§ 4 Mr. Page
asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) how much is received annually by the Registry of Business Names in fees paid for registrations;
(2) what benefits are derived, by the public generally and in Government administration, from the operations of the Registry of Business Names;
(3) what is the annual cost of maintaining the Registry of Business Names.
§ Sir D. Eccles
There are two Registrars of Business Names, one in London and one in Edinburgh. The figures given in this reply cover both offices.
The annual receipts for registration foes averaged £9,200 over the three years ended 30th September, 1958.
The Registrars of Business Names have a statutory duty to register certain particulars which enable the public to 541 identify the owners of businesses which are carried on by persons, firms and companies trading in names other than their own. Some 40,000 inquiries are received each year. The Registrars also have certain duties under the Companies Act, 1947, in regard to the registration of business names which might be misleading.
The net cost of maintaining the Registries in the last financial year was some £27,000.
§ Mr. Page
Was not this Registry instituted in 1914 for the purpose of tracing aliens carrying on business in a different name, and has it not served all its purpose? Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that it is now really serving any purpose to the public? Could not the purpose be achieved by enforcing the law that partners should put their names on the top of notepaper and other documents, so disclosing that they are carrying on business in another name, without this Registry?
§ Sir D. Eccles
The fact that there have been 40,000 inquiries a year tends to show that the public appreciate the Registries. I am told that possibly the main purpose for which they make inquiries today is to find the true name of a proprietor whom a creditor may wish to sue for a debt incurred under the business name.
§ Mr. Usborne
Can the Minister state the approximate percentage of firms trading under the names of the proprietors, which are not protected, and the number of firms trading under names that have been registered, and thus thought to be protected? I am inclined to think that if it does not matter to the first lot, it cannot matter a great deal to the latter lot.