§ Mr. BOTTOMLEY
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he was aware that under Section 137, Sub-section (2) of the Companies (Consolidation) Act, 1908, the official receiver had an independent right to present a petition for the compulsory winding-up of a company which was in course of voluntary liquidation; and whether he would consider the question of instructing that official to exercise such power in connection with the Law Guarantee Trust and Accident Society now in course of voluntary liquidation?
§ Mr. CARLILE
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in the case of the Law Guarantee Trust and Accident Society, Limited, which has recently gone into liquidation, he will institute an official inquiry into its past management with a view to ascertaining whether the shareholders have some claim against those responsible for the present position of the society?
I have looked carefully into the question. The official receiver has, under Section 137, Sub-section (2), of the Companies (Consolidation) Act, 1908, an independent right to present a petition for the compulsory winding-up of a company which is in course of voluntary liquidation, but he can only do so if he is in a position to prove that the voluntary winding-up cannot be continued with due regard to the interests of the creditors or shareholders, as the court of jurisdiction only make a winding-up order on such proof. A petition for compulsory winding-up was presented to the court of creditors. This petition was opposed by the shareholders and refused by the court. I have no new facts before me which were not before the court at the time. If, however, either hon. Member has before him evidence which he thinks would give the court jurisdiction to make a winding-up order on the petition of the official re- 936 ceiver, and will lay the evidence before me, I will give it my most careful consideration.
§ Mr. BOTTOMLEY
Would the right hon. Gentleman give instructions to the official receivers concerned in the affairs of this company not to be influenced by the fact that its administration and proprietorship were largely in the hands of eminent members of the legal profession, and, in the interests of public justice, to be just as zealous as though it were under the control of, say, a Member of this House who was not very loyal to his party?
I can assure the hon. Member that men of this sort are not biassed in any possible way by the position or politics or any other question in regard to those interested in the matter. With regard to this particular matter the Department have looked into it very carefully to see what their powers are. Of course in this, as in other matters, we do not desire that anyone should be shielded in any sense of the term. If the hon. Member has any evidence to lay before me I shall be only too glad to consider it.