HC Deb 16 November 1967 vol 754 cc630-2
Q5. Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

asked the Prime Minister whether the public speech of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in London on Tuesday, 31st October, on the salaries of management in private industry represents the policy of Her Majesty's Government.

The Prime Minister

My right hon. Friend's speech on that occasion related to questions of the United Nations, the Alliance and other aspects of foreign affairs and, of course, fully represented the views of Her Majesty's Government. The references to the salaries of certain industrialists, which were separate from his main theme, were personal observations which did not purport to represent Government policy.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

Would not the Prime Minister agree that it was tactless for the Minister of Technology to attack American firms for trying to attract British scientists and executives by offering them at least an adequate salary, when the Foreign Secretary is allowed to say that senior executives are paid a jolly sight too much, without anyone trying to correct the impression given?

The Prime Minister

I thought that my right hon. Friend's démarche in relation to Westinghouse and in relation to Dounreay was one of the finest things I have seen for a very long time. I am sorry if the hon. Member supports Westinghouse against—[Interruption.]—in what can only mean that Westinghouse by paying slightly—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."]—I am doing so. The hon. Member referred to Westinghouse and he is going to get his answer. If it is Westinghouse policy by slightly higher salaries to buy British scientists whose training has been very expensive and has been borne by this country and who of course will carry a great deal of the secrets by which the British publicly-owned Atomic Energy Authority are far ahead of some of these American firms—

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Would not the Prime Minister agree that if the Government paid more attention to what was done in private industry the Government would have some chance of getting a competent Chairman of British Railways?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Member will be aware that only since the passing of the Companies Act has the necessary information on which my right hon. Friend made his animadversions become available.

Sir A. V. Harvey

Is the Prime Minister aware that if he had expressed these sentiments two years ago when scientists left the British aircraft industry where they had been working on TSR2 it would have been helpful to Britain?

The Prime Minister

Yes, at a cost of several hundred million pounds. I remember that many of those, for example, in Preston got redundancy benefits and were back at work in the same firm about six months later. The hon. Member will know that the aircraft industry is now more streamlined and more prosperous and not so dependent on wasteful Government expenditure.