asked the Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development (1) what reply he has given to representations from the secretary of the Huddersfield Chamber of Commerce with regard to the approval by the Registrar of Companies of the use of the name Huddersfield in the title of a company whose registered office is not in Huddersfield and which has no existing connection with Huddersfield;
(2) what is the practice of the Registrar of Companies when an application for registration is made by a company wishing to use in its title the name of a town or locality in which its registered office is not situated and with which it is not in any way associated.
Every proposal for a company name is examined to see that the name is not too like that of a company already registered. Except in a limited number of special cases, inquiries are not made into the justification for using the name of a particular town or locality.
As the reply sent to the Huddersfield Chamber of Commerce was rather long I will send a copy to the hon. Member.
Is the Minister aware that the Registrar of Companies authorised the use of the name "Fine Fabrics (Huddersfield) Limited" by a company in no way associated with Huddersfield, and is this not liable to be misleading? If there was an oversight on the part of the office of the Registrar, what remedy is available to firms in Huddersfield to object? On the general principle, is the hon. Gentleman aware that the town of Huddersfield is renowned throughout the world for the production of fine worsted fabrics? Surely the use of the words "fine fabrics" together with the word "Huddersfield" may be a bit misleading, particularly if the firm in question operates in Manchester and has no association at all with Huddersfield.
I can assure the hon Gentleman that the reputation of Hud dersfield is very well understood in the Board of Trade and, indeed, in the country as a whole. As far as this particular case is concerned, I am advised that even if inquiries had been made—and my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary has apologised in respect of this—no difference would have ensued because it is the intention of the company to operate in Huddersfield. As far as the hon. Gentleman's third supplementary question is concerned, the point is that there is an opportunity for these matters to be looked into within a limited period.
What check has the Minister of State made to justify the assertion that the company is going to operate in Huddersfield? Is the hon. Gentleman further aware that when this question was first raised he admitted that a mistake had been made by the Registrar? What steps has he taken to prevent similar mistakes in the future?
In answer to the hon. Gentleman's first supplementary question, there has been an expression of intention on the part of the company. In regard to the second, the Registrar receives something like 2,000 inquiries each week. There is an obvious difficulty in checking half a million names on the register, but I should be surprised if there is a recurrence of this sort.