HC Deb 05 April 1971 vol 815 cc7-8
9. Mr. Skinner

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he has found a Chairman of the National Coal Board to replace Lord Robens on 1st July, 1971, at a new salary of £20,000 per annum.

Mr. John Davies

I shall make an announcement as soon as possible.

Mr. Skinner

Is the Minister aware that the new Chairman of the National Coal Board—whoever he is—will receive a salary increase of £2,500 on 1st July, accompanied by a similar sum as a result of recent tax changes that have been announced? Beset by all these personal problems, will he also have to contend with the job of producing a policy of subsidising the private sector, like the Steel Corporation but unlike the oil companies, which seemingly can put up their prices whenever they choose?

Mr. Davies

If the hon. Member wishes to put down a Question on the price of coal I shall be willing to answer it, but that is not the subject of the Question. I draw the hon. Member's attention to the fact that Lord Robens, the present Chairman, agreed to forgo his increase in salary until 1st July.

Sir G. Nabarro

While my right hon. Friend's thoughts are maturing on this critically important appointment, will he bear in mind that the person appointed should be a man of long industrial experience and knowledge, and of the highest calibre, and that my right hon. Friend would be well advised to refrain from appointing an old Etonian or an ex-merchant banker?

Mr. Davies

I shall bear carefully in mind the advice given to me by my hon. Friend.

Mr. Bidwell

Will it not lead to discontent on the part of the potential Chairman of the National Coal Board to realise that the improvement under the Budget will be only just over £2,000 a year, compared with Sir David Barran, of Shell, who will receive an 80 per cent. increase in his total take-home pay, adding up to about an extra £10,000 a year? Will not that lead to discontent among the chairmen of the nationalised boards?

Mr. Davies

I am sure that the new Chairman of the National Coal Board, when his name is announced, will prove to be acceptable to the House. I feel equally certain that he will regard his duty in this rôle as being paramount in the national interest.