HC Deb 02 June 1938 vol 336 cc2222-4
45 Mr. Stephen

asked the Prime Minister whether any principles have been laid down by the Government for the guidance of directors who have been appointed by the Government to serve on boards of private companies or quasi public utility companies; and whether the Government receive private reports as to their activities upon such boards?

The Prime Minister (Mr. Chamberlain)

No general principles have been laid down for the guidance of Government directors, but they receive instructions as to the particular interests of the Government to be represented in connection with the company concerned and report to the Government on such matters as are of concern to it.

Mr. Stephen

Is the Prime Minister satisfied that the appointment of these Government directors is having any satisfactory result, or is giving the Government any control over them?

The Prime Minister

I do not think the appointment of Government directors is intended to exercise general control over the companies, but is intended that they should have an opportunity of expressing Government views on matters which are of interest to the Government.

Mr. Boothby

Is there anything to prevent the Government asking the Government directors on these companies to make confidential reports to the Government on certain matters of interest to the Government from time to time?

The Prime Minister

Government directors do keep in touch with the Government and report to them from time to time.

Mr. Wedgwood Benn

When exclusive subsidies are paid, is there any way in which the House can be informed of the activities of Government directors?

The Prime Minister

Perhaps the right hon Gentleman will put that question on the Order Paper.

65. Mr. De la Bère

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the remuneration received by directors nominated or appointed by His Majesty's Government on the Suez Canal Company, Limited; Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, Limited; Imperial Airways, Limited; British Airways, Limited; Park-end Saw Mills, Limited; British Sugar Corporation, Limited; Agricultural Mortgage Corporation, Limited; Scottish Agricultural Securities Corporation, Limited; and David MacBrayne (1928), Limited?

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Captain Euan Wallace)

The Government directors of the companies in question receive no remuneration from public funds in respect of their services as such. In general, any remuneration paid by the companies to the Government directors, like that paid to other directors, is determined by the company. In the case of the British Sugar Corporation, the Articles of Association provide that the remuneration of the chairman shall be determined by the Minister of Agriculture, with the approval of the Treasury, and that the remuneration of the other directors shall be £500 per annum, but that the company may vote extra remuneration to the board.

Mr. De la Bère

Does not my right hon. and gallant Friend consider that the whole position wants to be put on to a concrete and clear basis, and does he not realise that we want to know what it is that they get as a reward for safeguarding the public, and that we do not gather what reward they get for doing that? I am making no aspersions and no innuendoes, but I would like to know that.

Captain Wallace

I am sorry that my hon. Friend considers the whole position so unsatisfactory.