§ 8. Colonel WOODCOCK
asked the Home Secretary if he has received intimation that certain share-pushers are endeavouring to avoid the penalties of the new Companies Act, which forbids house-to-house canvassing, by making extensive use of the telephone system; and if he proposes to take any steps to counteract this?
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Sir Philip Cunliffe-Lister)
I have been asked to reply. I have seen statements in the Press from which it appears that share-hawkers are sending letters to persons whose names appear in the files of companies, asking them to supply their telephone numbers for the purpose of receiving information by telephone with regard to investments. If persons assist these share-hawkers by answering the letters and communicating their telephone numbers, it is difficult to afford them any more effective protection than is now being given by the warnings published in the Press. But I should like to say that I think the Press have performed a public service by giving these warnings to inexperienced investors; and I am glad to take this opportunity of expressing my entire agreement with the warnings which have been given.
§ Colonel WOODCOCK
May I ask whether any steps can be taken to stop persons who are endeavouring to circumvent the law and the Companies Act, and, further, whether in the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman it is not the same thing to canvass by telephone, and within the meaning of the Act, as it is to canvass from house to house?
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
I am advised that an offence would not be committed if a person rings up on the telephone, gives his name and address and telephone number, and says, "I should be glad if you will communicate with me about my investments." That is not an offence under the Act, and it is impossible, consistently with allowing ordinary business to go on, to protect everybody, however unwise, against the results of their own folly. What we can do, and what I am glad the Press is doing, is to warn investors, particularly inexperienced investors, that when they get communications from unauthorised 1692 on unprincipled persons, it will be much better to pay no attention whatever to them.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
Will the right hon. Gentleman advise the hon. and gallant Member that this is a form of private enterprise which the hon. and gallant Member usually supports?