HC Deb 13 June 1939 vol 348 cc1094-6
43. Mr. Alan Herbert

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the opinion is widely held that if his decision in the matter of Dr. Buchman is maintained he will be condoning a course of conduct which was, and is, likely to mislead the public; and whether, before giving effect to that decision, he will receive a deputation of Members of this House who view it with grave concern?

Mr. Stanley

I have received a great number of representations from Members of this House and from persons outside it both for and against the grant of the application for the association referred to by my hon. Friend to be registered by the name "Oxford Group." I gave the fullest consideration to all these conflicting views before exercising in this case the power—which is of a quasi-judicial character—conferred upon the Board of Trade by the Companies Act in regard to applications of this nature. In the circumstances, I do not think that any useful purpose would be served by receiving a deputation.

Mr. Herbert

May I ask my right hon. Friend, who is the guardian of commercial morality, whether before making his decision he examined the financial methods and records of Dr. Buchman and his followers, and in particular whether he took note of the severe comments made by Mr. Justice Bennett in a recent law suit?

Mr. Stanley

Of course the hon. Member will realise that one of the consequences of being registered as a company will be that the accounts of the group will have to be kept in a specified form.

Mr. Herbert

Is it not clear that Dr. Buchman and his followers have for the past 10 years been obtaining money under false pretences, and does the right hon. Gentleman think it right that the Board of Trade should now condone those activities in the past and legalise them for the future?

Mr. Stanley

I have no connection whatever with the Oxford Group, but I do not think that a statement of that kind that they have been obtaining money under false pretences is one that should go out from this House.

Mr. Muff

Is it in order for any hon. Member of this House to impute motives of such a nature? Is it not well known that not one of the workers of the Oxford Group receives a penny piece in salary and that those workers are like magistrates in that they belong to the great unpaid?

Mr. Gallacher

Call it Hitler's movement.

Sir Cooper Rawson

On a point of Order. I was referred to twice in the House of Commons last Friday by the hon. and learned Member for somewhere in Scotland.

44. Mr. Herbert

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether in the memorandum and articles of association of the Oxford Group Company it is proposed to include a declaration that the group has no association of any kind with Oxford University or with the Oxford Society?

Mr. Stanley

I am informed that the promoters propose to include in the articles of association a statement that the group has no official connection with Oxford University or with the Oxford Society.

Mr. Herbert

Is that not a final exhibition of the entire dishonesty of these canting cheats?

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member must not talk of people in that way, because it is only likely to lead to trouble.

Mr. Herbert

I am looking for trouble.

Mr. Mathers

Does the Minister recognise from these questions the intervention of the hon. Member on Friday and his statements which have appeared in the Press, that this has become a matter of personal vendetta on the part of the hon. Member for Oxford University (Mr. Herbert)?

Mr. Herbert

No. Common honesty.

Mr. Stanley

I said in my reply that I have attempted to deal with this matter in a quasi-judicial way, as I have to do, and I remain uninfluenced by this sort of statement, either on one side or the other.

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