HC Deb 12 November 1952 vol 507 cc921-3
11. Mr. G. Wilson

asked the Minister of Civil Aviation whether he is aware that the Chairman of British European Airways Corporation in a recent speech to employees criticised, on political grounds, certain aspects of Her Majesty's Government's civil aviation policy; and what action he proposes to take.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

My attention has been drawn to a speech made by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Perth (Colonel Gomme-Duncan) on 29th October, 1952, in which he referred to comments supposed to have been made by Lord Douglas of Kirtleside to workers in British European Airways about the effect on their wages, conditions and situations of a change of Government.

I have since talked to Lord Douglas and he has asked me, as the Minister responsible for Civil Aviation, to quote him as saying in reply: I have never at any time made any such statement to the B.E.A. workers at Renfrew, or elsewhere. This has been confirmed in a written statement to the hon. Member for Perth by the B.E.A. Shop Stewards Committee at Renfrew Airport, which organised the deputation which met the hon. Member, and to which he presumably referred in his speech. On the contrary, I have always been most careful to avoid controversial party politics in my dealings with B.E.A. staff, since I am in full agreement with the implication of the hon. Member's remarks, to the effect that it would be improper of the Chairman of a nationalised corporation to indulge in political propaganda to the members of his organisation. I am very glad to respond to Lord Douglas's request, and I take this opportunity of re-affirming the trust of Her Majesty's Government in his leadership of B.E.A.C. and of our confidence that in discharging this task he is most careful to keep clear of political controversy in the field of civil aviation.

Mr. Wilson

While thanking my right hon. Friend for his reply, may I ask him whether he appreciates the great satisfaction there will be in all quarters of the House at clearing up this misunderstanding?

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

Is my right hon. Friend aware that I am very glad to have this assurance on behalf of Lord Douglas, which naturally I accept? May I also ask him if he is aware that I have not received the communication which is supposed to have been sent to me by the shop stewards? I hope that both they and I have been misled. As I say, I naturally accept what Lord Douglas says, and of course I withdraw.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

May I thank my hon. and gallant Friend for his typically generous statement? I am sure that any difficulty about communications will be referred to the appropriate Department.

Mr. Shinwell

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many of us on this side of the House regard his statement as much more generous than the statement made by the hon. and gallant Member?