§ 35. Sir JOSEPH LAMB
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will consider amending the Companies Act, 1929, to enact that, under Sections 123 and 130 of the Act, an auditors' certificate on the published accounts of a public company shall not be valid unless it certifies that the auditors are satisfied that a copy of the profit-and-loss account has been issued to the members of the company, and that a statement of the remuneration received by the directors has been embodied in the printed balance sheet distributed to members prior to the general meeting of the company?
§ 58. Mr. TURTON
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will arrange that the advisability of requiring a profit-and-loss account to be shown on the published accounts of a public company is investigated when the Companies Act, 1929, is under consideration for amendments and improvements?
§ Mr. W. GRAHAM
These suggestions have been noted for investigation when the desirability of amending legislation is being considered. Meantime, I would point out that Section 123 provides for a copy of the profit-and-loss account being laid before the company in general meeting, and Section 128 provides that the accounts laid before the meeting shall contain particulars of the total amount paid to the directors as remuneration for their services.
§ 36. Sir JOHN FERGUSON
asked the President of the Board of Trade the number of companies from whom his Department has failed to obtain returns under Section 110 of the Companies Act, 1929, as at 9th March, 1931; and will he also 1854 state what steps he proposes to take to enable his Department to prevent the evasion of this section of the Act?
§ 38. Sir BERTRAM FALLE
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the fact that this year again more than 800 public companies had two months after the required date failed to comply with Section 110 of the Companies Act, 1929, he will accept the suggestion, which he refused to accept last year, to invite three Members to investigate the methods and staffing of the Department concerned and ascertain whether it is suitably organised for ensuring proper compliance with Section 110 of the Companies Act, 1929?
§ Mr. GRAHAM
The number of public companies which had failed to file an annual return for the year 1930 at the date named was 641. The number at the present time is 534. The method dealing with defaulting companies was described in my reply to the hon. and gallant Baronet on the 3rd February, and having regard to the rapid diminution which is taking place in the number of defaulters and the fact that the figure is only a third of that last year I see no reason to think that the procedure is ineffective or that such an investigation as he suggests is required.
§ Mr. THORNE
Are any penalties inflicted upon companies for failure to make returns, as is done in the case of trade unions?
§ Mr. GRAHAM
After a certain time there would be a Board of Trade prosecution, and penalties could follow.
59. Sir G. HAMILTON
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will now set up a Departmental Committee to review the Companies Act, 1929, and make recommendations for remedying the defects which have been disclosed in the Act since it came into operation more than a year ago?
§ Mr. GRAHAM
The revision of the law relating to companies was dealt with by Parliament in 1928, after an inquiry by a Departmental Committee, and the alterations then made were incorporated in the present Companies Act, which came into operation on the 1st November, 1929. I think that it is too soon to insti- 1855 tute a fresh inquiry, but, if the hon. Member will let me know what are the defects which he has in mind, they shall be noted for investigation when the desirability of amending legislation is being considered.