§ Mr. T. KENNEDY (by Private Notice)
asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether the Shropshire, Worcestershire and Staffordshire Electric Power Company have been guaranteed a loan under the Trade Facilities Acts; if so, the amount guaranteed; whether he is aware of the proposed sale of this undertaking to an American syndicate; and whether in guaranteeing the loan any condition was laid down for the maintenance of British control over this company?
Guarantees under the Trade Facilities Acts amounting to £770,000 have been given in respect of loans raised by the Shropshire, Worcestershire and Staffordshire Electric Power Company. I have seen references in the Press to the effect that an offer has been made, apparently by foreign interests, to purchase the ordinary share capital of the company. The answer to the last part of the question is in the negative.
§ Mr. KENNEDY
Will the Government now make any representations to this company, in order to find out what has happened?
I do not think that that is necessary. The control of a company's management, or the nationality of its shareholders, was not within the purpose of the Trade Facilities Acts. The object of those Acts was to facilitate 2320 the raising of capital to be used for purchasing plant and machinery in Great Britain, with a view to employment being given in the production of such plant and machinery.
§ Mr. KENNEDY
Are we to gather from the hon. Gentleman's answer that the Treasury draw no distinction at all between guarantees of loans under the Trade Facilities Acts to a foreign company and loans guaranteed to a British company?
Guarantees could be given, and were given under those Acts, to foreign Governments and foreign companies, provided that those foreign Governments or foreign companies spent the guaranteed loans on British goods.
§ Mr. SHINWELL
Is it not the custom, when such guarantees are provided, for the Government to ascertain whether there is to be a measure of British control over the operations concerned, and should not the Government make inquiries in this particular instance?
No, Sir; the control of a company's management, or of the nationality of its shareholders, was not within the purpose of the Trade Facilities Acts.
§ Sir H. BRITTAIN
Is not the outstanding result that there will be a large increase of employment of British labour?