HC Deb 23 August 1894 vol 29 cc380-2

I beg to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his attention has been called to statements repeatedly published, that the Official Receiver of the Liberator Building Society has borrowed large sums of money at the rate of 6 per cent. and 10 per cent. bonus from the Debenture Corporation to complete the various buildings which were commenced by the Liberator and other Societies which formed the Balfour group; if he can state whether builders were publicly invited to tender for the completion of the works, or whether the works are being practically executed by men who were on the staff of the convict Hobbs; and, if so, who is supervising and controlling them; whether the Official Receiver made any effort to borrow money at a less rate of interest from the Public Works Loan Commissioners or any other source; and whether, considering that the fearful ruin which has resulted from the failure of the Liberator has made it a national disaster, he will consent to the appointment of a Select Committee at the opening of next Session for the purpose of inquiring into the past connection of the Debenture Corporation and the Balfour Group of Companies; and, further, from what source funds have been supplied to Jabez Spencer Balfour for the last two years by means of which he has up till now been able to evade justice?


I will answer this question. It is true that the Official Receiver of the Liberator Building Society and other Companies of the so-called Balfour Group has, with the approval of the Committee of Inspection and the sanction of the Court, borrowed large sums of money from the Debenture Corporation at the rate of 6 per cent. per annum. The further bonus has relation not to the amount borrowed, but to the amount ultimately distributed. Progress Reports containing particulars of these transactions have been sent to the creditors and contributories concerned. The Official Receiver reports that work undertaken since the commencement of the liquidation has been tendered for by selected firms, and the lowest tenders have been accepted. Certain work which was already in progress before the liquidation has been completed by the staff of J. W. Hobbs & Co. under the direction of the Official Receiver and the Special Manager. Applications for advances were unsuccessfully made to several financial and other institutions, but the Official Receiver and Committees were of opinion that the speculative nature of the undertakings in hand and their unfinished character would not justify an application to the Public Works Loan Commissioners. The matters in question do not seem to be such has could properly be referred to a Select Committee, or that any useful purpose would be served by doing so. I have no knowledge of the matter ad- verted to in the last three lines of the question.

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