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New Clause 16 — Names and addresses of members of companies: company application

Part of Orders of the Day – in the House of Commons at 3:45 pm on 18th October 2006.

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Photo of Paul Farrelly Paul Farrelly Labour, Newcastle-under-Lyme 3:45 pm, 18th October 2006

I take the hon. Gentleman's point, but the Secretary of State may not be in a position to foresee all sorts of circumstances, just as they may not know all the facts about a particular company behind a particular application. If the facts were known, there would be no impediment, because the company would already have been investigated.

On shareholder protection, one company may wish to take over another company, but if it is unable to access the share register, the conduit for takeovers or for any communications with shareholders would be the company itself. If there are question marks about a company, one would not want it to be the master of the information that goes to its shareholders, and similar arguments also apply to credit protection.

New clause 16 will put the Secretary of State in an impossible position. If an application is made, the likelihood is that the Secretary of State will err on the side of caution—in other words, they will be damned if they do and damned if they do not. If a company were to tell them that there was serious risk of violence and they said, "I do not believe it", if the violence were to occur, then the Secretary of State would be damned. Equally, if they were to grant an order and the company turned out to be fraudulent, they would be damned again.