HC Deb 10 November 1936 vol 317 cc672-4

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he proposes to take any action to protect the public from the operations of fraudulent vendors of shares?


It is my intention to set up, as soon as possible, a Departmental Committee to consider this matter and to make recommendations as to the action to be taken.


Arising out of that reply —which will give general satisfaction—may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether in the interval, in view of the increasing activity of these sharks, he can do anything in the way of issuing a public warning, to check their depredations in the meantime?


A great deal of publicity has already been given to their activities, and I hope it has been noted by the investing public.


Will the right hon. Gentleman not take spaces in the newspapers—large spaces, with illustrations—for the purpose of warning people against buying these worthless shares?


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the activities of share pushers in connection with a company called Building Construction Investment, Limited, Suffolk House, London; whether he will cause investigation to be made as to any connection between the share pushers and any officials of the company; whether he is aware that the police have information that, while 484,196 shares in the company have been allotted, only 7,196 of these shares have been issued for cash; whether it is proposed to take any proceedings to protect the interests of bona fide investors in the concern; and whether the Government will initiate legislation to curb the activities of fraudulent share pushers?


I am informed that in June and July, 1935, four men were prosecuted at the instance of the Director of Public Prosecutions and convicted in connection with the hawking of shares which included those of Building Construction Investment, Limited. According to the last annual return filed by this company with the Registrar of Companies, 493,452 shares of 10s. each have been issued, of which 11,452 purport to have been issued for cash. The Board of Trade have no power, in the case of a company not in liquidation, to make any investigation except at the request of shareholders under the provisions of Section 135 of the Companies Act, 1929. As regards the last part of the question, I would refer the right hon. Gentleman to the answer which I have just given to question No. 6.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the case of the prosecutions to which he has referred the persons prosecuted have disappeared, and is he further aware that victims subsequent to that prosecution have appealed to the police in vain, as they say they are unable to do anything?


I shall be glad to pass any information which my right hon. Friend can produce on to the proper authorities.


Then are we to understand that if I give the right hon. Gentleman specific information as to one case of grotesque robbery and fraud, he will see that prosecution takes place?


No, I cannot make that definite promise, but I can see that the information falls into the right hands so that a decision may be taken.


In view of these well-recognised robberies that are taking place, will the right hon. Gentleman consider the advisability of establishing a National Investment Board to prevent them?

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