§ Mr. W. GRAHAM
This company is not registered under the Companies Acts but, in accordance with the provisions of its charters, it lodges annually with the Board of Trade particulars in the same form as those required from registered companies, including a copy of the balance sheet. The balance sheets for the years 1926 to 1929 were accompanied by auditor's reports in the customary form to the effect that, subject to the observations in the report, the balance sheet was in the auditors' opinion properly drawn up so as to exhibit a true 1936 and correct view of the state of the company's affairs as shown by the books of the company.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
No. This is not within the Companies Acts and I have no statutory powers. The remedy really lies with the shareholders, in view of the auditors' report.
§ 54. Sir N. GRATTAN-DOYLE
asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether the accounts and balance sheets of the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company and/or any of its associated concerns were lodged with the Trade Facilities Committee when applications for guarantees under the Trade Facilities Act were granted in 1923 and 1926 to any of such companies upon loans amounting to £5,400,000; and whether such accounts and balance sheets were certified as correct by auditors?
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence)
I am informed that it was the practice of the Trade Facilities Committee to require to be furnished with the audited balance sheets and profit and loss accounts of companies applying for assistance under the Trade Facilities Acts; and this practice was followed on applications by the subsidiary and associated companies of the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company. No direct loan was ever made under the Trade Facilities Acts to the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company; but in respect of loans of £1,135,886 made early in 1923 under the Trade Facilities Acts to the Royal Mail Steam Packet Meat Transports, Limited—a separate company, whose share capital is owned entirely by the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company—specific mortgages were taken on ships owned by the borrowing company and the specific security for the loan was supplemented by a guarantee as to principal and interest given by the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company. The balance sheets and profit and loss accounts of the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company issued to the shareholders and reported on by the company's auditors were produced to the Committee to the 31st 1937 December, 1921, as well as an approximate balance sheet and profit and loss account to the 31st December, 1922, prepared by the company's officials. This is the only occasion when the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company assumed any obligation in connection with Trade Facilities Loans.
§ Mr. LAMBERT
When these Trade Facilities advances are made to companies, do the Treasury keep track of the balance-sheets, and ascertain if those balance-sheets are properly prepared and presented?
§ Mr. PETHICK-LAWRENCE
The right hon. Gentleman must realise that the Trade Facilities arrangements have ceased—that no fresh arrangements are being made—but, of course, the Treasury keep carefully in touch with the situation as regards all those companies, in connection with which guarantees have been made in the past.
§ Mr. SMITHERS
Can the hon. Gentleman say what has been the loss to the country in respect of this advance?