§ 5. Mr. E. Fletcher
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the terms of reference to the inspector appointed to inquire into the affairs of the Savoy group are wide enough to include an investigation into the dealings in the stock of the Savoy Hotel Limited at, before, and after the formation of Worcester Building Company (London) Limited.
§ 3 and 4. Mr. Snow
asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) whether, in determining the terms of reference of the inspector he has appointed to investigate the affairs of the Savoy group, he took into account the fact that the inflated price paid for the stock subsequently vested in the Worcester Building Company (London) Limited, could only have been paid if backed by an abnormal bank guarantee; and if he will cause this aspect of the matter to be investigated;
(2) whether, in appointing an inspector to investigate the affairs of the Savoy group, he took into consideration the adverse effect on potential foreign investment in the United Kingdom of such a transaction; and what representation he has received that there shall be no inquiry into the financing of this transaction.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (Mr. Henry Strauss)
The inspector's terms of reference are directed to the question raised in this House and elsewhere concerning the legality and propriety of the action of the directors of the Savoy Hotel Limited and of the Berkeley Hotel Company Limited in regard to the transfer to the Worcester Buildings Company (London) Limited of the freehold of the site of the Berkeley Hotel. In appointing the inspector my right hon. Friend took into account the possible effect of action of that kind on investment in the United Kingdom.
While my right hon. Friend had no reason to think that the dealings in the stock of the Savoy Hotel or the financing of such dealings would be relevant to the matter which the inspector was specifically required to investigate, the terms of reference are wide enough to enable him to inquire into them if he considers it necessary to do so. The Board of Trade has not received any representations that there should be no inquiry into the financing of purchases of stock.
§ Mr. Fletcher
I am obliged for that answer. Will the hon. and learned Gentleman bear in mind that there is concern not only about the legality or otherwise of the formation of the company but also as to whether some of the directors were not consulted about the formation of the company, and also about the effect on a number of individuals of Stock Exchange dealings both prior to 1428 and after the formation of the company? Will he ensure that all these matters can be taken into account by the inspector?
§ Mr. Strauss
The hon. Gentleman will have observed from my original reply, and from the terms of reference, if he has seen them, that if the inspector thinks it necessary to look into further matters for the purpose of the inquiry, the terms of reference are wide enough to enable him to do so.
§ Lieut. - Colonel Bromley - Davenport
Is it not in the national interest that our best hotel should be preserved as such, and would it not have been a tragedy if the group in question had been bought by speculators and used for other purposes?