Nationalised Industries (Chairmen and Board Members)

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25th July 1968.

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Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West 12:00 am, 25th July 1968

asked the Prime Minister if he will take steps to ensure that no chairman or other full-time member of the board of a nationalised industry is appointed chairman of other important public institutions.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

No, Sir. In making appointments all relevant considerations are taken into account, but a rule of the kind suggested by my hon. Friend would unnecessarily restrict the field of choice.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West

Does my right hon. Friend think that a full-time chairman of a nationalised board has the time or should have the time to act as the chairman of another very important public institution? Is the amount of ability available in the country so thin on the ground that we have to have recourse to this kind of appointment? Would it not be better to spread the opportunity for public service rather wider than we do now?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I am not quite sure what particular case my hon. Friend has in mind.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

My hon. Friend has confirmed what I thought. I think we are well aware that in very many cases busy full-time persons, be they chairmen of public corporations or private firms, or otherwise engaged, do very often provide the best chairmen on a part-time basis. I do not think we should have any rule, but obviously in making an appointment one should see whether there is adequate time for doing the job.

Photo of Sir Gerald Nabarro Sir Gerald Nabarro , Worcestershire South

Does the Prime Minister recognise that there would be no limitation of choice as to suitably qualified people if he conducted an overhaul of the totally deranged state of the remuneration paid to heads of nationalised boards which are now quite removed from reality in the times in which we live?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

This raises an entirely different question and does not affect in any way the Chairman of the Coal Board as being chairman of a great teaching hospital. It has nothing to do with salary at all.