HC Deb 21 February 1967 vol 741 cc1402-4
4. Mr. Rowland

asked the Minister of Power if he has yet determined the level of remuneration of the members of the board of the National Steel Corporation: and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Marsh

Not yet, Sir.

Mr. Rowland

When the right hon. Gentleman reaches his decision in this matter, will he bear in mind that many of his hon. Friends—perhaps not the most vociferous—believe that these salaries should be fixed at a level to attract the best people, rather in the manner of Shell or I.C.I., so that the steel industry will be as well managed as they are?

Mr. Marsh

I do not hesitate to confirm my hon. Friend's view that it is essential for an industry of this size to attract the very best people. There are, however, other factors to be taken into account, including incomes policy and the salaries structure in the nationalised industries.

Mr. Barber

Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that, after saying for months that it is his intention that the National Steel Corporation should be run on strictly commercial lines, it is outrageous that he cannot reach a decision on this basic issue? If the Government dither for weeks on a straightforward issue of this kind, what hope is there that the Government will be able to run the steel industry efficiently?

Mr. Marsh

There is no question of the Government's dithering on this issue. Salaries will be set for the Corporation. It must be remembered that salaries in outside commercial industries vary very much.

Mr. Shinwell

Can my right hon. Friend tell me who are the best people? Are we to select them only from a collection of industrial tycoons?

Mr. Marsh

I would have thought that the word "tycoon" has rather emotive fringes. We want to get into the industry people with the experience and the ability to undertake large-scale industrial management. To be able to do that we must offer them appropriate salaries. The only point at issue between myself and hon. Members opposite is that they fail to recognise that there are wide divergences of salaries in outside industries, and also that we have been able to attract into nationalised industries some first-rate people.

Mr. Alison

Can the Minister assure us that the best men will be selected, irrespective of their political views and their political utterances?

Mr. Manuel

As long as they are Tories.

Mr. Marsh

Everyone agrees that the right men should be selected, but there tend to be different views about the actual people.