Oral Answers to Questions — Former Ministers (Directorships)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd December 1964.

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Photo of Mr Alf Morris Mr Alf Morris , Manchester Wythenshawe 12:00 am, 3rd December 1964

asked the Prime Minister whether he will introduce legislation to ensure that ex-Ministers of the Crown do not take up directorships in companies that have trading interests with Departments with which the Ministers concerned have been previously connected.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

No, Sir. I believe that it is better to leave this to the discretion and good sense of the individuals concerned than to try to regulate it by legislation.

Photo of Mr Alf Morris Mr Alf Morris , Manchester Wythenshawe

Would my right hon. Friend agree, as the new manager of the concern which they have left, and having read the books, that he should, in decency, send a personal note to the board rooms concerned to tell them what a shambles he inherited? Would he further agree that this is a serious public scandal requiring some urgent action?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

If my hon. Friend in his last few words was referring to the question of particular employment that has been taken up by any hon. or right hon. Gentleman opposite, I think that it has always been considered—and I said this when on the Opposition Front Bench about 12 months ago on a similar exchange—that this must be a matter for the discretion of the individuals concerned. An absolute ban on any further employment in firms which might have had some connection with a Department is one thing, and I am sure—

An Hon. Member:

Timber.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I was never a director. As I was saying, on the other hand, I think that any ex-Minister thinking of taking up employment in a firm or industry which was in a contractual relationship with his Department would, I am sure, feel it necessary to exercise his discretion against such an appointment.

Photo of Mr Anthony Kershaw Mr Anthony Kershaw , Stroud

Does the Prime Minister recall at this distance of time how many months it was after he ceased to be President of the Board of Trade that he joined Montague Meyer?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

On a point of order. If that is going to be thrown across the House, one should have the right to reply. [Interruption.]

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

It is the duty of all hon. Members, in the general interest, to remain silent while the Chair is addressing the House. The point is that directly we drift into the mention of an individual case the hon. Gentleman passes out of the realms of what is possible in a question. For that reason it must be withdrawn.

Hon. Members:

Withdraw.

Photo of Mr Anthony Kershaw Mr Anthony Kershaw , Stroud

If I said anything which is unparliamentary, of course I withdraw, but I would just say—[HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."]—I would just say that it was the hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Alfred Morris) who started this exchange.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

Could my right hon. Friend do anything to help those right hon. Members on the Opposition Front Bench who so far have failed to obtain lucrative employment—

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

That is not part of the Prime Minister's responsibilities. He is not an employment agency. Mr Goodhart, Question No. 4.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

I have not finished my supplementary question.