HC Deb 26 November 1951 vol 494 cc872-3
42. Wing Commander Bullus

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will introduce legislation to surcharge members in nationalised boards in respect of fines imposed on such boards in a corporate capacity.

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

As the recent electricity board case has shown, it is possible, under the existing law, to take proceedings against members of boards who have a personal responsibility, and the courts can impose, if they so decide, not only fines but also sentences of imprisonment. As at present advised, therefore, I do not consider further legislation is necessary.

Wing Commander Bullus

Would not the Minister agree that it would be fantastic that a highly paid official appointed to watch public expenditure should have his fine paid for him by the public against whom he has offended?

Mr. Lioyd

I do not think it would be an accurate description of what took place. The court in this case, having discretion, nevertheless decided to impose, for certain reasons mentioned by the Lord Chief Justice, a fine on the board in its corporate capacity, and decided to impose in one case a fine and in the other case a sentence of imprisonment on individuals, in their individual capacities.

Mr. R. T. Paget

Does the position of a director of a nationalised board differ in any way from that of the director of a private company?

Mr. Lioyd

That is a legal matter on which I should not like to pronounce at short notice.

Colonel Alan Gomme-Duncan

Will my right hon. Friend tell me whether a fine imposed upon a corporate body is actually paid for by the consumer? How does he define a corporate body?