HC Deb 30 November 1937 vol 329 cc1879-80
49. Mr. Montague

asked the Prime Minister what is to be the revised composition of the committee to inquire into civil aviation?

The Prime Minister

My Noble Friend has considered the representations, which have been made from several quarters of the House, to the effect that the committee should contain no official element. My Noble Friend's sole desire is to appoint the most competent and authoritative committee possible. I am confident that in no quarter of the House is there any wish to question the competency, impartiality or authority of the public servants whose selection has been announced. However, to meet the views expressed in the House it has been decided to reconstitute the committee, the membership of which will be:—Lord Cadman, G.C.M.G., Chairman; Sir Frederick Marquis, J.P., Mr. T. Harrison Hughes, Mr. J. W. Bowen, J.P.

Mr. Montague

Is the Prime Minister aware that a great deal of the objection to the composition of the committee originally was to its chairman, and will he consider the desirability of changing that chairman for some one who is, shall we say, less compromised politically?

The Prime Minister

A singularly ungracious response. I certainly was not aware that there was any particular objection to the chairman, and I do not at all accept the suggestion that the chairman is in any way compromised.

Mr. Perkins

Will the evidence be heard in camera? Is it proposed to publish the evidence and findings, and can organisations such as the British Air Line Pilots' Association be legally represented at the inquiry?

The Prime Minister

The evidence will be in camera. It is understood that the inquiry is to be a private one, and the evidence is not to be published. With regard to the organisations to be represented before the committee, the procedure of the committee must be a matter for the committee itself to decide.

Mr. Attlee

Is it customary in appointing a committee such as this for the Minister concerned to consult the Prime Minister, or does he act solely on his own responsibility?

The Prime Minister

I do not think there is any general rule. Sometimes it is done one way; sometimes the other.

Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

Does this incident not emphasise the desirability of the Secretary of State for Air being a Member of this House, in order that he may be in touch with the feeling of this House in regard to such a matter as this?