Nominee Shareholdings.

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Commerce. – in the House of Commons on 23rd June 1942.

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Photo of Sir Jocelyn Lucas Sir Jocelyn Lucas , Portsmouth South

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he can yet make an announcement on the subject of nominee shareholders in newspaper, armament and similar public companies?

Photo of Mr Hugh Dalton Mr Hugh Dalton , Bishop Auckland

I have further considered the question of nominee shareholders in consultation with my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. As indicated in my reply of 28th April to my hon. and gallant Friend, there already exist full powers under the Defence Regulations to compel disclosure to certain Departments of the beneficial ownership of shares held by nominees, where it is considered necessary or expedient to obtain the information in the interests of the public safety, the defence of the realm or the efficient prosecution of the war. It is also within the discretion of the Ministers concerned to publish the information thus obtained. To make any more general provision, such as the prohibition of nominee share- holdings, would require amendment of the Companies Act, for which Parliamentary time is not available in present circumstances.

Photo of Sir Jocelyn Lucas Sir Jocelyn Lucas , Portsmouth South

Is the Minister aware of the widespread public concern at the evasion of the company law by this method?

Photo of Mr Hugh Dalton Mr Hugh Dalton , Bishop Auckland

It is a very complicated matter, and I have endeavoured to give it attention in consultation with the Home Secretary. If my hon. and gallant Friend has any particular suggestions on the matter, I shall be glad to have them.

Photo of Mr Frederick Bellenger Mr Frederick Bellenger , Bassetlaw

Will my right hon. Friend look at his own files, specially those relating to Debates that have taken place in this House, and he will find plenty of evidence that will be of considerable assistance to him?

Photo of Mr Hugh Dalton Mr Hugh Dalton , Bishop Auckland

We shall be glad to have assistance from anybody.