HC Deb 22 June 1927 vol 207 cc1842-3
35. Lord FERMOY

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, as representing the First Commissioner of Works, whether he is aware that civil servants in the Office of Works have undertaken work for private undertakings; whether he will state the magnitude of the contracts involved; and whether he is satisfied that the work will not interfere with the public duties of the civil servants involved?


My Noble Friend has no doubt in mind the case of Sir Frank Baines and Imperial Chemical Industries, Limited, referred to in the answers given to the hon. Memher for Tottenham, North (Mr. R. Morrison), on the 26th May.

I should like to take the opportunity of saying that no reflection rests upon Sir Frank Baines in this connection. He undertook the work in question for Imperial Chemical Industries, Limited, in good faith after reporting the matter to the proper branch of the Department, which did not fully realise at the time the magnitude of the operation, and consequently offered no objection.

The undertaking has eventually proved to be on a very large scale, involving an outlay of some £870,000; and, while there is no suggestion that it has so far interfered with Sir Frank Baines' official duties, my right hon. Friend the First Commissioner feels that from the point of the public service the existing arrangement is not one which should continue.

The First Commissioner has anxiously sought a solution of the difficulty by way of Sir Frank Baines' withdrawal from his outside undertaking; but Sir Frank, on account of obligations to the company, has not felt at liberty to adopt this course, and the company on their side have in fact declined to release him. He is therefore retiring on pension from the service on or about 1st September next; but the First Commissioner hopes that it may still be possible to secure his assistance in a part-time capacity in connection with the work of restoring the Houses of Parliament.


The hon. and gallant Gentleman having informed us, as I think we all agree, that Sir Frank Baines is not to blame, who is to blame for this incident?




I do not think full blame should be attached to anyone. It is a question of degree. Sir Frank Baines thought he could undertake this work without interfering with his official duties, but the First Commissioner is of opinion that the arrangement is not one which should be allowed to continue.


Are Sir Frank Baines' duties of such a light nature that he can easily undertake duties of this magnitude without interfering with his ordinary duties?


Is it usual for a whole-time employé of the Government to take outside work, more especially work of a commercial or contractual nature?


If my right hon and gallant Friend will read the answer given on the 26th of May, he will see the conditions under which outside work is allowed.


Will the Government reconsider these Regulations, and take care that in the ease of employés in the Civil Service full time service is required?


So far as this Department is concerned we are reviewing the conditions.