HC Deb 23 April 1936 vol 311 cc306-7
45. Mr. McGOVERN

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that circular letters are being sent out by various so-called stock and share brokers in the City of London which purport to advise clients as to the shares which will profit most from Britain's rearmament and if war takes place; and what steps he proposes to put an end to this practice and control all armament profits?

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Baldwin)

I am aware that circulars of this type are being issued, but as stated on previous occasions, His Majesty's Government cannot accept any responsibility for the fluctuations of the Stock Exchange prices of shares. I may, however, renew the warning that people who are attracted by this type of speculation should remember that it is they themselves who have to bear the risk. As regards the steps taken to prevent excessive profits on armament contracts, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave on 24th February to the hon. Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Leach).


Is the Prime Minister aware that in these circulars they very definitely state that they are able to supply the industries that will benefit most, directly and indirectly, and does he not think it is time that the Government as a whole made up their mind to deal with this thing very sharply and definitely?


I am afraid I have not seen any of these circulars myself, but no Government can accept responsibility for the kind of circulars that go out from these particular businesses, or racing touts or similar sources.


Have not the Government very definitely taken steps to deal with circulars concerned with certain types of petty gambling? The Post Office has interfered with the personal post of individuals engaging in small, petty, inoffensive gambling transactions. Is he going to tell us that the Government are quite impotent to deal with people who are gambling in matters for which this House has to provide the money?


Would not the best course be to impose a heavy Excess Profits Duty on armament companies?


Would not the best course be to nationalise the industry?


Would the right hon. Gentleman accept from me a circular very definitely on the lines I have stated?


Yes, I should be very interested to see it. It is quite new ground to me.