§ 33. Mr. Whitaker
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will introduce legislation to ensure that companies who intend to divert shareholders' money to political causes give advance warning of the fact in their prospectus and articles of association.
§ 53 and 54. Mr. Bidwell
asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) if he will introduce legislation to oblige joint-stock companies to seek permission from annual shareholders' meetings before making contributions to political party funds;
§ (2) if he is aware of substantial sums being donated to the funds of political parties from joint-stock company finances; and if he will introduce legislation to enable shareholders to contract out of such practices.
§ Mr. Dell
As I informed my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead (Mr. Whitaker), on 29th May, I think that the provision in the Companies Act, 1967, which requires political contributions to be disclosed, is sufficient for the purpose.—[Vol. 765, c. 1800–1.]
§ Mr. Whitaker
Is my hon. Friend aware that I have had protests from members of all three political parties whose money, subscribed to a commercial concern, has been diverted without their consent to a political end? Is it not unfair that directors should be allowed to do this with money which does not belong to them?
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
Has the hon. Gentleman any evidence as yet as to whether there have been any protests or other action by shareholders? If he has not, is that not evidence that they realise that this expenditure is in the best interests of their company and an important way of defending their interests against Socialist economic practices which jeopardise the economic prosperity of the country?
§ Mr. Orme
Is my hon. Friend aware that more; information should be given? Could not trade union money invested through unit trusts be used for a form of investment against the interests of the basic aims of the trade unions and thereafter perhaps be subscribed both to Aims of Industry Limited and to the Tory Party?
§ Mr. Dell
The position is that all the information is given. It is required by law that political contributions shall now be revealed. The suggestion that is being made in these Questions is that the shareholders should have a right to prevent their companies making political contributions. Shareholders now know what the facts are.
§ Mr. Dudley Smith
Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that, if a shareholder thinks that his company is being run badly he can always contract out?