Oral Answers to Questions — Crown Agents

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd May 1976.

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Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner , Bolsover 12:00 am, 3rd May 1976

asked the Minister for Overseas Development when he expects to receive the report of the Fay Committee dealing with the Crown Agents.

Photo of Mr Reginald Prentice Mr Reginald Prentice , Newham North East

The best estimate that I can give the House is that I expect to receive the report at about the end of the year.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner , Bolsover

It is a little late now. Will my right hon. Friend give a categorical assurance that the Fay Report will be published in full detail, including all those references to circumstances in which civil servants in both the Treasury and the Ministry for Overseas Development failed to give Ministers, of varying hues and descriptions, the correct position regarding the Crown Agents at the appropriate time? Will my right hon. Friend also ensure that in the report a full list will be included of those Members of Parliament who were involved in companies which had borrowings from the Crown Agents during the period when all these sleazy enterprises were indulged in by the Crown Agents?

Photo of Mr Reginald Prentice Mr Reginald Prentice , Newham North East

I do not think that my hon. Friend does any service to the House by making insinuations, couched in vague terms, against people who are in no position to reply. It is and always has been my intention that the report should be published. I made that clear in my statement last October—my hon. Friend was present at the time—and it will be published, as I said, subject to any editing to protect the interests of developing countries or information given on a strictly confidential basis. That was the intention of my predecessor, my right hon. Friend the Member for Lanark (Mrs. Hart), as she made clear, and I have repeated it on more than one occasion as my intention, too.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner , Bolsover

Another cover-up.

Mr. riggers:

Will the right hon. Gentleman assure us that it will be the Government's policy that the massive and unique value of the Crown Agents to the economy will not be damaged?

Photo of Mr Reginald Prentice Mr Reginald Prentice , Newham North East

Yes, Sir. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that supplementary question. Inevitably and rightly, there has been a lot of concern about unfortunate developments over the last few years, but that should not obscure the fact that the ongoing work of the Crown Agents has been of great value to the country and very significant overseas.

Photo of Mr George Cunningham Mr George Cunningham , Islington South and Finsbury

Pending the production of the Fay Report, will my right hon. Friend clarify the position of those cases that have been reported to the Director of Public Prosecutions? Is the Director still actively considering some such papers? When can we expect the outcome of his consideration?

Photo of Mr Reginald Prentice Mr Reginald Prentice , Newham North East

The Director of Public Prosecutions is considering two or three cases. I do not know when we can expect the outcome of his consideration.