HC Deb 12 February 1953 vol 511 cc582-3
26. Mr. Lewis

asked the President of the Board of Trade for each of the years from 1945, the total number of companies that have gone into voluntary or compulsory liquidation.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

With the hon. Member's permission, I will circulate the information in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Lewis

Do not the figures show that there were more bankruptcies last year than at any time since 1945, and are we to understand, therefore, that the only freedom which this Government have given to the people is the freedom to go bankrupt?

Mr. Thomeycroft

The figures do not really show that. They show that the number of compulsory liquidations last year were rather fewer than in 1950. I do not think that the deductions which are sought to be drawn from the number of bankruptcies are either very sound or, for the hon. Gentleman, very safe, because the record under the previous Government—if this basis of argument is used, which I think is false anyway—would be shown to be worse.

Brigadier Medlicott

Do the figures include the voluntary liquidation of the Labour Government in 1951?

Mr. Lewis

How can the right hon. Gentleman reconcile his answer to my supplementary with the figures he gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Dartford (Mr. Dodds) in his answer to Question No. 1?

Mr. Thorneycroft

The Question asked by the hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Dodds) related to bankruptcies, whereas these are voluntary liquidations of companies.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Would my right hon. Friend confirm that while the ultimate sanction of a private enterprise economy is the bankruptcy court, the ultimate sanction of Socialist collective economy is the hangman?

Mr. Thorneycroft

That goes a little wide of the Question.

Following is the information:

Year Voluntary Liquidations Compulsory Liquidations
1945 1,063 57
1946 1,751 78
1947 2,330 161
1948 2,470 343
1949 2,696 413
1950 2,613 464
1951 2,348 407
1952 2,669 436