HC Deb 13 December 1960 vol 632 cc202-3
35. Mr. Cooper

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will institute a public inquiry into the share dealings of Vactric Limited, now in the hands of the Official Receiver, since 1st April, 1960, with particular reference to put options and short selling.

Mr. N. Macpherson

My right hon. Friend has no powers to institute inquiries into share dealings.

Mr. Cooper

Is my hon. Friend aware that by deliberate intent a "bear" position was exposed in Manchester, involving several hundreds of thousands of shares, and that this has contributed to this company's misfortune? Is it not high time that the casino mentality of a few operators should be exposed?

Mr. Macpherson

I should be grateful to my hon. Friend if he would give the evidence on which he bases his statement. The company's affairs are, as he says, now within the jurisdiction of the court and, therefore, my right hon. Friend cannot now appoint an inspector under Section 165.

Mr. H. Wilson

What is the good of giving information to the Board of Trade if it cannot take any action when it gets it? Would the hon. Gentleman say that when the matter is no longer sub judice the Board will have power to institute an inquiry under the Companies Act? If it cannot, will it ask the Council of the Stock Exchange to inquire into the whole question, in view of the deep concern felt on both sides of the House about the activities to which the hon. Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Cooper) has drawn attention?

Mr. Macpherson

The point is that neither my right hon. Friend nor the Stock Exchange has had up to the moment information on which such action could be based, but if such information is forthcoming the Government will certainly consider whether such action can be taken.