HC Deb 07 February 1939 vol 343 cc748-9
62. Mr. T. Smith

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his Department were solely responsible for making the final decision to appoint an inspector to investigate the affairs of the Gaumont-British Corporation?

Mr. Stanley

Yes, Sir.

65. Mr. T. Williams

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his Department has now acceded to the repeated requests made on behalf of 90 per cent. of the shareholders of the Gaumont-British Picture Corporation representing up to 10,000,000 shares for facilities to prove malicious intent on the part of certain persons who applied for an investigation into the company's affairs?

Mr. Stanley

In arriving at a decision on the application for an investigation into the affairs of Gaumont-British under Section 135 of the Companies Act, I took fully into account all the representations made to me by the directors of the company, including those which were directed to allegations of malice; but having regard to the provisions of the Section and to all the information before me, I did not regard it as essential to a proper consideration of the application that I should depart from the normal practice in these matters by complying with a request from the directors for a nominal list of the shareholder applicants, who number over 3,000. I would point out that Section 135 of the Act provides an important safeguard to a minority of shareholders, and it is a matter of public importance that shareholders should not be deterred from applying by the fear of undue pressure which might be brought to bear on them if their names were disclosed.

Mr. Williams

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the reply he gave me on 22nd February last year was a mistake—that a list of signatures would be made available?

Mr. Stanley

I really do not recollect that I gave that answer then.

Mr. R. C. Morrison

In view of the position that may arise during this investigation, will the right hon. Gentleman take steps to expedite it so that a decision can be come to as soon as possible?

Mr. Stanley

I am sure that everybody who is interested will agree that, provided the investigation is carried out properly, it should be carried out as speedily as possible.

Sir Reginald Clarry

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that the small statutory 10 per cent. necessary shareholding does not lend itself to exploitation by a minority for its own particular purposes?

Mr. Stanley

The Statute has made certain provisions, and it is my duty to carry them out.

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