HC Deb 08 April 1965 vol 710 cc657-8
37. Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

asked the First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs what procedures he used to select names for nomination to the Regional Economic Council for the West Midlands.

Mr. George Brown

I consulted the local authority associations, the Trades Union Congress, the national employers' organisations, and others with a substantial interest, and added some names of my own.

Mr. Lloyd

I acknowledge that the right hon. Gentleman has appointed many excellent representatives of industry and important education institutions, but does he not think, on reflection, that, in the interests of securing acceptance of the council's activities, it was a mistake to confine the local government representatives from Birmingham to two representatives from only one political party, especially as Birmingham is the centre of the West Midlands Region in respect of which the right hon. Gentleman said yesterday the Government were pursuing a constructive industrial policy?

Mr. Brown

I noticed that, when the right hon. Gentleman talked about excellent representatives, he referred only to employers and education institutions. I have appointed some excellent representatives of trade unions, too. As regards Birmingham, let me make quite plain that I have not appointed any of these people as representatives at all. They are there because they are important, outstanding and very good people in the region who will look after the region as a whole.

Mr. Snow

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the areas outside Birmingham by no means accept the general proposition that Birmingham is necessarily the hub of the West Midlands? Further, will he take it that we are well content with the Labour Party representatives and the trade unions leaders whom he has appointed?

Mr. Heath

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, in view of the facetious frivolity with which he has hidden his ignorance this afternoon in answering our questions—

Mr. Shinwell

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I, with respect, draw your attention to the fact that, quite recently, the right hon. Member for Bexley (Mr. Heath) tried to inflict a speech on the House and he is now beginning a speech—[HON. MEMBERS: "What is the point of order?"]—by indulging in a most irrelevant remark which has nothing to do with Questions?

Mr. Speaker

The right hon. Gentleman is quite right. The purpose of a question is to seek information or to inspire action. An accusation of facetiousness does not necessarily assist.

Mr. Heath

I was about, I hope, to inspire action by the rest of my question, which is to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that we should, in future, much prefer the dull but honest attempts of the Minister of State rather than his own.

Mr. Brown

By whatever methods I hide my ignorance, it is impossible for the right hon. Gentleman to hide his.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I very much doubt that these elegant exchanges enhance the reputation of the House.