asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) whether His Majesty's Government will take the necessary steps to subdivide its holding so as to use its maximum voting power at future meetings of the Suez Canal Company in favour of an investigation into the management of the company in order to bring about a reduction in the expenses of management and a reduction of the canal tolls;
(2) whether, seeing that the directors of the Suez Canal Company are paid fees dependent upon the amount of profit made by the canal company, irrespective of the adverse effect high canal dues may have upon industry generally, His Majesty's Government will use the powers conferred upon it by its large holding to urge a reduction in the costs of management, including these directors' fees?
His Majesty's Government have recently received an assurance from the Suez Canal Company that all possible economies consistent with efficiency have been carried out both as regards personnel and as regards works on the canal, while the diminution of traffic owing to the economic crisis and the recent reduction of dues will entail a considerable decrease in the amount of directors' fees. I do not think that any useful purpose would be served at the present time by proposing an investigation into the management of the company.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the canal dues on certain essential ores amount to 30 per cent. of the price of the ores f.o.b. at the British port and that, because of that excessive hardship, British firms have had to close down.