HC Deb 04 February 1960 vol 616 cc1218-9
43. Mr. F. Noel-Baker

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why Command Paper No.911, presented in December, does not list the members of British Railways Area Boards with other members of public boards of a commercial character.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Sir Edward Boyle)

Because the members of the British Railways Area Boards are not appointed by a Minister.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Will not the hon. Gentleman agree that, although there may be a technical difference, the public is as entitled to information about the membership of these area boards and their remuneration as it is to information about members of area boards of other nationalised industries? Will he at least undertake to use his good offices with the Ministry of Transport and the British Transport Commission to make this information generally available, as it is of very considerable public interest?

Sir E. Boyle

I will bear the hon. Gentleman's point in mind, but the criteria we have adopted in deciding which public boards the White Paper should include have always been, first, whether or not the members are appointed by a Minister and, secondly, whether the organisation concerned is primarily engaged in trading operations. That has been the procedure under successive Governments and I think that we should think carefully before altering it.

Sir G. Nicholson

Whether or not we know the names and remuneration of these ladies and gentlemen, may we be told whether they are doing anything at all that is useful?

Sir E. Boyle

That is a question for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport.