HC Deb 19 January 1981 vol 997 cc12-3
16. Mr. Beaumont-Dark

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what reactions have so far been received to the consultative document on the purchase by a company of its own shares.

Mr. Eyre

Very full and favourable. In the light of these reactions, my right hon. Friend told the House on 18 December of the Government's intention to deal with this in the next Companies Bill.

Mr. Beaumont-Dark

May I assure my hon. Friend that his response will be widely welcomed in industry and in the City, bearing in mind the great success of this measure in the United States? Have we an understanding that such a provision will be introduced in the next Companies Bill? If it is introduced, it will be met with considerable approval in industry.

Mr. Eyre

I appreciate the importance that my hon. Friend attaches to the issue. Subject to appropriate safeguards, we see no reason why company law should prohibit any class of company from buying its own shares. That is permissible in many other countries, and I confirm that it is our intention to include a provision to that effect in the next Companies Bill.

Mr. Clinton Davis

Bearing in mind that the Companies Bill is not contentious in party political terms, will the Minister reconsider the decision that he announced previously, that he would not publish draft clauses prior to the introduction of the Bill? Is he aware that the precedents for publication were widely welcomed not only by the financial press, but by many other experts, and that it is a useful way of ensuring that matters are debated by those who are experts, rather than just having a debate in the House of Commons after publication of the Bill?

Mr. Eyre

The hon. Gentleman is right to emphasise the importance of consultation on technical clauses whenever possible and whenever time permits. Indeed, that would be our wish. As he knows, wherever possible there has been a good deal of consultation on draft clauses. However, we shall very soon be in a position to publish the Bill.