§ 17. Mr. Osborne
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what advice he gave to the Bank of England before it ruled against United Kingdom shareholders being permitted to accept shares in the Timken Roller Bearing Company of Ohio, United States of America, in exchange for their holdings in British Timken Company; and for what reasons 203 British shareholders are thus debarred from participating in United States industrial prosperity.
When specific Exchange Control permission is given for the purchase by non-residents of shares in United Kingdom companies it is our policy to require a cash payment across the official exchange. On the other hand, we do not allow portfolio investment by residents in non-resident companies except through the use of switch dollars which are the proceeds of shares in foreign companies which were already held by residents in this country. An exchange of shares would have been contrary to both these requirements.
§ Mr. Paget
Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us a little more about this matter, which, I can assure him, is causing very great anxiety? We have a takeover bid for a minority holding well above the Stock Exchange price in an industry which is very important to our exports as well as to local employment. Is there an intention to put British Timken into liquidation and make it an American subsidiary and, if so, can he do anything to stop that or prevent it, or have any control to see that this business operates as an English concern?
I think that this particular case has been considered on its merits and I can see no circumstances in which to interfere with what is proposed.