§ Order real for resuming adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed [2nd April] on Consideration of Bill as amended (in the Standing Committee).
§ Which Amendment was, in Clause 28 (Annual Report) in page 28, line 27, after "Corporation," to insert:
§ "(including a balance sheet and a profit and loss account)."—[Mr. Elliot.]
§ Question again proposed, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ 4.13 p.m.
§ The Minister of AGRICULTURE (Mr. Elliot)
This Amendment is designed to meet the position that the Opposition took up during the Committee stage, when they made a demand for further details. The Amendment goes a long way to meet that demand. It is true that it does not cover the depreciation point, but I will undertake, if it meets the Opposition's desire, that that will be dealt with in the rules. I think it will be more suitably dealt with in that way than in the Statute. The matter is somewhat detailed and a certain amount of alteration may be necessary, but in the rules we should give the total expenditure on fixed capital up to the beginning of the year, the expenditure on fixed capital up to the end of the year, the total amount allowed for depreciation up to the beginning of the year, the amount to be allowed for depreciation in the year and a net figure showing the written-down value of the fixed capital. That fully covers the depreciation account and we have covered the profit and loss account and the balance-sheet in the Amendment. The only point left is the trading point. It would not be possible to meet the right hon. Member for Hillsborough (Mr. Alexander) and his friends on that, but the Minister has full power to get such information as he wishes to have. Of course the Minister is responsible to the House. As to the trading account, it is doubtful whether the publication of such an account as is prescribed under the Provident Societies Act at present would serve any useful purpose, and since I have met the desires of the Opposition I hope they will accept the Amendment.
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ Mr. A. V. ALEXANDER
I had intended to move an Amendment to the Minister's Amendment, but after his explanation I do not propose to do so. He has made a considerable advance towards meeting our request in the inclusion of a provision for a profit and loss account, and also by the suggestion that in the rules to be made he will prescribe certain lines along which information must be given as to the depreciation account. I hope we shall have some guidance as to what is going to be the starting point of values upon which depreciation takes place. Are you going to take fixed stock from the date of the incorporation of the new amalgamated concerns or are you going to include in the depreciation account any reference at all to the original cost? That, of course, is a matter for consideration. Having regard to the fact that a large proportion of these fixed assets have been subsidised out of public funds, it will be necessary for the Minister to know the actual position.
As regards the trading account, I would ask the Minister to consider that as he is setting up what is virtually a closed monopoly, because no one believes that any new licences are going to be granted whilst there is an output capacity of 4,000,000 lbs. and a consumption of only 2,200,000 lbs., the public are not protected unless some trading account is furnished for their information through the Ministry, which will prevent a misleading account of the profit and loss position by a manipulation of stock values. If you are going to get a trading account such as is necessary for the purpose of Income Tax there is no further question. I am grateful that we have at least this concession, that we are going to get some measure of information, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will also consider further the question of information regarding stocks being furnished in the trading account.
§ Amendment agreed to.