HC Deb 27 May 1970 vol 801 cc2021-4

1.15 a.m.

Captain W. Elliot

I beg to move Amendment No. 2, in page 3, line 13, at end insert: ' but no more than one member from any one organisation shall be appointed to the Board '.

The Deputy Chairman

With this Amendment we might conveniently dis- cuss Amendment No. 3, in page 3, line 13, at end insert: ' and at least one of the members shall be a person engaged in the organisation of workers in industry '.

Captain W. Elliot

As I said in moving Amendment No. 1, the Veale Committee's recommendations stated that the Radiological Protection Service should be independent of the Authority, since it may be called upon to advise in matters in which the Authority are concerned. Information was given to me and, I believe, to other hon. Members which suggested that the Atomic Energy Authority was to be strongly represented on the National Radiological Protection Board. If that were to be the case, the independence of the board might well be prejudiced, and that is why I have tabled the Amendment.

Mr. Neave

I should like to draw attention to Amendment No. 3. The board is to consist of 10 members, and there is to be an advisory committee, but there is no provision for anyone with management experience or the organisation of workers to be on the board. In the early part of 1969, as a result of complaints from the Medical Research Council unions at Harwell, I went to see the Minister about this consultative machinery, which was rather unsatisfactory, and there has been a reference to the Commission on Industrial Relations.

In the circumstances, I think that it is a matter of some concern that no member of the board is specified as being a person engaged in the organisation of workers in industry. I support the Amendment, and I hope the Minister will tell us that he will put it to those who will be on this board that there should always be on the board someone with that type of experience.

Dr. John Dunwoody

To take the first Amendment, I must deny the suggestion which has been made from time to time that any one body or another will dominate the new board. I do not envisage that that will happen. It might help hon. Members if I say that the present intention is to appoint two members recommended by the Atomic Energy Authority, and two members recommended by the Medical Research Council respectively. The substantial interest which these two bodies have in the board's operation is felt to merit and justify the appointment of two members from each.

Between them those two bodies will be meeting half the cost of the new board, and the total membership envisaged is a chairman plus seven to nine members. The A.E.A. and the M.R.C. in particular are able to put forward persons with suitable experience of the work to be undertaken by the board, and it is particularly important in the early days that there should be a degree of expertise and experience available to the board.

On the second Amendment, the present wording of the Clause would not rule out board membership of a person actively involved in trade union organisation. I think that this is the matter about which the hon. Member for Abingdon (Mr. Neave) is concerned. The fact is that such a person is specifically mentioned in Clause 4(3) as being suitable for inclusion on the advisory committee, a larger body, but this does not imply anything to the contrary with regard to the board itself.

The qualities required in board members will be largely scientific and managerial, but I think that all possible candidates should be considered on their merits, and I should not be prepared to exclude any particular group. It is perhaps unusual for a trade unionist as such to be appointed to a small management board, but it could well be that there will be people with the kind of experience required for membership of the board who are active in the trade union movement, rather than being necessarily representative.

The health Ministers have the power to give directions to the board if it is felt that it is not having sufficient regard to problems relating to the protection of workers in industry from radiation hazards, and I hope that with those assurances hon. Gentlemen opposite will feel able not to press the Amendments.

Amendment negatived.

Question proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.

Mr. Neave

I should like to know where the headquarters of the board will be and whether the chairman has already been designated. We have heard many rumours about this, and it is said that there is a shadow board in existence. What is it doing at the moment, if it exists?

Dr. Dunwoody

As I understand it, the site of the headquarters has not been decided. At this late stage the House has not even passed this legislation, and any discussion about the chairman or the membership would be premature.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 2 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 3 to 6 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

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