HC Deb 30 October 1957 vol 575 cc199-200
30. Mr. D. Jones

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether, in view of the conflict of view between Sir Harold Howitt as indicated in his report and those of Mr. E. L. Gethin, relative to the recommendations indicated in the Blue report, and the British Transport Commission directive of 13th August, 1957, he will arrange to have a copy of the Blue report and the directive of 13th August, 1957, placed in the Library of the House of Commons, to enable hon. Members to judge for themselves on these documents.

Mr. Watkinson

No, Sir. As I have already informed the hon. Member, Sir Harold Howitt's report itself gives all the relevant material from Commission documents necessary to his findings.

Mr. Jones

In paragraph 47 of the report to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred is a serious conflict of view between Sir Harold Howitt and Mr. Gethin. Indeed, the directive issued by the British Transport Commission on 13th August, according to Mr. Gethin, differed fundamentally from the Blue report. Why will not the right hon. Gentleman make them available in the Library? Has lie anything to hide?

Mr. Watkinson

Nothing at all. I can easily dispose of the matter by repeating what I have said publicly and in a statement, that I fully accept Sir Harold Howitt's version as being a completely impartial and accurate account of the affair.

Mr. Ernest Davies

Would the right hon. Gentleman be a little more definite why this report cannot be made available to hon. Members? It is now past history, but it has been referred to both in this House and in this report published by Sir Harold Howitt. Is it not desirable that the House should have the full contents of them so that these differences of opinion may be resolved?

Mr. Watkinson

The reason is this, and I am glad to state it. I think it is quite wrong that the Commission, which is trying to run itself as a commercial concern, as it is the Government's wish it should, should think that its internal documents should at any time be produced and laid for public examination. It is done once a year when the Commission's accounts are thoroughly investigated. Otherwise, I think it ought to be left alone to get on with the job.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

In the light of Sir Harold Howitt's report, were not the charges satisfactorily disposed of, and ought not the matter now to be left to rest?

Mr. Watkinson

That is my view.