HC Deb 15 April 1964 vol 693 cc397-8
10. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Minister of Aviation if permission was sought by or given to Sir William Strath, who was Permanent Secretary of his Department in 1959–60, to become chair-man of British Aluminium Limited and joint managing director of Tube Investments Ltd. within a few months of leaving the Ministry.

Mr. Amery

Sir William Strath sought permission to take an appointments with the British Aluminium Co. Ltd., and Tube Investments Ltd. This was given in November, 1960.

Mr. Allaun

While certainly not suggesting that there was anything corrupt in this case, may I ask whether the right hon.. Gentleman does not think it highly undesirable that so many senior civil servants are leaving for firms which are contractors for the Government? Secondly, since Sir William held the top post at the time of the extraordinary Ferranti affair, will he be giving evidence to the Lang inquiry?

Mr. Amery

On the last point, I do not know whether Sir John Lang has called Sir William Strath: I shall certainly look into that and let the hon.. Gentleman know. I do not think it in the least undesirable that senior civil servants should go to industry, and I am ail for encouraging, as much as one can, the two-way traffic between industry and the Civil Service. There is the example of Sir Arnold Hall, the present head of Hawker Siddeley and a former director of the R.A.E. at Farnborough. I am very anxious to see as much inter-change as possible between industry and the Government in these matters, because I think that the dangers of corruption are very small and the advantages of cross-fertilisation very great.

Mr. Leo

There is a point in what my hon.. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun) has said. Where we have an ex-Permanent Secretary going to a firm which is still working on contracts obtained during the period of his secretary ship, then, no matter what we may think here, it gives scope for all kinds of conjecture outside.

Mr. Amery

I take the point. I think that it is very important equally that a man's knowledge built up at the taxpayer's expense over years on a particular speciality such as aviation should not be loft to the aviation industry or the electronics industry as a whole.

Mr. Holt

Can the Minister say, when he talks about movements both ways, what person from industry has recently taken a top Civil Service job of a similar nature?

Mr. Amery

Sir Arnold Hall has been across the board. He was a director of the R.A.E. and he is now on the beard of Hawker Siddeley. We have many times in our history, particularly in war time, brought people from industry into the Government. I wish that we could find a way of doing this rather more. One of the things that I am trying to do in developments like the Chequers conference and the electronic; conference at Lancaster House is to try to get the experience of industry to bear more closely on Government problems. Another case is the Exports Council which S.B.A.C. has formed, I where both industry and the Civil Service are associated together. I want to foster this if I can.