HC Deb 20 December 1967 vol 756 cc1256-7
14. Mr. Gresham Cooke

asked the Minister of Transport how many people were officially approached to become Chairman of British Railways before the post was filled.

19. Mr. Ridley

asked the Minister of Transport what is to be the salary of the new chairman of British Railways.

103. Mr. Cronin

asked the Minister of Transport what emoluments will be received by the new Chairman of British Railways.

Mrs. Castle

I am sure that hon. and right hon. Members on both sides of the House will agree that it should be the rule to observe strict confidence about the necessary preliminary soundings leading up to the appointment of Chairmen and members of nationalised boards. In view of the widespread speculation in the Press, however, I think it right in this instance to state that Mr. Peter Parker was the only person to whom the post was offered apart from Mr. Johnson. He was offered a salary of £12,500 per annum, which is the salary which Mr. Johnson will receive.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Is it not true that the right hon. Lady approached about eight business men for this job? If she had been prepared to pay a proper salary commensurate with the job, could she not have got a business man with the standing of Lord Beeching, for instance?

Mrs. Castle

I do not think that the hon. Gentleman's illustration very much strengthens his case. Of course it is desirable that when appointments are to be made, more than one name should be considered, but the position is as I have said—that Mr. Peter Parker was the only other person to whom the job was offered, apart from Mr. Johnson.

Mr. Ridley

Did not even the right hon. Lady find it rather humiliating to have to shop about to find someone to run this great industry? Would she not have found it very much easier if she could have offered the right rate for the job?

Mrs. Castle

The use of phrases like "shopping about" will not help in his formidable task the distinguished railwayman who, I am glad to say, has offered to carry it out.

Mr. Galbraith

How many people were asked whether, if they were approached, they would be interested?

Mrs. Castle

I certainly have no intention of informing the House what persons or individuals were under consideration for this important position, but the facts remain as I have stated them. I want to say to the House that, Mr. Johnson having accepted the post, I have every confidence in him and in his ability.

Mr. Leslie Huckfield

Is my right hon. Friend aware that she has earned the gratitude of railwaymen all over the country by being one of the first Ministers of Transport to appoint a railwayman to the post of Chairman of British Railways?

Mrs. Castle

I entirely agree that Mr. Johnson is a railwayman with a very distinguished record. The House should concentrate on helping him to make a success of his job.