HC Deb 10 November 1969 vol 791 cc35-6
45. Mr. Atkinson

asked the Minister of Technology what are the duties and functions of the Government's representative on the board of the General Electric Company/English Electric Company.

Mr. Benn

There is no Government representative on the board of the General Electric and English Electric Companies Limited. The Industrial Reorganisation Corporation has an option to nominate a director but has not so far exercised it.

Mr. Atkinson

Is not this an unsatisfactory position in view of the number of questions which are put to Ministers and Members of Parliament by trade unionists on matters concerning redundancy, factory closure, manufacturing policy and other matters? In the absence of a representative, how is it possible for these questions to be debated by the board? We are now informed by Mr. Weinstock that many of these important questions have not been before the board.

Mr. Benn

I think that my hon. Friend is under a misapprehension. Even when there is a Government director, I deal not with the company through him but direct with the chairman, which is the right way of dealing with the matter. On these questions of redundancy and other matters, I have, naturally, always dealt direct with the head of the company.

Sir G. Nabarro

Will the Minister resist all blandishments from behind him to enlarge policies involving "Meddlesome Matty" tactics by trade unionists or others?

Mr. Benn

I do not regard concern by trade unionists about their future employment as being messy or meddling. They are neither meddlesome nor interfering. They are the legitimate concern of people who might be affected by technological change. The hon. Member's representations to me could hardly be called blandishments.