HC Deb 22 November 1966 vol 736 cc1311-29

(1) The Board shall keep proper accounts and other records in relation thereto and shall prepare in respect of each financial year of the Board a statement of accounts in such form as the Minister may direct, being a form which shall conform to the best commercial standards and which shall distinguish each separate activity undertaken in pursuance of the powers of the Act and the provisions of section 31 of the Act of 1946 shall apply accordingly. (2) The Board shall include in their accounts submitted to the Minister in accordance with the said section 31, a full statement of accounts in respect of any company owned by the Board in whole or in part to whom the Board have supplied or intend to supply gas or petroleum got in the exercise of the powers conferred by this Act and the Minister shall include such accounts, together with a copy of any report made by the Company's auditors amongst the statements and accounts laid before Parliament in accordance with subsection (4) of the said section 31.—[Mr. Corfield.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Corfield

I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.

The purpose of this new Clause is not dissimilar from that which we have been discussing. It is to ensure that even if Parliament is denied, by the obstinacy of the Government, any opportunity to review the amount of money borrowed for this new investment, Parliament and public should at least be able to judge fully the financial results of these investments in the report and accounts annually published by the Coal Board.

There is only one aspect of this new Clause to which I would particularly draw attention, and that is the intent that the accounts of subsidiaries which are closely tied up with this operation should also appear. I have already mentioned Staveley Chemicals, and it is quite clear that this is a company which could have very substantial advantages if it were supplied by the Coal Board on favourable terms with one of its essential feedstocks. For that reason, we feel that not only should the accounts of the operations of the Coal Board be available, and kept separately, but also the accounts of any subsidiary so affected by those operations. I am absolutely astonished that the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock) should regard a mere list of subsidiaries—[HON. MEMBERS: "Where is he?"]—as any indication of their financial results. However, I have no desire in any way to prolong our proceedings.

Sir G. Nabbarro

I support my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucestershire, South (Mr. Corfield). It was an intervention by the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock)—[HON. MEMBERS: "Where is he?"] Echo answers: "Where is he?"

Dr. M. P. Winstanley (Cheadle)

He will be here shortly.

Sir G. Nabarro

I hope he shows up soon.

It was the intervention of the hon. Member for Orpington that prolonged our proceedings. The hon. Member, who has no knowledge whatever of accountancy, who is incapable of reading a commercial balance-sheet, who would not recognise a manufacturing return or a trading account in contrast to a drum of oil—

Mr. John Pardoe (Cornwall, North)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The House may welcome the hon. Gentleman's histrionics, but I fail to see what they have to do with the new Clause we have before us.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Member is perfectly in order in mentioning the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock) as long as he does not go into too much detail about the previous discussion.

Sir G. Nabarro

As the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe) has only just arrived in the Chamber after a prolonged absence, and as I have been present throughout the debates on the Bill—and I am glad that the hon. Gentleman does not dissent from my remarks about his absence—I repeat that the hon. Member for Orpington intervened in the discussion on an earlier new Clause to give certain information. He said that the full accounts of non-coalmining activities were available for public scrutiny. He then drew attention to the Report and Accounts of the National Coal Board and referred, in Volume II, to the statistical tables on page 16. When I turn to pages 16 and 17 of that document I find that they do not contain audited accounts in the form called for in new Clause 2. The title on page 16 is: Interest in trading undertakings not wholly owned". The hon. Member for Orpington does not know the difference between a minority interest on the one hand and an audited set of accounts on the other. His knowledge of these matters is both pathetic and abysmal.

Dr. Winstanley

The hon. Gentleman will be reminded, when he reads the report of the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock) in tomorrow's OFFICIAL REPORT, that the quotations the hon. Gentleman is making from my hon. Friend's speech are wholly inaccurate.

Sir G. Nabarro


Dr. Winstanley

I was here throughout my hon. Friend's speech, if that is what the hon. Gentleman means. My hon. Friend's reference to the page of the document to which the hon. Gentleman refers was made in answer to a question asked by one of the hon. Gentleman's colleagues and was not meant to be relevant to the accounts to which he is now referring.

Mr. Pardoe


Sir G. Nabarro

I was saying—

Mr. Pardoe

Give way.

Sir G. Nabarro

The hon. Member for Cornwall, North really is becoming obstreperous. I advise him to remain sedentary.

The purpose of the new Clause is exactly in consonance with best company practice. It is enshrined in the Companies Bill, which the Treasury introduced to Parliament only a few days ago. It requires that audited reports and accounts, not only of the parent company but of all subsidiary companies, shall be presented at least once a year.

This North Sea undertaking is in the position of a subsidiary to the N.C.B.s activities. It is utterly different from the remaining activities of the Board. The NG.B. is concerned with the deep mining of coal and, to a small extent, with opencast mining, with a few ancillary activities resulting from the fundamental purpose of the Board, which is the mining of coal.

What my hon. Friends and I want—and this is the purpose of the new Clause—is to be able to examine each year the trading accounts first, the manufacturing accounts secondly and the profit and loss accounts thirdly, with the auditors' certificate attached in respect of the questing and exploration for oil and natural gas beneath the North Sea by the N.C.B. And a very legitimate purpose that is. [Interruption.] I gather that the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Manuel) said, "You could not get your own Government to do it". But Tory Governments for 13 years were not stupid enough to undertake activities of this kind, activities which are wholly irrelevant to the main purpose and activity of the N.C.B., which is the mining of coal.

I hope that my hon. Friends will unanimously support this demand for good company practice in accountancy matters. [Interruption.] From that interruption, it is obvious that, among other hon. Gentlemen opposite, the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire did not listen to what I was saying. I will repeat it for his benefit.

Mr. Archie Manuel (Central Ayrshire)

Oh, no.

Sir G. Nabarro

This request is exactly in consonance with the best company practice, delineated in the Government's Companies Bill which was presented to Parliament a few days ago. Why is there to be one law, one company law, for a private enterprise company and another for a nationalised undertaking? We are concerned with company law; why is there to be a difference? The Parliamentary Secretary pulls a wry face at that sally—

11.15 p.m.

Sir Walter Bromley-Davenport (Knutsford)

It is his usual expression.

Sir G. Nabarro

My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Knutsford (Sir W. Bromley-Davenport) says it is his normal feature. Well, I am sorry for him. The fact is that I shall largely support the Companies Bill, brought forward today in this House—there are a few things wrong with it—but company practice should apply equally—the hon. Member for Orpington comes skulking in almost on his hands and knees, doubtlessly having been warned of the difficulties in the Liberal dug-out over this subject.

I was about to say that company law should apply equally to the nationalised boards, and I hope that we shall not have any nonsense from the Parliamentary Secretary when he comes to reply that, of course, the reports of the National Coal Board are produced before this House once a year. They are; we all know that they are, but what the Parliamentary Secretary will not tell us is that the reports and accounts for the subsidiaries will not be presented.

What is more, perhaps those fervent Socialists opposite, those untiring, strong supporters of the sacred cow of nationalisation, who will enlighten the House later in this debate, will also tell us when we last debated the report and accounts of the National Coal Board. Will they tell us when we last had a day on that subject? I can tell them. It was nearly five years ago. There are, normally, only three nationalisation days each year, and for five years—1 say to them, for five years—this sacred cow of nationalisation, with all the implications in it, has been hidden away from the public gaze. It was hidden away, were the report and accounts of the National Coal Board, so that nobody should scrutinise too closely the nefarious activities of that Board. [Interruption.] Yes, I say that they were hidden from the public gaze. So I hope that the Parlimentary Secretary will not get up and say to this House that there is an opportunity to debate the report and accounts of this sacred cow.

I call upon all my right hon. and hon. Friends to vote with me in the Lobby tonight in order to register the very strongest disapproval of the habits of Socialism.

Mr. Webster

I am encouraged to come into this debate because of the remarks of the Parliamentary Secretary in reply to the last Amendment. With my usual fervent desire to keep within the rules of order, I asked if it was in order to ask the Parliamentary Secretary about the accountability of the Minister to the House. You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will recollect, because you were then in the Chair at the time, that the Parliamentary Secretary then said that the Minister carried out a greater scrutiny of the affairs of the Coal Board than could this House. If I am misrepresenting him, I shall withdraw. As he does not correct me, I understand this to be what he said.

One then asks when is the Minister accountable to the House. My hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) said that the report and accounts of the Coal Board are presented to the House each year, but, as he said very appropriately, they are not debated every year. The Government do not give time for them to be debated. It is very essential when this extra money is given that they should be debated.

The hon. Member for Dearne Valley (Mr. Edwin Wainwright) almost gave notice that he would speak on the last Clause. We hope that he will give us his views on this. I value his opinion. I gathered from the happy smile he gave me that he was with us. As he nods his head, I take it as a sign of agreeable consent and that he will join us in this debate on this sound principle.

Mr. Edwin Wainwright

Is not the hon. Member aware that his Government for seven years did not debate the coal industry at all?

Sir G. Nabarro

I made them.

Mr. Wainwright

Why did not the hon. Member force it on them?

Mr. Webster

The hon. Member heard my hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South say that he alone made them do it.

Sir G. Nabarro

Absolutely right.

Mr. Webster

I hope the hon. Member for Dearne Valley will support us and make them do it this year.

The Parliamentary Secretary raised the question that the Minister is more efficient than the House and said that he had a closer scrutiny than this House could ever have, It is for the House of Commons to say how scrutiny should be exercised. My hon. Friend has been talking about accountability of nationalised industries. There are 14 such industries within the ambit of the nationalised industries, and my hon. Friend is a member of the Select Committee on Nationalised Industries. Only one was examined every 14 years. As another member of the Select Committee on Nationalised Industries, I point out that the Committee is now diving and bifurcating itself. It has increased its membership and now looks into two of the industries each year, so it is not quite so difficult, but this still means than an industry is examined only once in seven years.

With these additional borrowing powers, financial powers and worries about Staveley Industries and American companies, it is more essential for the Select Committee to examine the industry. As expressed in this new Clause, the House should have the right to look at this matter, knowing that every hon. Member opposite is granting his constituents' money to keep alive this vast mass of subventions.

Another need regarding annual accounting is a principle of constitutional value which can be debated if it is looked at every year. The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) has enlivened the House on this subject in debates on the Army Act, the Air Force Act and in defence debates, which by rule come to the House every year. Why should the nationalised industries not be give the same scrutiny as the Armed Forces? We are not attacking the nationalised industries, but at least let them come under the same principle which we try to apply to other aspects of great expenditure.

Mr. Peyton

I accept without question that it is impossible to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Nevertheless, I had expected and hoped that, when so reasonable and modest a new Clause as this was put, either the Minister or the Parliamentary Secretary would leap up, if only to save time, and accept it. It is clear that what is right for private enterprise must surely be right for nationalised industries.

The right hon. Gentleman is satisfied that he has all the control he needs over the Board. It is something I absolutely deny, and I do not believe that he himself really thinks it. But if, as he claims, he has this sort of control, surely he would be willing to accept this reasonable new Clause, so modestly moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucestershire, South (Mr. Corfield) and so reasonably supported by my hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro), with his customary brevity and modesty and with the great cogency of argument that he was able to bring to bear. [Laughter.] The applause from hon. Members opposite is the brave sound we have become accustomed to and it is rather stimulating to me. It had been my intention only to make a few brief remarks, but I am bound to say that the stimulus revealed by the earnest attention, applause and reactions of hon. Members opposite is gratifying.

Sir John Eden (Bournemouth, West)

I am sure my hon. Friend will agree that the degree of interest shown by hon. Members opposite tonight is in marked contrast with the lethargy shown by those of them who serve on the Iron and Steel Bill Standing Committee, who sit silent in seried ranks like a row of winter cabbages in a flooded field. What a contrast with the "cheerful Charlies" opposite!

Mr. Peyton

It takes me a few moments to recover from that. But I think my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West (Sir J. Eden) is a little less than fair and kind to bring up such a horrid argument at this late hour and rub their noses in it. It is most ungenerous and uncharacteristic of him, because normally he is such a generous and kindly person. And when he goes on to compare them with wet cabbages floundering in a sea of mud—

Mr. Ridley

Red cabbages.

Mr. Peyton

I accept the amendment, but I will not trespass any more on your indulgence, Mr. Deputy Speaker, nor will I seek any more time. But how difficult it is made for me to be as modest and restrained as I wish to be! [interruption.] All I get are these cheers or jeers—I know not which, for it is very difficult to distinguish between the applause and disapprobation of hon. Members opposite.

Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)

This is like Sunday night at the Palladium.

Mr. Peyton

The hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) is highly distinguished for his sedentary interruptions. He enjoys the sound of his own voice and in that alone he is unique.

I have no intention of further trespassing on your indulgence, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I only crave leave to express my profound disappointment that neither the Minister nor the Parliamentary Secretary has had the common sense to accept this very reasonable new Clause.

11.30 p.m.

Sir J. Eden

This is an excellent new Clause which should certainly commend itself to the House. The fact that so many hon. Members opposite are still in the Chamber indicates their degree of sympathy with its objective.

As has been said, there is before Parliament, having reached its Second Reading stage in another place, the Companies Bill which requires that public quoted companies should give a much greater degree of information. By and large, this is a proposition which most hon. Members will support. But public quoted companies already have a safeguard provided by the shareholding interests which watch over their proceedings. Hon. Members opposite may from time to time discount the efficacy of the shareholders' activities, but that is probably because they are so used to trade union activities and the fact that trade unionists do not bother to turn up at their branch meetings, thus allowing their affairs to fall into the hands of those who are not particularly keen on the administration of democratic institutions.

But the activities of shareholders certainly ensure that the public interest is guarded with public quoted companies. What is more important, they do a great deal to ensure that those companies do no branch out into unprofitable activities, and I think that the test is profitability. When considering the performance of any commercial enterprise, public quoted company, or publicly owned company, or nationalised industry, or any company dependent upon the public support of shareholding interests, the test and standard by which its activities should be judged is the degree to which it is able to secure an adequate return on the capital invested in it.

Public quoted companies are subject to these safeguards and nationalised industries are not. They are not answerable to the normal disciplines of the market. I am concerned to ensure that in so far as nationalised industries are permitted to diversify into a wide range of activities—

Mr. Bernard Conlan (Gateshead, East) rose

Sir J. Eden

I will not encourage the hon. Gentleman to intervene. I am sure that he will incur the wrath of his Front Bench if I permit him to do so. I have only a couple more sentences. If he wishes to make any comment, no doubt he will be able to catch the eye of the Chair.

Mr. Conlan rose

Sir J. Eden

I will not give way. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to make a speech, he can rise to his feet when I have sat down.

The Bill will give a nationalised industry power to diversify into a number of other activities not even connected with the primary purpose for which the industry was nationalised in the first place.

My hon. Friends have already mentioned the subsidiary company, Staveley Chemicals, and the interests of the National Coal Board in bricks and distribution. All that I am concerned to see is that these varied and separate activities are properly accounted for. I am concerned to see that in each instance information is as readily available to Members of this House and the public as would information pertaining to publicly quoted companies be available, under the Companies Bill, to shareholders.

No one is asking anything more than that. The Parliamentary Secretary and his right hon. Friend have repeatedly, during discussions in Committee on the Iron and Steel Bill, advanced the proposition that the National Steel Corporation should be placed on an equal footing with private enterprise. This is the other side of the coin. We are asking, in this new Clause, that the Board shall disclose as much detailed information as is required to be disclosed by publicly quoted companies. This is the very least that hon. Members can expect in order to ensure that the industry is in some way answerable to some of the disciplines to which other commercial enterprises are subject.

We have a duty to ensure that the expenditure of public funds is properly managed, to see that where public money is involved, it is invested in a proper manner and shows a reasonable return. We cannot do that unless information is made available in published form. This is all that we are asking for in this New Clause, and I believe that the right hon. Gentleman must accept it.

Mr. Michael Shaw (Scarborough and Whitby)

My intervention in this interesting and important debate will be brief. There is an important principle involved here which has been well brought out by earlier speeches, in particular that of my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West (Sir J. Eden). I want to look at the same point that he raised from a different angle.

In our discussions in Committee on the Iron and Steel Bill we have seen the wide range of diversification that can take place in the nationalised industries, across the whole spectrum of industry. We have seen that it will be possible for nationalisation to take place either by means of the nationalised corporation entering directly into the industry through trading activities, for which it takes responsibility, or taking an active part, through a subsidiary company. As these interests widen, in so far as they are widened through the use of subsidiary companies, those companies would have to conform to the disciplines of the Companies Act, and produce the relevant information demanded by that Act.

If the diversification takes place as a result of the nationalised corporation carrying on the activity in question, then it will not be subject to the disciplines of the Companies Act and the presentation of information required under that Act. It will then have to present information in accordance with the appropriate nationalisation Act. There are two different methods which can be adopted by the nationalised industries, and it is wrong that there should be this option to use either a subsidiary company method, in which case the information is automatically given, or to deal directly through either the Coal Board or the National Steel Corporation, so escaping the disciplines of having to produce accounts and the information required by the Companies Act. The information required should be the same in all cases and should be not less than the information that is required of every other public company.

For these reasons the new Clause, which has been put forward so briefly and modestly by my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucestershire, South (Mr. Corfield) and supported so pertinently by my other hon. Friends, is worthy of our support, which should be carried through to the Division Lobby.

Mr. Ridley

My hon. Friend the Member for Scarborough and Whitby (Mr. Michael Shaw), an accountant, always puts these matters with the greatest of clarity. His explanation of the need for comparable accounts could not be faulted. I was, however, interested in the tactics which the Minister is employing and which he is practising, presumably, for the many late nights that he will sit up arguing his hopeless case on this issue.

On one occasion in Committee on the Iron and Steel Bill, the Minister referred to his hon. Friends and said that he had never seen a salmon played as well as they were playing. Tonight, however, all that he has done is to ask all the salmon to get out of the river. My hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West (Sir J. Eden) has referred to them as a lot of red cabbages sitting in a flooded field, but I think that the fishy analogy is better. Tonight, we have seen the Minister ask them to leave the Chamber for fear that they might have the temerity to speak and blunder into the argument again.

It is extraordinary that either the Minister or the Parliamentary Secretary has not sprung to his feet to accept the new Clause. It is identical in purpose, if not in words, with a new Clause which was accepted with alacrity in the Iron and Steel Bill Committee. Where the Steel Corporation is to diversify into other activities, the Parliamentary Secretary was quick to accept the principle that separate accounts should be published giving a clear indication of what was capital and what was a contribution to management, to common services and the like. The hon. Gentleman said that he wished to alter the drafting. We would have no objection to his altering the drafting of this new Clause as long as the principle was met. How could it be that he accepts the principle for one nationalised industry but not for another?

A further difficulty is that the Minister has no chance to redraft the new Clause because this is the last stage of the Bill in this House. He might be able to get it redrafted in another place, but I am surprised that the Parliamentary Secretary has not put down his own new Clause to meet the point which my hon. Friends have made. Such an oversight is extraordinary.

The only justification of accountability which we have had from the Government in this whole debate is twofold: first, that the Minister vets all capital programmes, and second, that the Minister is accountable to Parliament. I want to take a minute or two to examine those two propositions. The first is that the Minister will vet each item of capital expenditure of the nationalised industries.

He has under him three major industries, and soon he will have a fourth. In the aggregate, they must spend something like £600 or £700 million a year in capital investment. Each thousand pounds in a private business is checked and vetted by the directors. They ask themselves from where they are to get this money, where are they to earn the dividend on it, what rate of interest will they have to pay to borrow it, is it economic, are there better ways of doing it, and is it a proper investment to make with the ultimate commercial objective in mind?

How will the Minister or his civil servants go through hundreds of millions of pounds of capital expenditure with those sorts of considerations in mind? How can he know whether the proposed investment is profitable, and how can his civil servants tell him? They do not know the factors involved, they do not know what are the chances of a profitable investment in the North Sea, and they will not have the facts, the technical knowledge, the time or the expertise at their disposal. Yet the right hon. Gentleman comes to the House and says, "We will check it at every step, and this will amount to Parliamentary accountability."

He comes along to the House and says, "Because I am the Minister of Power, I can be questioned in the House, and that gives the House all the say and control that it should have in supervising the conduct of this investment." What a proposition! He knows that debates on nationalised industries are few and far between, and he knows that he need not answer any question which is put to him. Indeed, it is a habit which he has brought to a fine art in the Committee considering the Iron and Steel Bill, where he does not answer any question which is put to him. He knows very well that, if there is an awkward question, it can be swept under the mat and need never be answered in Parliament. He knows, too, that the Comptroller and Auditor-General has no power to investigate these matters in detail. There is no ombudsman for the nationalised industries, and there is no conceivable weapon by which the right hon. Gentleman can be smoked out if he spreads his tentacles too far into the fabric of a nationalised industry.

11.45 p.m.

The two defences that the Minister will vet capital expenditure and will be accountable to Parliament do not stand up to one minute's investigation. Hon. Gentlemen opposite have not the slightest doubt about the truth of my arguments. Not one of them looks as if he wishes to intervene and contradict what I have said. Each of them in his heart of hearts knows it to be true.

I suggest that the Clause has to be accepted. It does not go far enough for me, but at least it acknowledges the principle of Parliamentary control and the principle that proper accounts should be made. There are many reasons and details concerning this with which I will not weary the House. Suffice it to say that, if the Minister is not prepared to meet this side of the House on the point, he will find himself faced with a running opposition on the whole of his activities. We believe that it is necessary for him to look not just to the glory of the moment but to the future, when we shall have to make this vast extension in the sphere of public enterprise and be guardians of the taxpayers' money.

I am certain that he will do himself a great disservice if he does not acknowledge the principle which my hon. Friends have put forward so eloquently and accept the new Clause.

Dr. Bray

The activities which the National Coal Board will be empowered to undertake by the Bill will be regarded as main ancillary activities which the main National Coal Board Acts enable the Minister to require to be accounted for separately in the Annual Reports of the National Coal Board. The Clause refers to each separate activity, though it does not define this in any way. What I can give an undertaking on—and I repeat what I said in Committee—is that the costs incurred by the Board in the North Sea exploration will be given in the Board's accounts. My right hon. Friend's powers are wholly adequate to secure the publication of accounts in whatever form he may consider to be most illuminating and helpful. My right hon. Friend is constantly in discussion with the Board, and he is continuing discussions with it on the form in which the accounts should be published.

The interests of the Board in companies which it does not wholly own are listed. The accounts of these companies are published, and it is open to any member of the public who may be interested in any company to look at its accounts. What hon. Gentlemen opposite are asking is that someone should do the homework and should collate these accounts for them. This is an arguable point of view, and it is something which—

Mr. Corfield

I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman has tried to go down to Company House to get hold of the accounts of a company. I do not know whether he knows how long it takes to get things sorted out, and then to get a copy and study it. There are limits to the time available to hon. Members.

Dr. Bray

The hon. Gentleman referred in particular to one company which has been harped on over and over again in this debate. The facts about the company may not be generally known. The company about which the hon. Member for Wanstead and Woodford (Mr. Patrick Jenkin) is concerned is engaged, or is likely to be engaged, in the manufacture of p.v.c. This is a product in respect of which this country had a major deficit in the balance of payments. By going into this field the Board will fill a serious gap in chemical industry manufacture in this country. What hon. Gentlemen opposite are fearful of is competition in a highly protected field in which the Board is undertaking a major investment which will be of the greatest benefit to the nation.

Hon. Gentlemen have been particularly concerned about the question of cross-subsidisation. This again has not been brought out in the debate. They seek to put the Board at a competitive disadvantage in relation to other North Sea operators.

Mr. Corfield

Surely the Clause is confined to accounts? I did not mention any company. I merely asked the hon. Gentleman to bear in mind the difficulty of collecting these matters, and the convenience of the House and the public. The purpose of the Clause is to have them put together. It has nothing to do with p.v.c., or anything else.

Dr. Bray

We can check in the OFFICIAL REPORT tomorrow whether the hon. Gentleman mentioned the name of this company in connection with the Clause.

Sir G. Nabarro

I did not mention it.

Dr. Bray

In the circumstances, the full disclosure of the money invested and the return received by the Board from this activity will be published. To ask for more, to ask for information which would enable particular commercial costs to be identified, information which is not, I repeat not, required under the Companies Acts, would put the Board and any company with which it collaborated—

Sir G. Nabarro

The hon. Gentleman has promised that he will lay the costs before the House. That is not what my hon. Friends and I have been pleading for. We want a statement of accounts in accordance with the words in the Clause. It is nothing to do with Staveley. The words are: intend to supply gas or petroleum".

That has nothing to do with Staveley. We want accounts.

Dr. Bray

Other hon. Members talked about costs, and I was endeavouring to reply to them. I assure the House that the total costs incurred by the Board will be published in full in the reports. I therefore repeat of this new Clause, as I did of the last, that its intention is already achieved, and that the powers of my right hon. Friend are more than adequate to secure that already. I therefore advise my hon. Friends to vote against the new Clause.

Question put, The Clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 97, Noes 165.

Division No. 206.] AYES [11.56 p.m.
Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n) Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) More, Jasper
Awdry, Daniel Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.) Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles
Balniel, Lord Glyn, Sir Richard Nabarro, Sir Gerald
Batsford, Brian Grant, Anthony Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael
Biffen, John Grant-Ferris, R. Onslow, Cranley
Biggs-Davison, John Gresham Cooke, R. Osborn, John (Hallam)
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Page, Graham (Crosby)
Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Gurden, Harold Peel, John
Brewis, John Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Peyton, John
Bromley-Davenport, Lt. Col. Sir Walter Hamilton, Marquess of (Fermanagh) Pink, R. Bonner
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Price, David (Eastleigh)
Bryan, Paul Hawkins, Paul Prior, J. M. L.
Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N&M) Hiley, Joseph Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
Buck, Antony (Colchester) Hill, J, E B. Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Campbell, Cordon Holland, Philip Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Chichester-Clark, R. Hordern, Peter Russell, Sir Ronald
Clark, Henry Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Sharples, Richard
Clegg, Walter Kimball, Marcus Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Cooke, Robert King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Sinclair, Sir George
Corfield, F. V. Kirk, Peter Stodart, Anthony
Costain, A. P. Kitson, Timothy Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Crawley, Aidan Knight, Mrs. Jill vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Currie, G. B. H. Langford-Holt, Sir John Wall, Patrick
Dalkeith, Earl of Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Walters, Dennis
Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.) Loveys, W. H. Webster, David
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford) Maddan, Martin Whitelaw, William
Eden, Sir John Maginnis, John E. Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Marten, Neil Wylie, N. R.
Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.) Maude, Angus Younger, Hn. George
Eyre, Reginald Mawby, Ray
Farr, John Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Fisher, Nigel Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Mr. Francis Pym and
Fortescue, Tim Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Mr. Peter Blaker.
Foster, Sir John Monro, Hector
Alraun, Frank (Salford, E.) Boston, Terence Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)
Alldritt, Walter Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)
Allen, Scholefield Bray, Dr. Jeremy Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)
Archer, Peter Brooks, Edwin Davies, Harold (Leek)
Armstrong, Ernest Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W) Doig, Peter
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.) Buchan, Norman Durnett, Jack
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter)
Barnes, Michael Butler, Herbert (Hackney, c.) Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e)
Baxter, William Cant, R. B. Eadie, Alex
Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton) Carmichael, Neil Edelman, Maurice
Bidwell, Sydney Coe, Denis Edwards, William (Merioneth)
Bishop, E. S. Concannon, J. D. Ellis, John
Blackburn, F. Conlan, Bernard Ensor, David
Blenkinsop, Arthur Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Evans, loan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley)
Boardman, H. Cullen, Mrs. Alice Faulds, Andrew
Booth, Albert Dalyell, Tarn Fernyhough, E.
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Ledger, Ron Perry, Ernest C. (Battersea, S.)
Floud, Bernard Lee, John (Reading) Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)
Foley, Maurice Lestor, Miss Joan Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)
Foot, Michael (Ebby Vale) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Price, William (Rugby)
Forrester, John Lomas, Kennern Randall, Harry
Fowler, Gerry Loughlin, Charles Reynolds, G. W.
Fraser, John (Norwood) Luard, Evan Rhodes, Geoffrey
Galpern, Sir Myer Lubbock, Eric Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Gardner, Tony McBride, Neil Robertson, John (Paisley)
Garrow, Alex McCann, John Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.)
Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross & Crom'ty) Rodgers, William (Stockton)
Grey, Charles (Durham) Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen) Rose, Paul
Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.) Mackintosh, John P. Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Ryan, John
Hamling, William McNamara, J. Kevin Sheldon, Robert
Hannan, William Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.) Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Manuel, Archie Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Haseldine, Norman Mapp, Charles Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Hazell, Bert Marquand, David Small, William
Heffer, Eric S. Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Henig, Stanley Mayhew, Christopher Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Hooley, Frank Millan, Bruce Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)
Horner, John Miller, Dr. M. S. Varley, Eric G.
Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.) Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test) Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Howie, W. Molloy, William Walden, Brian (All Saints)
Hoy, James Moonman, Eric Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Hughes, Emrye (Ayrshire, S.) Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Well beloved, James
Hughes, Roy (Newport) Moyle, Roland White, Mrs. Eirene
Hunter, Adam Murray, Albert Whitlock, William
Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak) Norwood, Christopher Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n&St. P' cras, S.) Oakes, Gordon Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) O'Malley, Brian Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)
Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.) Orme, Stanley Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Jones, Dan (Burnley) Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn) Winnick, David
Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Owen, Will (Morpeth) Winstanley, Dr. M. P.
Kelley, Richard Page, Derek (King's Lynn) Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Kenyon, Clifford Pardoe, John Yates, Victor
Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham) Park, Trevor
Lawson, George Pavitt, Laurence TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Leadbitter, Ted Pentland, Norman Mr. Harry Gourlay and
Mr. Alan Fitch.