§ 24. Mr. G. Cooper
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation if, in view of the investigation made by him into alleged dismissals from the British Overseas Airways Corporation, he has any information to give.
§ Mr. Beswick
British Overseas Airways Corporation have issued a statement which shows that the allegations of my hon. Friend that the two employees, to whom he refers, had been dismissed because they had communicated with a Member of Parliament, are without foundation. With your permission, Mr. Speaker, I will circulate this statement in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
I must also point out that, contrary to the statement made by my hon. Friend, the comprehensive review by the Ministry of Civil Aviation of the organisation and activities of International Aeradio Limited did not "admit" nor "prove" the complaints lodged by him from August, 1947. I also disclaim the statement of my hon. Friend that he had been informed that there was "no hope of justice being done" in this case. What, in fact, my predecessor stated in November, 1949, and I confirmed in June, 1950, was that if these employees wished to appeal against their discharge they should do so through the proper Appeals Machinery provided by the Corporation.
§ Mr. Cooper
Will my hon. Friend make his statement quite clear? Does he mean to say that there was no evidence to suggest that International Aeradio, Limited, was in some measure inefficient? If he had obtained some information and evidence from the two ex-employees at the same time as he obtained the information from the officials of the Corporation and his Department, does he not think that his observations would have been a little different?
§ Mr. Beswick
A very careful investigation was made at the time, which was, I believe, at the end of 1948 and in 1949, and the report said that the charges made by my hon. Friend were not justified.
§ Mr. Cooper
Will my hon. Friend use his influence with the Government to have set up a Select Committee to inquire into the matter, so that it can be studied by an independent body?
§ Mr. Beswick
That is for the House to decide, I should have thought. With respect to my hon. Friend, whose sincerity of purpose I do not dispute, I should have thought that it was as wrong to have an inquiry into every allegation he brings forward as it would be for the Government to resign every time they were requested to do so by the hon. Member for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers).
Following is the statement:B.O.A.C. state that the two employees mentioned by Mr. Cooper, M.P., in his statement in the House of Commons on 26th April were not at any time associated with International Aeradio. The senior employee was already in charge of the B.O.A.C. signals organisation at the time of the formation of I.A.L. and continued in that capacity until he was declared redundant at the end of 1949, when his post was abolished as part of the general reorganisation of the Corporation which had been in progress since the early part of that year.The junior employee entered the service of the Corporation as a signals officer on 25th February, 1946, and was discharged on redundancy on 28th February, 1950. Although according to the records of the Corporation, he was found fit for world-wide service on entering their employment, he does not appear to have applied to join International Aeradio in a capacity for which he was suitable during the period of his service with B.O.A.C. He did apply in July, 1948, for the post of Company secretary, for which he was not regarded as possessing the necessary qualifications.Like the senior employee, his discharge on redundancy followed the general reorganisation of B.O.A.C. The decision to terminate the services of 11 officers, including the junior employee in question, was agreed with representatives of the Radio Officers' Union at a meeting on 9th January, 1950. Among these 11 officers were employees with as much as eight to 13 years' service with the Corporation compared with the four years' service of the employee in question. The discharge of these two officers on redundancy was a natural corollary of the reorganisation of B.O.A.C. in the course of which the post held by the senior employee was abolished. The redundancies were carried out with due regard to the procedure agreed under the National Joint Council for Civil Air Transport.1939Sir Victor Tait, whose name has been joined with this charge by Mr. Cooper, and other officials of B.O.A.C., have learnt for the first time that either of these employees has been in touch with Mr. Cooper. There is, therefore, no truth in the suggestion that the termination of the services of these two employees is in any way connected with their conveying information to a Member of Parliament.