Company Donations (Political Parties)

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Industry – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th March 1994.

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Photo of Dawn Primarolo Dawn Primarolo Shadow Spokesperson (Health) 12:00 am, 9th March 1994

To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will publish a list of donations given by companies employing members of his deregulation task forces to political parties.

Photo of Mr Neil Hamilton Mr Neil Hamilton , Tatton

That information is not known to my Department or to me. The implication behind the question shows the essentially puerile approach of the hon. Lady and her party to the serious need to reduce business costs as a means of reducing unemployment.

Photo of Dawn Primarolo Dawn Primarolo Shadow Spokesperson (Health)

Did the Minister make an assessment of health and safety records, or of the breaching of any regulations by those companies before he appointed them? Did he ask consumer groups for their views of the companies, or was he concerned only to know how much the companies had donated to the Tory party?

Photo of Mr Neil Hamilton Mr Neil Hamilton , Tatton

I was concerned to know only how to improve the competitiveness of British industry by getting rid of redundant regulations and making more cost effective those that are necessary, and hence reducing unemployment. Unfortunately, the hon. Lady is more interested in playing party games.

Photo of Peter Bottomley Peter Bottomley , Eltham

Will my hon. Friend consider a list of donations by trade unions to members of the Opposition Front-Bench team, and will he consider whether it would make them worth employing for the deregulation task forces?

Photo of Mr Neil Hamilton Mr Neil Hamilton , Tatton

The difference between us and the Labour party is that it, as a wholly owned subsidiary of the trade union movement, is concerned to load extra costs on British business and to destroy jobs, whereas we are concerned to listen to the voice of experience in British business, to reduce those costs and to promote employment.

Photo of Lynne Jones Lynne Jones , Birmingham, Selly Oak

Is the Minister satisfied that he gets good value for the millions of pounds that his Department spends on company investigations, bearing in mind that, although there have been 82 published reports, only four directors, and no company auditors, have been disbarred? Is he concerned about the fact that, to investigate companies, his Department has often been known to hire accountants from companies that are themselves the subject of investigations, and that—[HON. MEMBERS: "Too long."]—partners from companies that have been criticised by his Department often sit on the disciplinary panels—

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

Order. I have brought to the attention of the House several times lately the fact that Question Time is not a time for debate. We are dealing with direct questions. Will the Minister respond?

Photo of Mr Neil Hamilton Mr Neil Hamilton , Tatton

In deciding whether to pursue prosecutions against those who have breached company law, we follow the normal rules by which all parties in government have always operated. We take proper legal advice, and we believe in acting by due process of law.