HC Deb 16 December 1935 vol 307 cc1493-5

7.37 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 2, line 6, at the end, to insert "Christopher Addison, Esq., Sir Frederick Hayward."

This Clause contains a list of the names of the Commissioners who administer the Local Loans Fund. These Commissioners are appointed by this Bill once every five years, and I propose that these two names shall be added to the list. I need not say much about these two gentlemen, certainly not about Christopher Addison, who was for some considerable time an illustrious Member of the House. Sir Frederick Hayward is a gentleman of very considerable experience in administration, and I feel sure that both would strengthen the Board.

7.38 p.m.


I feel a slight difficulty in refusing a request which has been so moderately expressed, but it is very difficult to see where you are to stop if you keep on adding names to this list. I am sure the hon. Member does not mean to suggest that we have at present in the Commissioners any lack of knowledge or competence for the duties that they have to perform. The main work of this body is to appraise the value of securities for loans. It is often said that we ought to take in wider angles of vision, and sometimes we have been told we ought to try to appoint Commissioners who are acquainted with local government, although there are at present gentlemen acquainted with local government on the Board. The Committee, however, should not overstress that because, when a local authority comes for a loan to the Board, it has previously had to run the gauntlet of the Ministry of Health, which has to give its approval to the loan. Consequently the Commissioners can take it for granted that any question of local government has already been discussed by those who are experts. Let me remind the Committee, too, that on the last occasion on which this Board had to be constituted five years ago, the Treasury added the names of four gentlemen at the instance of hon. Members opposite, but only two find it convenient to attend the proceedings at all. I do not say anything in disparagement of the two names suggested in the Amendment. The hon. Member says that they would strengthen the Commission, but if we were to put everyone on the Board who would add to the wisdom of its deliberations we should have a very unwieldy body. I ask the Committee to support me in the view that the present Commissioners are discharging their functions well and that there is no necessity to add to their number. Every conceivable angle is represented which is relevant to the actual work that they have to do.


Will the hon. Gentleman give us an assurance that, if and when vacancies occur, the two names which have been put forward, representing a somewhat different point of view from those already on the board, will be most carefully and sympathetically considered?


Should vacancies occur any name that is suggested will receive the most careful consideration, but I do not want to pledge myself to any name. We do not know yet whether these two gentlemen would be willing to serve. Of course, any name put forward by hon. Members or suggested by the present commissioners would receive careful consideration.

7.43 p.m.


Will the hon. Gentleman consider this point? I am informed that the whole of the present commissioners, with the exception of the last two, have been commissioners for five years. Is it not desirable that every five years, when there is a reappointment, additional members should be appointed, so as to get fresh blood? I do not think that the losses that have been incurred reflect very great credit on their operation. The hon. Gentleman said that the commissioners' duty was to appraise the value of securities offered to the board. It is obvious from the list of securities set out here that the appraisements which have been made have not been very satisfactory. I imagine that the commissioners do not themselves value these securities, but act on the advice of duly authorised valuers. If that is so, possibly no great blame can be laid at their door, but I press the point that on bodies of this kind the opportunity should be taken from time to time, when they are reappointed, to bring in fresh blood. The gentlemen whose names are put forward in the Amendment are well known in public affairs. One, in particular, has great knowledge of the operations of local authorities, and the other, of course, has great experience and is well known in business circles. I understand that the number of commissioners who may be appointed is not limited. It does not seem to me that the hon. Gentleman has really advanced any good argument for not adding to the number. If it is not possible for him to accept the Amendment, I hope that he and the Government generally will bear in mind the obvious desirability of bringing in fresh blood to the boards and commissions which are appointed from time to time by this House.

Amendment negatived.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.