Nationalised Industries (Chairmen)

Oral Answers to Questions — Industry – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 5th April 1976.

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Photo of Mr Hugh Dykes Mr Hugh Dykes , Harrow East 12:00 am, 5th April 1976

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what recent discussions he has had with chairmen of boards of nationalised industries under his control on questions of remuneration for themselves and other board chairmen, conditions of service and related matters.

Photo of Mr Eric Varley Mr Eric Varley , Chesterfield

I have regular contacts with the chairmen of those nationalised industries for which my Department is responsible, and discuss a wide variety of topics with them.

Photo of Mr Hugh Dykes Mr Hugh Dykes , Harrow East

As the right hon. Gentleman will undoubtedly agree that the chairmen of nationalised industries are a thoroughly unhappy lot, what pecking order would he establish for priorities for the future to reduce or eliminate their unhappiness—higher pay, financial reorganisation, more freedom of action, or the resignation of the Secretary of State?

Photo of Mr Eric Varley Mr Eric Varley , Chesterfield

I think that most chairmen of nationalised industries would be happy if they thought that they had a permanent Labour Government, so that they would be dealing with politicians who were sympathetic to their general aims.

Photo of Mr Bob Cryer Mr Bob Cryer , Keighley

Will my right hon. Friend explain how the appointment of captains of industry, such as Sir Richard Dobson and Sir Charles Villiers, at very enhanced salaries, out of keeping with the shop floor level of income, helps industrial democracy? Is not the solution to get committed Socialists, who are not in the executive market, who will not merely seek larger salaries but will be dedicated to the nationalised industries and to the introduction of industrial democracy, so that the ordinary shop floor worker will feel that he can identify with the boss?

Photo of Mr Eric Varley Mr Eric Varley , Chesterfield

I can only repeat that I want the chairmen of nationalised industries to be committed to the success of those industries. I think that in most cases the chairmen are acceptable to those who work in the industries. I know that my hon. Friend will have noted recently that the National Union of was consulted on, and generally endorsed, the reappointment of Sir Derek Ezra.

Photo of Mr John Stokes Mr John Stokes , Halesowen and Stourbridge

Is the Secretary of State aware that these unfortunate chairmen are a depressed class? Should they not be paid the rate for the job, with danger money, in view of Government interference?

Photo of Mr Eric Varley Mr Eric Varley , Chesterfield

No. They make many requests from time to time, but they have never made a request for danger money.