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The Crown Agents: Fay Committee

Volume 375: debated on Monday 18 October 1976

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My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Fay Report on the Crown Agents has been published and if so what action is being taken on their recommendations.

My Lords, my right honourable friend the Minister for Overseas Development understands that the Committee expect to report in the first part of next year.

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for that interesting Answer, but would she agree with me that quite a long time before the Summer Recess answers were given by the noble Baroness and other Ministers that the report would be published at any moment? Is the noble Baroness aware that it looks as though the report has undoubtedly been specially kept from being published, which I am sure the noble Baroness will agree is unfortunate having regard to the importance of the occasion and to the fact that many people in this House are interested in the future of the Crown Agents?

My Lords, I am quite sure that very few Members of this House assume for one moment that the report is being deliberately withheld, and I can assure the House that there is no question of that. I am also quite sure that nobody has ever promised that the report would be ready "at any moment". I think the House knows that under the Companies Acts inquiries of this kind normally take up to three or even four years. So far the Fay Committee have taken 18 months.

My Lords, some of the Ministers said before the Summer Recess, did they not, that the report could be expected at any time?

My Lords, my recollection is that they said not before the end of this year, so early next year is not too long.