HC Deb 01 June 1954 vol 528 c1077
47. Sir W. Smithers

asked the Prime Minister if Her Majesty's Government will now alter their present policy whereby Ministers will not answer Questions calling for information on the administration of the nationalised industries; and if Her Majesty's Government will arrange that Ministers will in future answer such Questions.

The Prime Minister

I see no reason to depart from the present practice whereby Ministers are not expected to concern themselves with the day-to-day administration of the nationalised industries.

Sir W. Smithers

Is the Prime Minister aware that one of the first and principal duties of a Member of Parliament is to be guardian of the public purse? How can he carry out that duty if he is not allowed to expose the Socialist policy of nationalisation and the fact that the nationalised industries are losing money and wasting money, especially in the case of electricity, gas, transport and coal?

The Prime Minister

I think I have answered the Question on the Order Paper. I may reassure my hon. Friend about my own position: I have always been against nationalisation—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—of all industries except the railways, where, I admit, I have learned wisdom by experience.

Mr. H. Morrison

Can the Prime Minister say whether the only reason why he supports the nationalisation of the railways is because they are in an exceptionally difficult financial position? Is he in favour of the nationalisation of industries likely to lose money, and against the nationalisation of those in which profits are to be made?

The Prime Minister

We have talked about these matters in the last eight years, and I have frequently been on record on the subject.