§ 3. Sir ROBERT THOMAS
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that it became necessary for 815 the directors of the Wrexham Gas Company, which is a statutory undertaking, to apply to the Board of Trade for powers to increase the maximum price of gas from 4s. to 5s. per 1,000 cubic feet owing to the increased price of coal, labour, and materials; that an order, dated 29th September, 1919, was granted, but at the same time restricting the dividend to 3¾ per cent. per annum; that the company's accounts for the year ended 31st December, 1919, have been submitted to the Board of Trade for approval, and the directors recommend the payment of 5 per cent. per annum for the first nine months of the year, i.e., to the date of the Board of Trade order, and at the rate of 3¾ per cent. per annum for the last three months of the year; and that a notification has now been received from the Board of Trade stipulating that the dividend for the whole of the year 1919 shall be at the rate of 3¾ per cent. per annum only, notwithstanding the fact that the order came into force as from the 29th September, 1919; and whether, as this action of the Board of Trade will affect the financial position of the company, he will give the case further consideration?
§ Sir R. HORNE
The facts of this case are as stated by my hon. Friend. The matter at issue is one which depends on the legal interpretation of the Statutory Undertakings (Temporary Increase of Charges) Act, 1918, of the Order made by the Board of Trade there under, and of the Company's Special Act. I shall be happy to give further consideration to the case, and I will inform my hon. Friend of the result.
§ Sir R. HORNE
I am afraid the matter is too elaborate to go into in answer to a question, but I may say briefly, that according to the Regulations that deal with such matters as this, we have to take a particular rate of interest over the appropriate period for which the average dividend is paid. What the firm did not do was to inform us of the fact that they were entitled to pay half-yearly dividends. Now that the matter has been brought to my notice, I am prepared to consider it from the point of view of the half-year.