HC Deb 21 February 1956 vol 549 c179
26. Mr. J. Johnson

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the conditions under which Sheffield Forge and Rolling Mills were offered to the public after denationalisation and by what means the sale was advertised.

Mr. H. Macmillan

In the view of the Iron and Steel Holding and Realisation Agency, this Company was not suitable for a public offer of its securities, and in the absence of any approach from the former shareholders, there were informal negotiations with several potential purchasers. In the event the Company was sold privately to Darwins Limited on 18th December, 1953, for £420,000.

Mr. Johnson

Is the Chancellor aware that by former employees of the Sheffield Forge and Rolling Mills this is looked on as an under-the-counter sale and that the Iron and Steel Holding and Realisation Agency did give the firm away at what might be called give-away figures?

Mr. Macmillan

I think that when the hon. Member reflects upon this he will think it a very wrong attack to make on those concerned with this, who have the very highest standards of honesty and honour.

Mr. Gordon Walker

But would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is better, none the less, that these things should be seen to be done in an open way, and that if they are done in concealment it is bound to be said that they have been done in concealment, as my hon. Friend said?

Mr. Macmillan

It is bound to be said by people of a certain type or temperament. In fact, the Agency's book value was £276,000. There was, therefore, a profit on the sale of £144,000.