§ 2. Mr. Les Huckfield
asked the Secretary of State for Trade when he expects to meet the chairman of the British Insurance Association.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Trade (Mr. Reginald Eyre)
My right hon. Friend met the chairman of the British Insurance Association on 6 November and has no present plans for a further meeting.
§ Mr. Huckfield
The case of Prudential Assurance Co. Ltd. v. Newman Industries, which particularly concerns me, is sub judice, but may I ask whether when the Secretary of State next meets the chairman of the British Insurance Association, as I hope he will, the right hon. Gentleman will raise with the chairman the important matter of a large institutional investor taking a very small minority stake in a company and pursuing a battle of endless litigation which may end up to the detriment of other shareholders and the employees?
§ Mr. Eyre
The hon. Gentleman knows that I cannot refer to the case of Newman Industries because the matter is before the courts. On the wider point concerning institutional shareholders, I should point out that this range of matters is being considered by the committee under the chairmanship of the right hon. Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson).
§ Mr. Clinton Davis
Has the hon. Gentleman discussed with the British Insurance Association the options that he is exploring in cost cutting within his Department as they affect the supervisory role of the insurance division? Is he aware that there is great anxiety lest we 3 go back to the lack of supervision of the early 1970s? Can he indicate approximately how many people are engaged in such supervisory duties in his Department?
§ Mr. Eyre
The hon. Gentleman will know that this part of my Department is being reviewed, as are all other parts, but no decisions have been taken. I emphasise that my right hon. Friend has made perfectly clear that an effective and efficient system of supervision of the insurance industry will be maintained.
§ Mr. McCrindle
Will my hon. Friend confirm that, notwithstanding any stabilisation of the staff of the insurance division which may take place, there is no indication from the Government that they propose to move backwards from the supervisory provisions of the Insurance Companies Act 1974?