HC Deb 19 November 1970 vol 806 cc1428-9
Q5. Mr. Pavitt

asked the Prime Minister what are the current Ministerial instructions regarding disposal of directorships on assuming office.

The Prime Minister

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to a similar Question by the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins) on 29th October.—[Vol. 805, c. 198.]

Mr. Pavitt

Does the Prime Minister keep a record of those of his colleagues who have given up lucrative City positions? If he does, will he publish the list in the OFFICIAL REPORT so that hon. Members may know which other Members, apart from the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, have given their expertise to help the Government?

The Prime Minister

I am adhering to the practice on Ministerial interests which has been observed by my predecessors, including the right hon. Gentleman who is now the Leader of the Opposition. It has never been customary to publish lists of changes of this kind on Members taking up office in the Government. In any case, before they were in the Government details of their directorships were published in the normal way and available in books of reference.

Mr. Harold Walker

Will the Prime Minister assure the House that no members of his Cabinet has a direct and pecuniary interest in South Africa?

The Prime Minister

Ministers are required to relinquish directorships, whether of public or private companies. If they have shareholdings which at any time are likely to come into conflict with their duties, they are asked to relinquish them as well. If at any time they find that a matter arises in an industrial or economic sphere which will cause a conflict with their existing holdings, they must notify their colleagues and desist from taking part in a discussion on that subject. I do not think that any Prime Minister has ever asked his colleagues to publish a list of all their holdings. I do not propose to do so.

Sir J. Langford-Holt

Is it not a fact that Ministers are required to give up not just directorships but gainful employment in outside companies?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. That is perfectly true, but I was asked a question particularly about directorships.

Mr. William Hamilton

Have all directorships now been got rid of by members of the Government, or in view of the magnitude of the task is it a phased operation?

The Prime Minister

The members of this Administration have adhered to the rules, like the members of previous Administrations.