HC Deb 23 November 1943 vol 393 cc1447-8
55. Mr. Evelyn Walkden

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many luncheons have been given by the United Kingdom Commercial Corporation at the Savoy Hotel, and other West End hotels, during the past six months; what is the total cost and the average cost per guest for food and drinks; what purpose the holding of such functions serves; and whether he will reconsider such expenditure from public funds which is contrary to the national interest on grounds of economy?

Sir J. Anderson

A Question on this subject was asked by my hon. Friend the Member for North Battersea (Mr. Douglas) on 27th July last, and I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer given by the late Chancellor of the Exchequer on that occasion.

Mr. Walkden

Has the Minister no power to stop this inexcusable form of waste, which seems to do nothing other than glorify the officials of the U.K.C.C.?

Sir J. Anderson

I rather deprecate the implications contained in that question. This Corporation is performing a very valuable public service, as my predecessor stated in the reply to which I have referred. These arrangements are not made without some consultation, and I am quite sure it would not be possible for the Corporation to go on doing the work it is doing if it were subjected to the close and detailed control which my hon. Friend's Question seeks to apply.

Sir H. Williams

Is not the right hon. Gentleman virtually the sole shareholder in this Corporation, and should he not keep a closer eye on it, having regard to the great criticisms which have been expressed?

Sir J. Anderson

I am not aware of those great criticisms. It is the fact that the Government are the sole shareholder, but it would be quite wrong to suppose that the Government do not keep themselves adequately informed of what is going on.