HC Deb 15 December 1943 vol 395 cc1525-6
17. Mr. Craik Henderson

asked the Minister of Aircraft Production, whether he can now make a statement on the result of the investigation into the allegations of Mr. Venner in regard to the staff and work of the Directorate of Passive and Active Defence at the Ministry of Aircraft Production?

The Minister of Aircraft Production (Sir Stafford Cripps)

Yes, Sir. I have now received the result of this investigation. Mr. Venner's main allegations were that he himself had insufficient work to do and that the Directorate of Passive and Active Defence was over-staffed both at Headquarters and in the Regions. Mr. Venner represented to the Establishment authorities that he was underemployed in the post at Headquarters which he had occupied since 5th April last, and it was in consequence of a resulting inquiry and report that he was given notice of termination of his appointment on the ground of redundancy. The investigation has confirmed that the fact that Mr. Venner had made representations to my hon. Friend was unknown to my Department at that time and had no connection with the decision to dispense with Mr. Venner's services. On the wider question of the work of the Directorate as a whole, the Ministry of Home Security have expressed the opinion that the standard of security aimed at by the Ministry of Aircraft Production in the discharge of its duties as an appropriate authority for business premises is in conformity with the general Government policy in this matter. As regards the staffing of the Directorate, my Department had decided prior to the receipt of Mr. Venner's allegations to conduct a review as soon as the initial work arising out of the new Fire Guard Orders had been overcome. The review has now been undertaken and indicates that while the Directorate is being conducted satisfactorily, it will be practicable to effect certain adjustments in staffing and procedure.

Mr. Henderson

While thanking the Minister for carrying out this inquiry, may I ask whether he would agree that Mr. Venner was acting in the public interest in not being willing to draw pay when there was no work for him to do?

Sir S. Cripps

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Henderson

If suitable opportunity occurs, will my right hon. and learned Friend find employment for Mr. Venner's abilities?

Sir S. Cripps

I am afraid that there is very little opportunity for finding employment for Mr. Venner in my Department, but I have no doubt that he will be able to find some useful job in the national interest.

Mr. A. Edwards

Is the Minister aware, in reference to this case of Mr. Venner's dismissal having nothing to do with his complaints, that other men frequently come to Members of Parliament when they are afraid to get action through the ordinary channels? I cited myself four cases in the House where men were dismissed and where it was claimed that the dismissal had no connection with their complaints.

Sir S. Cripps

I am afraid that is another matter altogether.

Commander Sir Archibald Southby

Does the Minister's reply mean that Mr. Venner has been blacklisted?