HC Deb 27 February 1958 vol 583 cc537-8
55. Mr. Chapman

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his attention has been drawn to the public speech of the Governor of the Bank of England on 18th February, in which he championed the practice of appointing part-time Bank directors from private industry and finance; and whether he will now issue a direction to the Bank under Section 4 (1) of the Bank of England Act, 1946, that the governors and directors should refrain from making public controversial statements about Bank matters which have been referred for full inquiry to an impartial committee, while such inquiry is actually proceeding.

Mr. Maudling

The answer to the first part of the Question is "Yes"; and to the second part, "No".

Mr. Chapman

When this matter is sub judice—when, in fact, this House has asked a Committee to look into the future of the Board of the Bank of England—is it not injudicious, to say the least, for the Governor to make this sort of partisan speech in public? [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] Let me say. If the chairman of a nationalised industry had tried to give his views on a matter of dispute when his board was under consideration by a Committee appointed by this House, would there not have been a chorus of disapproval from the House of Commons? Would it not be better for the Governor to try to restrain himself and give evidence to the Committee instead of making a public statement?

Mr. Maudling

The matter is in no sense sub judice. It is being considered by a Committee. If every issue that was being considered by a committee were considered to be sub judice, public controversy would be very much diminished.

Mr. Gordon Walker

Did not the Government make a special point of the fact that this matter was to be referred specifically to a Committee appointed by the House of Commons, and not to just any Committee, as an important matter of policy? When something like that happens, is it not wrong that the head of the Board concerned should make speeches in public about that very matter?

Mr. Maudling

No, Sir. I see nothing wrong in it whatever.