HC Deb 09 July 1968 vol 768 cc198-200
3. Mr. J. H. Osborn

asked the Minister of Power if he will undertake to inform the House of all purchases by a nationalised industry for which he is responsible or by its wholly-owned subsidiaries or any subsidiary in which it has a majority share holding, of shares in any company, together with the cost involved, immediately the purchase or takeover has been completed.

21. Mr. Ridley

asked the Minister of Power if he will issue a general direction to the National Coal Board to publish in its Annual Report the names, the cost and all details of any further acquisitions of companies made by itself or its subsidiaries.

37. Mr. Hall-Davis

asked the Minister of Power if he will issue a general direction to the nationalised industries for which he is responsible to publish in their annual report the names, the cost and all details of any further acquisitions made by themselves or their subsidiaries.

Mr. Freeson

Information about companies bought by the industries referred to will be included in their annual Reports and Accounts which are laid before the House. Copies of the accounts of the N.C.B.'s partly-owned subsidiaries will be placed in the Library.

Mr. Osborn

Whilst I welcome the Parliamentary Secretary's reply, may I ask what steps will be taken to inform us as and when these purchases take place rather than waiting for the Annual Report which will be well after the event? Will he ensure that the Report gives details of purchases by each individual subsidiary and that they will not be put under one collective heading, which I think the Parliamentary Secretary will agree has hitherto been the case?

Mr. Freeson

In reply to the first point, as has been said before in reply to similar questions, it is not the policy to announce each individual item. In reply to the second point, I can give an assurance to the hon. Member and to the House that the National Coal Board will in future give in its own accounts information on all the companies owned either by itself or by any of its subsidiaries.

Mr. Hall-Davis

Will the Parliamentary Secretary also give an undertaking that the information will continue for a reasonable period to be given separately with regard to the profitability of these acquisitions, so that their performance can be judged against the profit criteria laid down for nationalised industries?

Mr. Freeson

I take it that when the information is published in relation to each company owned by the National Coal Board or its subsidiaries it will give the relevant information to which the hon. Member refers.

Mr. Ridley

Will the hon. Gentleman agree that his answer to this question last month, that information was contained in the annual reports of the industries concerned, was misleading because the annual reports only say that a number of companies were acquired? Does he now give an undertaking that the full names, prices, costs and information relating to each company will in future be given in the reports?

Mr. Freeson

I have already answered the main burden of the question. In reply to the first point made by the hon. Member, I would not accept that I was misleading the House on a previous occasion.

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