HC Deb 13 November 1958 vol 595 cc558-9
32. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much the Iron and Steel Holdings Realisation Agency authorised Richard Thomas and Baldwin's Limited to contribute to a publication issued by the British Iron and Steel Federation in October, 1958, attacking steel nationalisation; and whether he will give instructions that public money should not be spent on subsidising propaganda against public ownership.

52. Mr. Marquand

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps are taken by the Iron and Steel Holding and Realisation Agency to ensure that no contributions are made, directly or indirectly, by iron and steel companies, the shares of which are held by the Agency, towards advertising or other forms of a political campaign against national ownership of the industry.

Mr. Erroll

It is a standing instruction from the Agency to the companies they hold that no contribution should be made to any political organisation. Richard Thomas and Baldwin's, in common with other steel producers, makes a contribution to the administrative expenses of the British Iron and Steel Federation. No question arose of making any special contribution to the publication to which the hon. Member presumably refers.

Mr. Allaun

But is it not a fact that Richard Thomas, which is still publicly owned, have contributed towards recent Steel Federation advertisements in the newspapers, in addition to the pamphlet I have mentioned, attacking public ownership and costing thousands of pounds? Is it not grossly unfair and inequitable that the Government should be using taxpayers' money to subsidise what is virtually Conservative Party policy?

Mr. Erroll

As I said, no question of any special provision arose, and I should like to stress that the Agency keeps the question of subscriptions under continual review.

Mr. Marquand

Will the hon. Gentleman give an undertaking that the Government also will keep it strictly under review and ensure that no contributions, directly or indirectly, are made on a political matter like this by companies which are still the property of the nation and the people?

Mr. Erroll

My right hon. Friend has every confidence in the Agency carrying out its periodical review.

Mr. J. Griffiths

Will the hon. Gentleman state that the Government deprecate any public body of this kind using public money for party political purposes?

Mr. K. Robinson

Answer yes or no.

Mr. Erroll

I think that is a hypothetical question.

Hon. Members


Mr. H. Wilson

In view of the earlier Questions, will the hon. Gentleman say whether in paying money to the Iron and Steel Federation, Richard Thomas and Baldwin have a right to opt out of paying that part of the money which is devoted to political purposes, as every trade unionist in this country has?

Mr. Erroll

My right hon. Friend has no responsibility for the affairs of the British Iron and Steel Federation.

Mr. Jay

Is this not just further evidence of corrupt practices by the party opposite?

Hon. Members


Mr. Marquand

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply to my Question No. 52, I give notice that I will raise this matter on the Adjournment.