§ MR. THOMAS BAYLEY (Derby, Chesterfield)
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury, in view of the strong remarks made by one of Her Majesty's Judges in a recent trial, if the Government will move to appoint a Committee to inquire into the working of the Limited Companies Acts, with a view of giving greater legal protection to shareholders and creditors in Limited Companies?
§ MR. ADDISON (Ashton-under-Lyne)
May I ask whether the attention of the Government has been called to the fact that fraudulent Directors and promoters are not now liable to be adequately punished, and that Directors giving their names to Public Companies for reward, and then scandalously neglecting their duties, are not now liable for anything but civil action; also, whether attention has been called to the Report recently presented to the Board of Trade by the gentleman who has the superintendence of the winding up of Companies, and to the startling disclosures made as to the injury caused to the country, and especially to the trade of Lancashire, by the Rules regulating Limited Liability Companies; and, further, whether the right hon. Gentleman is aware of the strong 925 desire throughout the country, and particularly in Lancashire, in favour of the request put forward by the hon. Member for Derby for the appointment of a Committee to inquire into the grievances which now exist?
§ MR. MUNDELLA
Last week I gave a full answer to the latter question. In reply to the question on the Paper, the remarks made by the learned Judge were apparently directed to the state of both the Civil and Criminal Law. A Committee to inquire into the working of the Companies Acts could hardly deal with the latter branch of the subject; and it is not desirable to institute a general inquiry into the working of the Companies Acts until fuller experience has been gained of the effect of the very drastic provisions contained in the Act passed so recently as 1890.