HC Deb 09 February 1944 vol 396 cc1763-5
46 Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the Minister of Production (1) the number of firms who have received capital assistance from public funds; the number who are managing agency schemes and the number who are running shadow factories; and will he publish a White Paper giving the names of the firms and the amount of public funds advanced to each concern;

(2) the total amount of public funds that have been or are proposed to be expended in capital assistance schemes and the total amount on agency or shadow factories; and what policy is it intended to apply to this public expenditure in the post-war period;

(3) what safeguards have been introduced to see that the capital assistance given to firms is used to the best advantage of the nation; is he satisfied with the efficiency of the firms who have received assistance; and how many directors have been nominated by the Government.

The Minister of Production (Mr. Lyttelton)

These questions raise a number of detailed points, and the answer is in consequence somewhat long and contains a number of figures. I will therefore, with his permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the answer:

In round figures the number of firms that have received capital assistance is 5,500: the number managing agency schemes or shadow factories is 175. It would not be in the public interest to publish the names of the firms concerned and the amounts advanced to each. The total of approved expenditure from public funds from the beginning of the rearmament period is about £380,000,000 on capital assistance schemes and about £250,000,000 on agency schemes and shadow factories. It is too soon to say what policy is to be applied in respect of this expenditure in the post-war period especially as the measures taken will vary according to the circumstances of individual cases. I may say, however, that active consideration is at present being given to this and other connected post-war problems by the Departments concerned.

The selection of the firms, the details of the schemes proposed and the scope and nature of the extensions is subject to special scrutiny by each of the Departments concerned before such schemes are authorised. The actual operation of the schemes is at all times closely watched by technical experts. My colleagues and I are satisfied that generally the firms assisted have operated and continue to operate at a proper standard of efficiency. There have, however, been a few cases to the contrary and steps have been taken to remedy the situation under the powers conferred on the competent authorities by Defence (General) Regulations. About 35 persons have been nominated for various reasons as directors of 11 companies by the Government. This figure does not include directors appointed by negotiation to the boards of privately owned companies. Compulsory powers under Defence Regulations have only been used in the case of one firm.