HC Deb 12 March 1951 vol 485 cc1040-2
12. Mr. Pargiter

asked the Minister of Supply if he is taking any steps to strengthen the higher levels in his organisation to deal with industrial problems arising from the re-armament programme.

Mr. G. R. Strauss

Yes, Sir. I have been fortunate enough to secure the services of Mr. S. W. Rawson, Managing Director of John Brown, Ltd., Mr. George Briggs, Assistant Managing Director of Tube Investments, Ltd. and Mr. W. C. Puckey, Director and General Works Manager of Hoover, Ltd.

Mr. Rawson will become Director-General of Machine Tools and the other two gentlemen will be concerned with the production aspects of the re-armament programme on the munitions and air sides, respectively. I should like to express my warm appreciation of the action of the chairman and boards of the companies concerned in placing the services of these gentlemen at my disposal. I am considering further appointments of a similar nature in the near future.

In addition, I have established a panel of experts to deal with the allocation of steel required for the re-armament programme. The panel, as I have already announced, will be presided over by Mr. T. W. Senior.

Mr. Pargiter

May I ask my right hon. Friend why he thought it was not necessary to include a prominent trade union representative in this body? May I further ask him whether he is satisfied that these distinguished gentlemen are likely to be more successful in the advice they give to him than would appear to have been the case in certain Departments where private enterprise representatives have been giving advice?

Mr. Strauss

For the type of job which we want these gentlemen to do, the prerequisite is experience in the management of works and on the board of a company, and also some experience in this type of work during the last war. I think the gentlemen concerned, who are all very distinguished, are the most suitable for the type of work I want them to do.

Mr. R. A. Butler

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the appointment of these singularly distinguished gentlemen will give great satisfaction to this side of the House? I am glad to congratulate the Minister on his choice.

Mr. Snow

Is my right hon. Friend aware how extremely interested we are in these appointments, and may I appeal to the Opposition not to classify these distinguished gentlemen as "quislings" merely because they work of this Government?

Mr. Watkinson

If I put down a Question, will the Minister give for the information of the House a full list of all the committees which advise his Ministry and act as a link between his Ministry and industry?

Mr. Strauss

I will do my best. They are a large number.

Mr. Somerville Hastings

What proportion of their time will these distinguished gentlemen give to the Government?

Mr. Strauss

The arrangement is that they give all their time, but they are free for a day or two a month if necessary to advise the companies from which they came.

Mr. Edgar Granville

Can the Minister make available to the House, with regard to these new appointments, information concerning whether they will be in an advisory capacity to his Department, whether they will have effective powers with regard to the allocation of machine tools, and to whom they will report—to the right hon. Gentleman or to his Department?

Mr. Strauss

They are advisers to me and they will be responsible for administering the policy which I, of course, will lay down and for which I will be responsible.