HC Deb 31 January 1940 vol 356 cc1146-8
67. Mr. Thurtle

asked the Minister of Supply whether he is aware that an officer of his Department introduced, as a reliable financial agent, to the head of a firm requiring finance to carry out urgently needed Government contracts, a man who had been convicted of fraudulent conversion and who had been declared bankrupt on a number of occasions; who recommended the man in question to his Department as a suitable person to obtain the required finance; what inquiries the officers of his Department made regarding the antecedents of this man before undertaking the responsibility of recommending him to the firm in question; and whether he is prepared to have a full inquiry made into all the circumstances of this case?

The Minister of Supply (Mr. Burgin)

I am aware of the case to which the hon. Member refers though. I must not be understood as accepting all the implications involved in his Question. Inquiry has already been made into the case and the papers have been submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions, who has recently advised that he is not satisfied that there is evidence on which to support criminal proceedings against any of the persons involved. In the circumstances I do not consider any useful purpose would be served by a further inquiry.

Mr. Thurtle

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that he has not answered my Question as to who recommended this man to his Ministry as a reliable person, although he was a man with a criminal record? Is he aware also that he has not answered my Question as to what inquiries officials of his Department made as to the antecedents of this man before sending him to the firm in question?

Mr. Burgin

I have endeavoured to tell the hon. Member that full inquiry has been made in the Department as to all the matters brought to our notice by the papers on which the Question is founded. I took a serious view of this matter, and my hon. and gallant Friend the Parliamentary Secretary and I have given a great deal of time and thought to it and have discussed the matter with several Members of the House. The antecedents of the man in question were not known to the man making the introduction referred to in the Question. Inquiry has been made in the Department as to whether blame of a criminal character can be attached in the circumstances of the case, and the matter was submitted through the Treasury Solicitor to the Director of Public Prosecutions. The answer is that there is not ground on which, in the opinion of the Director, criminal proceedings would lie. What action, if any, of a disciplinary character has to be taken is a matter for which I, as head of the Department, in so far as the gentleman is a member of my Department, must take the responsibility.

Mr. Thurtle

In view of the public interest involved in the facts of this Question, I beg to give notice that I will raise the matter on the Adjournment to-day?