§ Mr. Sedgemore
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1) how many investigations have been made under section 444 of the Companies Act 1985 and its predecessor, section 173 of the Companies Act 1948, in each of the last five years;
(2) how many civil servants at the Department of Trade and Industry, and how many others, are currently concerned in carrying out investigations under section 444 of the Companies Act 1985;
(3) what criteria he uses in deciding whether to hold an investigation under section 444 of the Companies Act 1985 into the ownership of shares in or debentures of a company.
§ Mr. Maude
The criteria for an investigation under section 444 of the Companies Act 1985 is that it appears to the Secretary of State there is good reason to investigate the ownership of any shares or debentures of a company, and that it is unnecessary to appoint inspectors for the purpose. The section empowers the Secretary of State or his officers to make the investigations; it does not empower him to appoint outsiders for this purpose. No investigations are currently in progress. Information sought about previous investigations cannot be provided without undue expense.