HC Deb 03 November 1958 vol 594 cc594-5
36. Mr. Palmer

asked the Paymaster-General if he will make a statement on the principles now being followed by him in the appointment of part-time members to area electricity and gas boards; how many employees working in the industry have been so appointed; and to what extent the proportion of part-time members from private industry has been increased in relation to local authority and general consumer interest.

Sir I. Horobin

By statute, these appointments must be made from amongst persons having the proper capacity and experience. In deciding the best composition of these boards, my noble Friend desires to see a greater proportion of whole-time members by the inclusion of executives of the industries, and has recently made some such appointments in pursuance of this policy. It is not possible to classify board members into rigid categories, but there has been no significant change in the character of the part-time members during the last two years.

Mr. Palmer

Can the Minister give the House an assurance that his noble Friend appreciates that electricity and gas are essentially public services and that, therefore, general community interests should normally take precedence over sectional interests?

Sir I. Horobin

I do not think that is quite the way this matter should be looked at. The primary business of these boards is to provide the public with good, cheap electricity and gas. I know that the policy of my noble Friend is directed as far as possible to securing that that is done.