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?
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—
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.
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 For that reason it must be withdrawn.