§ 22. Mr. Sorensen
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies under what circumstances governors have in recent years used their discretion to allow Ministers in Colonial Territories to continue their business directorships; in what Colonial Territories at present Ministers or chairmen of public boards are also continuing as business directors; if he is aware that in the Bahamas and elsewhere contracts have been and are being given to business firms whose directors are Ministers; and what steps he proposes to take in this matter.
§ Mr. Hopkinson
There are no Ministers under the Bahamas Constitution. More generally, there is no obligation on governors to report exemptions to my right hon. Friend and the information is not therefore available here. I am consulting the governors of the territories which have a Ministerial system and will communicate with the hon. Member as soon as I have received their replies.
§ Mr. Sorensen
Apart from pointing out that the Minister has not answered the last part of my Question, may I ask him whether he does not consider that it is reprehensible that the Ministers should 1171 continue to hold their directorates? Is it not desirable that the Secretary of State should have the information which I seek in the Question?
§ Mr. Hopkinson
It has been the practice to draw the attention of unofficial Ministers in the Colonial Territories to the rules and customs which govern Ministerial conduct in the United Kingdom. They are expected to divest themselves, for the period of their office, of business interests which might conflict with their public responsibilities but, as I told the hon. Member in reply to an earlier Question, there are provisions for exemption. I am asking the governors of the territories concerned to let me have the information for which he now asks. I would point this out: in the case of territories such as the Bahamas, where there is no Ministerial system, there has never been any rule that members of the Executive Council should not hold business appointments, and if one were to try to insist on any such rule we should find, particularly in the smaller Colonies, that we were unable to get men of the right calibre to join the Executive Council.