HC Deb 28 March 1956 vol 550 cc2136-8
11. Mr. Rankin

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he will state the reasons given to him which caused Sir Miles Thomas to resign from the chairmanship of British Overseas Airways Corporation.

Mr. Watkinson

The reasons were clearly stated in the Chairman's letter to me of 7th March, which has been published.

Mr. Rankin

Can the Minister explain what Sir Miles meant by "back-bench sniping" and say whether or not that had any influence in his resignation?

Mr. Watkinson

Perhaps he meant what the hon. Member is now doing.

23. Mr. Edelman

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation what facilities he has given to Sir Miles Thomas to engage in part-time commercial activities, unconnected with his function as Chairman of the British Overseas Airways Corporation since 23rd November, 1955.

Mr. Watkinson

None, Sir, apart from the two part-time directorships of which my predecessor informed the House on 23rd November.

Mr. Edelman

Arising out of that reply, and in view of the rather opportunistic comments by Sir Miles Thomas on nationalised industry, will the right hon. Gentleman make sure that the successor to Sir Miles is at least in sympathy with the form of organisation which he is appointed to serve?

Mr. Watkinson

As I said in my letter to Sir Miles Thomas, he has done a very fine job in B.O.A.C., for which I feel the whole country should be grateful to him. Sir Miles resigned for reasons which he has made quite clear, and which I fully understand and accept. So far as I am concerned, that is the end of the matter.

Sir R. Boothby

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that we shall be very lucky if we get anybody comparable to Sir Miles Thomas as his successor?

Mr. G. R. Strauss

While everyone agrees about the competence of Sir Miles Thomas, in view of his statement that one of the reasons for his resignation was that he disliked the sniping from the back benches, did the Minister ask him, when he took on the job, whether he was aware that there was the power of Parliament and the right of hon. Members to question Ministers about the affairs of the Corporation?

Mr. Watkinson

I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman. That is the constitutional position of chairmen of all nationalised industries, which I am quite sure they understand.

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