HC Deb 05 December 1973 vol 865 cc1413-4

10.25 p.m.

The Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Mr. Anthony Grant)

I beg to move, That the Companies (Fees) Regulations 1973, a draft of which was laid before this House on 29th November, be approved. In order to assist the staff of the House to get home tonight, I shall content myself with moving the order formally. I shall be happy to answer any questions.

10.26 p.m.

Mr. Bruce Millan (Glasgow, Craigton)

The Opposition approve of the intention and the form of the order. However, I should like to ask one or two questions.

Will the hon. Gentleman say how much additional money the order is likely to bring in and whether it will put the Companies House registration office in a state of solvency? Related to that is the question of the number of incorporations which are done at the minimum share capital level. What proportion of total registrations is done at the minimum level? On that point, one of the intentions of these regulations is to reduce that number. We shall be able to debate this matter at some length during the proceedings on the Companies Bill later this Session but we support that objective, although I am rather sceptical whether the increases under the order will do that.

Mr. Grant

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for putting his questions clearly. I deal, first, with the question of how much additional revenue will come in as a result of these increases in fees. It will depend to some extent on how effective they are, but the best estimate that we can give is that we expect another £1 million or £1½ million to come in. The companies registry is at present solvent—just—but we would expect that, even allowing for the additional costs that will arise, the increased revenue will put it substantially in credit.

As to the number of new registrations, last year there were about 51,000. The estimate for this year is 63,000, and this contrasts with a figure of about 19,000 or 20,000 for 1968. So there has been a very substantial and sudden increase over the years. Of these registrations, approximately 80 per cent., we estimate, are of the minimum paid-up capital. Therefore, the figures for minimum paid-up capital new registrations, if my arithmetic is correct, are about 16,000 in 1968, about 41,000 in 1972 and about 50,000 for this year.

Mr. David Mitchell (Basingstoke)

Will my hon. Friend assure the House that this measure is in no way designed to reduce the number of companies being formed and registered and that he is as anxious as are we on the Government side of the House to increase the number of small companies which are being set up?

Mr. Grant

It is intended, as the Jenkins Committee recommended, to minimise unnecessary, irresponsible and frivolous registrations.

Question put and agreed to.


That the Companies (Fees) Regulations 1973, a draft of which was laid before this House on 29th November, be approved.

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