HC Deb 19 July 1967 vol 750 cc2362-4

Amendments made: No. 209, in page 39, line 1, leave out from 'that' to `in' in line 3 and insert: 'the entries therein against the several names inscribed therein appear'.

No. 210, in line 14, leave out from second 'the' to 'and' in line 15 and insert: 'place at which the register required to be kept by the company by section 29 of this Act is kept'.—[Mr. Jay.]

Mr. Jay

I beg to move Amendment No. 211, in page 39, line 18, after first 'inspection' to insert: 'but save in so far as it contains information with respect to a company for the time being entitled to avail itself of the benefit conferred by section 3(3) or 4(3) of this Act'. With this Amendment Amendments Nos. 212 and 214 are associated.

The purpose of these Amendments is to ensure that a dispensation given to a company under Clause 3 or Clause 4 is not nullified by the provisions in this Clause. This would otherwise have been the effect of the Bill. That was not an effect which any of us intended. As the Clause stands, a dispensation given under Clause 3(3) or Clause 4(3) permits a company to withhold from its accounts, or from a statement annexed to its annual return, information about a subsidiary or an associated company which is incorporated outside the United Kingdom or, being incorporated in the United Kingdom, carries on business outside the United Kingdom. It follows that, if the information were open to inspection, there would be publication of the fact that the company keeping the register was a subsidiary of or asociated with the company which had been granted the dispensation. That would defeat the object of the dispensation, which was intended to avoid publication of any relationship between the company to which the dispensation had been granted and the company in respect of which it is permitted to withhold information.

The Amendment overcomes that difficulty by providing that, where a register kept in accordance with the Clause contains information about a company which for the time being is entitled to avail itself of the benefit conferred by Clause 3(3) or Clause 4(3), that part of the register which contains that information shall not be open to inspection. I think that achieves what both sides of the House intended.

Mr. Michael Shaw

I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on expounding this matter so clearly so early in the morning. The dawn must be breaking. The Amendment makes a tremendous improvement, because it blocks a very important loophole, in that people could have been very easily embarrassed through having information disclosed under this Clause, whereas the intention was to keep it hidden by loopholes in earlier Clauses. This reveals once again that we are reaching a stage in legislation when there seem to be so many complications that powers of discretion to ease the onus in as many respects as possible are necessary, This is a deficiency in the Bill that we have found. We have found several others. Indeed, no fewer than 175 Amendments have been tabled by the Government on Re- port. There may well be other deficiencies in the Bill which we have not yet unearthed. The more scope we can have to give the Board of Trade power to relieve people of necessities such as this the better.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: No. 212, in page 39, line 21, at end insert: 'but in so far as it contains such information shall not be open to inspection'.

No. 213, in line 21, at end insert: (5A) Unless the said register is in such form as to constitute in itself an index, the company shall keep an index of the names inscribed therein which shall—

  1. (a) in respect of each name, contain a sufficient indication to enable the information inscribed against it to be readily found; and
  2. (b) be kept at the same place as the said register;
and the company shall, within fourteen days after the date on which a name is inscribed in the said register, make any necessary alteration in the index.

No. 214, in line 22, leave out from the beginning to on ' in line 23 and insert: 'As regards so much of the said register as is required to be open to inspection, any member of the company or other person may require a copy of it, or any part of it.'.

No. 215, in line 31, leave out 'or (3)' and insert '(3) or (5A).—[Mr. Jay.]