§ 28. Mr. Hamling
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will set up an inquiry under Section 165(b,iii) of the Companies Act, 1948, into the take-over of Lewis's Investment Trust by the British Shoe Corporation, whose members have not been given all the information they might reasonably expect.
§ Mr. Jay
On the information at present available to me there do not appear to be grounds for appointing an inspector under Section 165(b,iii) of the Companies Act, 1948, to investigate the affairs of British Shoe Corporation Ltd.
§ Mr. Hamling
Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is some disquiet amongst British Shoe Corporation shareholders about the future earning prospects under the new régime and also about their voting rights? Is he also aware that the older employees of Lewis's are most disturbed about their future prospects?
§ Mr. Jay
I can only say to my hon. Friend that we have no information which would justify us in acting under the Section of the Companies Act which my hon. Friend has mentioned. If he has any such information we shall, of course, be glad to look into it.
§ 37. Mr. Barnett
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will give an assurance that he will not use his powers in the field of monopolies and mergers or under the Companies Act, 1948, to discourage take-overs such as that of Lewis's Investment Trust by the British Shoe Corporation.
§ Mr. Jay
The Board has no power under the Companies Act, 1948, to discourage particular take-overs.
§ Mr. Barnett
While having no particular love for Mr. Clore, may I ask whether my right hon. Friend agrees that it does not help either employees, shareholders or the nation for him to do anything at all which would in any way discourage this sort of take-over of boards of directors who are by any standards inefficient? Will he, therefore, take all possible steps to encourage take-overs of this type of board?
§ Mr. Peter Emery
Will the President of the Board of Trade use extreme care in the powers that have been given to him, because the criticism that was made by this side of the House when he made his announcement that this type of merger was likely to cease has proved right in 50 per cent. of the cases dealt with so far?