asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether he will give the number of companies in which the British Overseas Airways Corporation Holdings Limited now has an interest, the total liability represented by these holdings, and the number of directors on the board of the British Overseas Airways Corporation Holdings Limited who are not responsible, directly or indirectly, to him.
I take it the hon. Member is referring to B.O.A.C. Associated Companies Limited. This company holds interests in eighteen subsidiary and associate companies. The total liability represented by these holdings is £11,810,980. All the directors of the company are directly, or indirectly, responsible to me.
Is this not another example of the way in which there is increasingly remote control of interests that are being financed by public money? In addition, is there not private money in many of these companies, and are there not also directors appointed to this B.O.A.C. Holdings Company but not by the Minister? Is he again satisfied that the responsibility to Parliament is clearly established?
The first point in answer to that question is that the Corporations have to run themselves in a sensible, practical way as competitive businesses, and I support them in that. The House may like to know that I have received an assurance from the Chairman of B.O.A.C. that in any action proposed by the company my Ministry will be consulted and its approval obtained in exactly the same way as if the action were being taken by B.O.A.C. itself.