HL Deb 27 July 1967 vol 285 c1193

3.42 p.m.

Consideration of Commons Amendments resumed.


My Lords, we on this side of the House are grateful to the Government for putting in these Amendments as a result of our instigation. They make it quite clear where the responsibility lies, and it is up to the directors to decide what are substantially different classes of turnover. But, of course, it remains an unsatisfactory arrangement, in that while some companies at present show up the division between classes of turnover, it is to be left to the directors' discretion to decide whether they are in one class of business or two classes of business, which will lead to considerable confusion. For example, one firm of chain stores or supermarkets could decide that they are in only one class of business, while another, similar firm may decide that they are in ten different classes of business, as they have ten different departments in each store.

So there will be no uniformity, no standardisation of practice, and it is very doubtful whether much will be achieved by the inclusion of this clause in the Bill, even though it has been improved. It remains an unsatisfactory arrangement to be put into statutory effect. The position would be much better left as it is at present, where those directors who wish to make the information available to shareholders may do so, rather than attempt to make it a statutory requirement but failing, at the same time, to define it except in terms of "the opinion of the directors".


My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord that in a sense this clause is very unsatisfactory, because it is so arbitrary in its application. Nevertheless, it has been for some time a recommendation of the London Stock Exchange that this information should be given. The Government believe that it is sound to have this in the Bill as a means of encouraging firms more and more to give this information, which it is so desirable should be in the hands of shareholders.

On Question, Motion agreed to.