HC Deb 20 March 1972 vol 833 cc1073-4
30. Mr. Leslie Huckfield

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he will introduce legislation to regulate the disposal of stores of confidential information from bankrupt companies.

Mr. Ridley

The books, records and documents of a company in liquidation are normally in the possession of the liquidator, and fall to be disposed of within the provisions of the Companies Act, 1948, and the Companies (Winding Up) Rules, 1949. I am not sure what particular point the hon. Member may have in mind; while I cannot hold out hope of early legislation, I would be glad to consider the matter further if the hon. Member would care to write to me about the particular point which interests him.

Mr. Huckfield

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Vehicle and General Insurance receiver has given exclusive use to the London and Edinburgh General Insurance Company of over 800,000 names from his files? Is he further aware that the company has been given sufficient information to enable it to send out individual quotations to 340,000 former V. & G. policy holders? Is he further aware that this is highly confidential, highly personal information? Is he also aware that the receiver has said that after this company has finished, after the exclusive use of the lists for one month, anyone who wants to buy the information can do so? What does the Minister intend to do about that?

Mr. Ridley

The answer is that I was not aware of those facts. I will look into them and write to the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Alan Williams

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the circumstances described by my hon. Friend are a matter of legitimate public concern? Will he tell the House whether or not, when such data is sold, any duty of confidentiality is imposed upon the purchaser?

Mr. Ridley

It is a matter for the liquidator in considering the sale of assets of a company whether there are moral reasons which transcend his commercial duty to realise the maximum for the creditors. I am not aware of the circumstances that the hon. Gentleman has raised and I should like to look into the matter before commenting.