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National Enterprise Board

Volume 885: debated on Monday 3 February 1975

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10.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry when he expects to be in a position to make appointments to the National Enterprise Board.

The board will be formed when the Industry Bill receives the Royal Assent. Appointments to it will be announced shortly afterwards.

When the appointments are made and the organising committee is set up, will it be responsible to the Cabinet Office or to the Secretary of State for Industry? If the future board is responsible to the Secretary of State, how is it possible for the chairman, Sir Don Ryder, to be responsible to the prime Minister and the committee or the board responsible to the Secretary of State? It does not make sense.

The Industry Bill is sponsored by the Department of Industry, and therefore the chairman of the organising committee will be responsible to the Secretary of State for Industry. Sir Don Ryder is, of course, the industrial adviser to the Government. In any case, he has not yet been appointed as the chairman of the organising committee.

When my hon. Friend makes appointments to the National Enterprise Board, will he ensure that they are of people who have sympathy for public ownership and not simply members of the great and the good from the City establishment?

The Government would be very wrong not to make certain that people who were placed on the board were in favour of what the board intended to do. Of course the Government will make certain that the right type of people with the appropriate experience, from industry, the unions and the academic world, are appointed to the board.

Will the Minister clarify one point? As I understand it, Sir Don Ryder is at the moment chief industrial adviser to the Government in the Cabinet Office and is therefore answerable to the Government as a whole. After the Second Reading of the Industry Bill, if it passes through the House, do I understand the Minister to say that Sir Don Ryder then, as chairman-designate of the National Enterprise Board, will become answerable to the Secretary of State for Industry?

Once the Bill has had its Second Reading, the organising committee will be established and the chairman-designate will take his position. He will then be responsible to the Secretary of State for Industry. The hon. Gentleman must know that as the Bill is supported and backed by the entire Government—if he does not believe me he should read the names of its sponsors—it means that whoever is responsible is responsible to the whole Government.