§ The Minister of Transport (Mr. Ernest Marples)
With permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a short personal statement on a matter arising out of my right hon. Friend's Answer to Question No. 52.
I was at one time a director of a company called Kirk and Kirk. I entirely severed my connection with the company in 1950. Before I became a junior Minister, in November, 1951, I was managing director of Marples, Ridgway and Partners, and I held a controlling interest in that company. As soon as I became a junior Minister I resigned my directorship and ceased to take any active part in the business.
When I became Minister of Transport, last October, I realised that there was a risk of a conflict of interest appearing 381 to arise in consequence of my holding a controlling interest in the company. I immediately took steps to effect a sale of my shares. It has taken some time to arrange this as the company is a private one engaged in long-term contracts in civil engineering, but I hope that it will be completed very soon. Then I shall have no financial interest in the company. But I think that I should tell the House that the prospective purchasers have required me to undertake to buy the shares back from them at the price they are to pay if they ask me to do so after I have ceased to hold office. I myself have no option to buy the shares back.
I have not, of course, had anything whatsoever to do with any tenders put in by the company while I have been a member of the Government.
§ Mr. Mellish
On a point of order. It is only a matter of procedure. This was a personal statement, which we accept in the spirit in which it has been made. I gather that it would be quite wrong at this stage, Mr. Speaker, to add anything to it or say anything about it from my position as a back bencher on this side of the House.
§ Mr. Speaker
Yes. The hon. Member is quite right. It is wholly undebatable, and nothing may be asked about it.