Holding Companies.

Oral Answers to Questions — Coal Industry. – in the House of Commons on 15th February 1938.

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Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Walter Smiles Lieut-Colonel Sir Walter Smiles , Blackburn

asked the Secretary for Mines whether he is aware that there are several holding companies registered in the United Kingdom which hold the majority of the shares in both colliery and coal distributing companies, and that it is the practice for these colliery companies generally to make losses and the distributing companies very handsome profits; and whether he will make inquiries into the extent of this practice with a view to putting a stop to it?

Photo of Captain Harry Crookshank Captain Harry Crookshank , Gainsborough

I am not aware of the existence of holding companies of the nature described, and with regard to the second and third parts of the question I would point out that not only are the sales by all colliery companies controlled under the provisions of the selling schemes, but also that it is competent, under the wages ascertatainment machinery, for accountants acting on behalf of the workmen to ensure that sales to ancillary concerns, including distributing organisations, are included in the colliery books at a fair market price.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Walter Smiles Lieut-Colonel Sir Walter Smiles , Blackburn

Has the Minister made inquiries as to the state of affairs in South Wales?

Photo of Mr Herbert Williams Mr Herbert Williams , Croydon South

Will the commitees of investigation have the same freedom as the joint accountants?

Photo of Sir Louis Smith Sir Louis Smith , Sheffield, Hallam

Is the Minister aware that there is growing feeling in the country and great doubt about these matters, and that investigation would clear them up?

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Seaham

Will the Minister consider the special position of subsidiary concerns established by colliery undertakings charging excessively high prices for coal, items of cost not entering into the wages ascertainment?

Photo of Captain Harry Crookshank Captain Harry Crookshank , Gainsborough

That is a different question.