HC Deb 02 July 1923 vol 166 cc31-4

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department the terms of the agreement on which Mr. Wintour was originally employed by the executive committee of the British Empire Exhibition; and if there was any Clause providing for dismissal in the case of inefficiency?


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department if he will give the names of the committee who made agreement with Mr. A. F. Wintour on behalf of the British Empire Exhibition?

61 and 63. Sir JAMES REMNANT

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department (1) if he will lay upon the Table a copy of the original agreement made with Mr. Wintour on his appointment to the British Empire Exhibition;

(2) if the amount of £14,000 paid to Mr. Wintour was paid as compensation for part loss of salary till the end of the British Empire Exhibition next year; if not, what was it paid for; will he say if the amount of the compensation was submitted to the members of the executive council and the general council for their approval before being settled; and, if not, will he state the reason?


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department whether the £14,000 alleged to be payable to Mr. Wintour has actually been paid: can he give the names of those who personally negotiated the original contract of service with Mr. Wintour and the names of those who negotiated the new contract; whether they are still taking any part in controlling the administration of the British Empire Exhibition; and whether the Government intends to take any more intimate control of the disposal of the funds for which it is contingently liable?

Lieut.-Colonel BUCKLEY

A copy of the original agreement between the British Empire Exhibition and Mr. Wintour will be laid on the Table of the House. A sub-committee, consisting of Lord Morris, then chairman of the executive council of the British Empire Exhibition, Colonel Cole and Mr. Davis, was appointed to conduct the negotiations with Mr. Wintour for this agreement, and the draft was submitted to and approved at a meeting of the executive council on the 24th June, 1920. The agreement does not contain a clause providing for dismissal in case of inefficiency. I have already explained, in reply to a question by my hon. Friend the Member for the North Division of Leeds (Mr. H. Butler), the reasons for the cancellation of the original agreement, and I should like to make it clear that its cancellation does not reflect in any way on Mr. Wintour's efficiency.

The new arrangement with Mr. Wintour, has been concluded by the board to which the powers of the executive council have recently been delegated. The board consists of Sir James Stevenson, chairman; Sir Travers Clarke, deputy-chairman; Sir James Allen, representing the High Commissioners of the Dominions; Sir Henry McMahon, chairman of the management committee; and Sir Charles McLeod, chairman of the finance committee. As I have already stated, the proposed arrangement was submitted to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies as chairman of the executive council of the Exhibition, and was approved by him. The amount paid to Mr. Wintour was paid as compensation for loss of emoluments, but in assessing the amount it was necessary to take into account the fact that he had been engaged, not merely up to the close of the Exhibition itself, but also for the further period required for the liquidation of the undertaking. The amount agreed upon has been paid over to Mr. Wintour. The gentlemen concerned in the negotiation of the original agreement with Mr. Wintour and the members of the executive council who approved of it, are still members of the council, with the exception of one gentleman who has since died; and the board who concluded the recent arrangement with Mr. Wintour are still controlling, on behalf of the executive council, the business of the Exhibition.

The liability of His Majesty's Government is restricted to their guarantee of £100,000, whereas the total sum guaranteed amounts now to £1,200,000. The Exhibition has been organised from the first under private management, and it was on that basis that the guarantees were obtained. I do not think that it would be desirable for the Government to endeavour to interfere with the responsibility in financial matters of Sir James Stevenson and his colleagues, who are now in charge of the administration.


Arising out of that part of the answer which deals with my questions, has the Minister seen the minutes submitted to the executive council, where no mention whatever is made of the amount of the compensation; among the emoluments for which Mr. Wintour has been compensated, is there included that amount, and, if so, what is it, for the motor-cars provided for him for running round the Exhibition, and the various other luxuries?


In point of fact, has the award to Mr. Wintour been submitted at all to the executive council?

Lieut.-Colonel BUCKLEY

I have not seen the minutes. In regard to the amount paid to Mr. Wintour, when my hon. Friend sees the Paper that is to be laid on the Table, he will see the terms of the engagement, and he can then assess the amount of compensation for himself.


Has the executive council sanctioned the award?

Lieut.-Colonel BUCKLEY

I know nothing about that.


Is it not a fact that Mr. Wintour was appointed to this office six months in advance of the executive committee being appointed by the Government?

Lieut.-Colonel BUCKLEY

No, Sir.


Was it not, in point of fact on the recommendation of the Board of Trade that Mr. Wintour was appointed general manager of the Exhibition?


Is not this huge amount of compensation for a man foisted on us from the outside fixed on a scale totally different from that of the Civil Service?

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