HC Deb 02 August 1976 vol 916 cc1200-1
16. Mr. Atkinson

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he is satisfied that his Department has adequate ways by which it is able to talent-spot, select and appoint top management to those sections of industry which are in receipt of public money, and to which it has the right of appointment.

Mr. Les Huckfield

Yes, Sir. Government appointments are carefully selected according to the experience and ability required and appropriate selection arrangements exist. Our practices are kept under constant review.

Mr. Atkinson

Does my hon. Friend agree that one of the many reasons for the public ownership of industries is to enable those industries to democratise their methods of managerial selection? Is it not a fact that there is a great deal of talented and imaginative leadership in industry which is yet undiscovered by the Government? Will my hon. Friend therefore set up an inquiry into ways and means of identifying the sort of managers who are now necessary to take over the leadership of British industry?

Mr. Huckfield

I have taken careful note of what my hon. Friend said. He will of course already know that the Bullock Committee is presently inquiring into industrial democracy and that we hope to introduce legislation to implement it during the next parliamentary Session. I certainly bear in mind, as does my right hon. Friend, what my hon. Friend has said.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

Do the lists maintained by the hon. Gentleman's Department contain the names of any members of the Tribune Group? Does he intend to appoint any of those to top positions in industry? What previous experience have they had in running manufacturing industry?

Mr. Huckfield

I hope that the hon. Gentleman is not using his own lack of industrial experience as the yardstick. Certainly the industrial and trade union movement experience of my hon. Friends in the Tribune Group, in sum, is considerable.

Mr. Tom King

Since the Prime Minister is present, could he not have answered this Question and perhaps have considered whether it is not high time for a bit more talent-spotting in the Department of Industry when Ministers are appointed? In the presence of the Prime Minister, will the Under-Secretary confirm that it is still the policy of his Department, as enunciated by the Minister of State, that only good Socialists should be appointed to positions of authority in nationalised industries?

Mr. Huckfield

I cannot give the hon. Member that assurance. Nor can I help him, because we certainly do not have him in mind at the moment. If he is expressing doubts about his confidence in some of the present chairmen of nationalised industries, he should not forget that many of them were appointed by his own party.