HC Deb 23 June 1942 vol 380 cc1788-9
10. Major Sir Jocelyn Lucas

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he can yet make an announcement on the subject of nominee shareholders in newspaper, armament and similar public companies?

Mr. Dalton

I have further considered the question of nominee shareholders in consultation with my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. As indicated in my reply of 28th April to my hon. and gallant Friend, there already exist full powers under the Defence Regulations to compel disclosure to certain Departments of the beneficial ownership of shares held by nominees, where it is considered necessary or expedient to obtain the information in the interests of the public safety, the defence of the realm or the efficient prosecution of the war. It is also within the discretion of the Ministers concerned to publish the information thus obtained. To make any more general provision, such as the prohibition of nominee share- holdings, would require amendment of the Companies Act, for which Parliamentary time is not available in present circumstances.

Sir J. Lucas

Is the Minister aware of the widespread public concern at the evasion of the company law by this method?

Mr. Dalton

It is a very complicated matter, and I have endeavoured to give it attention in consultation with the Home Secretary. If my hon. and gallant Friend has any particular suggestions on the matter, I shall be glad to have them.

Mr. Bellenger

Will my right hon. Friend look at his own files, specially those relating to Debates that have taken place in this House, and he will find plenty of evidence that will be of considerable assistance to him?

Mr. Dalton

We shall be glad to have assistance from anybody.