HC Deb 24 January 2000 vol 343 cc48-9W
Mr. Dismore

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) if he will seek to reform company law to control the use of companies for fundraising for extremist purposes; [106096]

(2) if he will investigate possible breaches of company law by Info 2000 Software Ltd; and if he will make a statement; [106094]

(3) if he will make a statement on the circumstances in which a limited company may be used for fundraising for extremist causes; [106093]

(4) if he will seek to amend company law to enable those dealing with companies whose function is fundraising for extremist causes to be aware of the nature of the company with which they are dealing. [106095]

Mr. Byers

[holding answer 20 January 2000]: In many cases a company's memorandum of association, delivered for the purposes of incorporation, will disclose the nature of its objects. However this is not a statutory requirement and a company's objects are often drafted in general terms and do not in practice restrain the company's activities. In subsequent disclosure on its annual return, a company is required either to give its Standard Industrial Classification code, which indicates its main activities, or to give a verbal description of them. Those companies that are obliged to file a directors' report as part of their annual accounts must include a description of their main activities in that report. All these documents are available for public inspection.

At present, the law requires that companies disclose in the directors' report all donations or subscriptions in excess of £200 to a political party of the United Kingdom. The Political Parties Elections and Referendums Bill, now before the House, will seek to widen the scope of this disclosure requirement by extending it to include all foreign political parties.

If a company and/or those connected with it, are engaged in any criminal activity, they will be subject to the appropriate criminal sanctions. If a company fails to file its annual report or accounts, this can lead to the company being struck off. In relation to the specific company referred to in my hon. Friend's questions, it is currently in default of its filing obligations, and steps are being taken to strike the company off. If the hon. Member has any further specific information it should be sent to my Department, for consideration of what further action, if any, should be taken.