HC Deb 15 February 1938 vol 331 cc1707-8
66. Sir Walter Smiles

asked the Secretary for Mines whether he is aware that there are several holding companies registered in the United Kingdom which hold the majority of the shares in both colliery and coal distributing companies, and that it is the practice for these colliery companies generally to make losses and the distributing companies very handsome profits; and whether he will make inquiries into the extent of this practice with a view to putting a stop to it?

Captain Crookshank

I am not aware of the existence of holding companies of the nature described, and with regard to the second and third parts of the question I would point out that not only are the sales by all colliery companies controlled under the provisions of the selling schemes, but also that it is competent, under the wages ascertatainment machinery, for accountants acting on behalf of the workmen to ensure that sales to ancillary concerns, including distributing organisations, are included in the colliery books at a fair market price.

Sir W. Smiles

Has the Minister made inquiries as to the state of affairs in South Wales?

Mr. H. G. Williams

Will the commitees of investigation have the same freedom as the joint accountants?

Mr. Louis Smith

Is the Minister aware that there is growing feeling in the country and great doubt about these matters, and that investigation would clear them up?

Mr. Shinwell

Will the Minister consider the special position of subsidiary concerns established by colliery undertakings charging excessively high prices for coal, items of cost not entering into the wages ascertainment?

Captain Crookshank

That is a different question.

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