it very shortly, if I sense the desire of the House to have them dealt with shortly, the Government Amendment empowers the Minister to make Regulations so that not merely will we be able to do what the hon. Gentleman wanted us to do, that is to follow the obligations imposed by the Companies Bill in its present form—of course it may alter—but also to follow it in the form in which it finally leaves Parliament, and to follow any further obligations put upon companies by any subsequent company legislation, without having to alter the Act.
The hon. Gentleman may say that this is not a compulsion upon the Minister but merely a power to make Regulations, and I want to give a firm assurance on behalf of the Minister that he intends to use his powers to provide that the Corporation shall be subject to the same obligations as companies under the company legislation. I have explained the principle, and I could go on to explain the detail if the House requires. The same arguments apply to all the Amendments and I hope that they will be acceptable to the House.
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman and, since he did not give a detailed explanation, I will not delay the House by making any detailed comments. My worry is that certain information is required from companies which are not themselves subsidiaries where the Corporation holds shares but does not hold a controlling interest in them. We do not know the definition of "the holding of shares". It might be possible that information would be required not from companies in which the Corporation holds a minority of shares but from companies in which the Corporation holds a minority of shares but in which they are held as to a minority by the Corporation. In other words—without making this too complicated—this process could go in indefinitely. Until this matter is defined by the Minister at a later date, we cannot be sure on this subject of shares being held by the Corporation.
|' (2) Section 39 of the 1949 Act shall be amended as follows:—|
|5||(a) in subsection (1) after the word "section" there shall be inserted the words "being machinery for operation at national level or works level, or a level falling between those levels and appearing to the Corporation to be appropriate", after the words "establishment and maintenance" there shall be inserted the words" for operation at any such level as aforesaid", and for paragraph (b) there shall be substituted the following paragraph—|
|10||'(b) the promotion and encouragement of measures affecting efficiency, in any respect, in the carrying on by the Corporation and by publicly-owned companies of their activities, and the promotion and encouragement of measures affecting the safety, health and welfare of persons employed by the Corporation and by publicly-owned companies;'|
|(b) in subsection (2), for the words "the Minister of Labour and National Service", there shall be substituted the words "the Minister of Labour"; and|
|15||(c) after subsection (2) there shall be inserted the following subsection—|
|20||'(2A) Where it falls to the Corporation or a publicly-owned company to participate in the operation of machinery established under this section, and the operation involves discussion of a subject by other persons participating therein, the Corporation or, as the case may be, the publicly-owned company shall make available to those persons, at a reasonable time before the discussion is to take place, such information in their possession relating to the subject as, after consultation with those persons, appears to the Corporation or, as the case may be, publicly-owned company to be necessary to enable those persons to participate effectively in the discussion'.|
No. 87, in line 24, at end insert:
'In this subsection any reference to the report of the directors of a company is a reference to the report of the directors of the company which, by section 157 of the Companies Act 1948, is required to be attached to every balance-sheet of the company laid before it in general meeting'.
No. 91, in line 31, at end insert:
(6) The Corporation shall keep at their principal office copies, which shall be available for inspection during business hours, of any statement of information furnished by the Corporation in compliance with a requirement imposed by virtue of subsection (1A) above, and shall furnish a copy of the statement to any person on demand and on payment of such reasonable charge as the Corporation may require.—[Mr. Marsh.]