HC Deb 07 June 1976 vol 912 cc910-1
26. Mr. Teddy Taylor

asked the Secretary of State for Trade when the inquiry into the affairs of the Lonrho Company was started; when the report was completed; and when it will be published.

Mr. Dell

The inspectors were appointed on 19th June 1973 and they submitted their report on 1st March 1976. At present the report is being considered and no decision has yet been taken about publication.

Mr. Taylor

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell the House frankly what is going on? Is it true that there has been pressure from other Ministries that the report should not be published? Is it not rather unfair to the Lonrho Company, after all the allegations that have been made against it, that it seems that attempts are being made not to have the report published?

Mr. Dell

What is going on is that I am considering the report and whether it should be published—nothing else.

Mr. Lipton

How much longer will my right hon. Friend consider the report? Is it being held up because a certain Member of another place got a £130,000 tax-free golden handshake?

Mr. Dell

My hon. Friend will see if he examines the record that this is not taking an unusually long time to decide. As he would expect, the report is a detailed examination, and I am considering it.

Mr. Ronald Bell

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is in fact taking a very long time to decide? Is he aware that the general belief is that this is a very interesting report and refers to quite a number of people in various parts of the world, and that we should all like to see it?

Mr. Dell

I note the hon. and learned Gentleman's interest.

Mr. R. C. Mitchell

Did I hear my right hon. Friend correctly? In answer to an earlier supplementary question, did he say that he was considering whether the report should be published? Surely it must be published.

Mr. Dell

No. It is a matter of discretion, and I am considering that question.

Mr. Burden

Will the right hon. Gentleman point out that any so-called golden handshake above £5,000 is taxed at the full rate?

Mr. Dell

That is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Mr. William Hamilton

Will my right hon. Friend give a categorical assurance now that he will publish as much as possible of the report—indeed, all of it if possible but, if not, as much of it as he can—and explain to the House why he is not publishing the rest of the report?

Mr. Dell

I regret that I cannot give my hon. Friend that assurance. We shall have to consider the report and make a decision.