HC Deb 26 June 1928 vol 219 cc225-6
40. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

asked the Prime Minister what instructions have been given to the Government directors on the Anglo-Persian Oil Company's board with reference to a proposed increase in petrol prices?

The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Churchill)

As has been frequently stated in the House, His Majesty's Government are under obligation not to interfere in the commercial management of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

I am aware of that, but does that prevent us from making representations through these directors if there is evidence of an agreement among the oil companies artificially to raise the price against the consumer?


I really do not think that it would be to the general advantage for me to deal with a hypothetical situation which has not yet arisen.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Has the right hon. Gentleman been made aware of the fact that there is an admitted over-production of oil, and yet there is a great deal of talk about putting up the price?


Naturally, I give what consideration I can to these matters, but, in the main, the world price—which is the dominant factor in our affairs-is not settled by representatives of this country. I should, however, prefer not to attempt to make a forecast of what the course of events will be.


Do the Government directors make regular reports to the Government as to what is happening on the Board?


Naturally, their duty is to keep in the closest touch with the Treasury and the Admiralty.


Do I understand from the right hon. Gentleman that the Government, as shareholders, have the right to make suggestions as to policy, to the two directors on the Board?


We have the right and the duty to keep in the closest touch with our representatives, but we are nevertheless under the obligation, which has been recognised by successive Governments, not to interfere in the commercial management of the company, and that position, undoubtedly, could not be infringed without infringing the rights of non-official shareholders in the company.