HC Deb 17 February 1948 vol 447 cc987-8
48. Mr. Bossom

asked the Prime Minister if he will introduce legislation to secure that the governing bodies of those industries which have already been nationalised should be so subordinated to the appropriate Minister as to enable Members of this House to obtain information in the House of Commons on matters pertaining to nationalised industries.

The Prime-Minister

No, Sir.

Mr. Bossom

Does not the Prime Minister recognise that everyone in this House is elected to safeguard the interests of the people of this nation, and are we not, therefore, under an obligation to investigate as far as possible this vast amount of property owned by these various nationalised industries?

The Prime Minister

That is, of course, a very general statement. The policy of this House in setting up these Corporations was to take away from Parliament control of the day-to-day operations and to confine it to the Corporations. Therefore, there is a limit put by these Acts on the extent to which it is desirable for hon. Members to ask for details about the day-to-day operations of these Corporations.

Mr. Bossom

Will the Prime Minister state what we can ask, if we cannot ask about day-to-day matters?

The Prime Minister

That is a question for Mr. Speaker.

Mr. George Thomas

Will the Prime Minister give an assurance to the House that in matters of the policy of these Corporations, hon. Members will be able to question the responsible Minister?

The Prime Minister

That has been made perfectly plain from time to time. The question of general policy is different from that of the specific every-day running of a Corporation.

Mr. Driberg

In order to define the "limit" referred to by the Prime Minister—which has been the cause of some difficulty in the House—will he consider the desirability of having the promised Debate on this subject soon?

The Prime Minister

That will, no doubt, be arranged, if so desired, through the usual channels. The specific question that I was asked was whether I would introduce legislation. The answer is, "No, Sir."