Ferranti Limited

Oral Answers to Questions — Ministry of Aviation – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd June 1964.

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Photo of Mr Frank Allaun Mr Frank Allaun , Salford East 12:00 am, 3rd June 1964

asked the Minister of Aviation when he now expects to receive the report of Sir John Lang's Committee on the Ferranti Bloodhound contract; and when it will be published.

Photo of Mr Julian Amery Mr Julian Amery , Preston North

Sir John Lang has been pressed to produce his report as soon as possible. While accepting the need for speed, he has stated that it will not be possible to make the first part of the report, which deals with the Ferranti profit, available to the Government before the second half of July. It will then be published as soon as possible. The second part of the report, on organisation and procedure, will not be available until later this year.

Photo of Mr Frank Allaun Mr Frank Allaun , Salford East

As this Parliament ends for good next month, may I ask whether this means that there will be no possibility of the House discussing the Lang report: Will the Minister be prepared to accept the long-standing Parliamentary position that the Minister bears responsibility for what goes seriously wrong in his Department? Lastly, since the Lang investigations started, has Ferranti made any offer to repay the excessive profit?

Photo of Mr Julian Amery Mr Julian Amery , Preston North

The hon. Member has asked a number of questions. I hope and believe that it will be possible for the House to have the Lang report before the House rises. I had undertaken to the House that Sir John would make it available by June but this was before Ferranti agreed to open all its papers to Sir John. The bulk of these is pretty considerable. It will, therefore, take slightly longer than I thought, but I still hope that it will be possible for the House to have the report before we rise, and this should give some opportunity for discussion of it. The other part of the hon. Member's supplementary question would best form the subject matter of a separate Question.

Photo of Mr Jack Diamond Mr Jack Diamond , Gloucester

Is not it the case that the new information which will be made available to the Lang Committee, and which will be helpful to that Committee and in due course helpful to the House, is additional to the information which was first expected to come from that Committee? Is not it the case that the Committee is concerned with matters within the Ministry and not specifically with the precise £ s. d. of the profits of an individual company? Would it not, therefore, be beneficial to the House to be told in an interim report whether the Ministry Department over which the present Minister has control has carried out its duties efficiently or not?

Photo of Mr Julian Amery Mr Julian Amery , Preston North

I should have thought that the hon. Member, for whom I have the greatest respect, is misrepresenting the wishes of the House in this matter. I thought that the first thing that the House wanted to get down to was how the Ferranti profit arose, what went wrong, and an analysis of this particular case. Obviously we are all very concerned whether there are some general lessons to be learned from this, but I thought that the first thing with which we were all concerned, and certainly about which the Government were most concerned, was to find out what happened in this particular case. That is why I was so very anxious to get Ferranti to show all its papers to Sir John Lang. I had hoped at the time of the recent debate that when I was able to assure the House that Sir John Lang would have all the papers the anxieties that remained in the minds of hon. Members opposite would be at least postponed until that inquiry was completed. At least some hon. Members felt that Sir John's report would not be worth much unless he had access to all the books. Now that he is to have access I should have thought that his report on Ferranti would be of the very greatest value. The other matters are of equal importance but of a long-term character and in no way affecting the credit of the Government.