§ Mr. SHEEHAN
asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) whether he will obtain information as to the nature of the proceedings which have been instituted against certain directors of the Union Life Assurance Company of Canada; whether he will inquire into the constitution and proceedings of the London advisory board of this company; whether this assurance company had a banking account in this country, had all their shareholders in this country, and that meetings of these shareholders were held here; whether he is aware that it was through the instrumentality of Mr. A. M. de Beck, acting as chairman of the investigation committee of the shareholders, that the frauds perpetrated by this company on the British public were exposed; what assistance he is prepared to give to the shareholders to recover some portion of their property and to bring to justice the several persons in London who knowingly assisted in defrauding them; and (2) whether he has seen the prospectus of the Union Life Assurance Company of Canada; whether his attention has been called to the fact that it contained several statements in connection with which certain directors are at present being prosecuted in Canada; is he aware that there are 745 shareholders of this company in Great Britain who subscribed £157,000; if the criminal law will be put into operation in this country against any person who has assisted in the preparation of a fraudulent prospectus here; and what steps he proposes to take to bring to justice those who assisted in defrauding 745 British shareholders out of £157,000?
§ Mr. BURNS
As I have previously informed my hon. Friend, the Union Life Assurance Company of Canada was not registered in this country, and, so far as I am aware, did not carry on any business here. In these circumstances, the Board of Trade have no information as to whether meetings of the shareholders were held in this country, and they have no jurisdiction to conduct an investigation into the constitution or proceedings of any London advisory board of the company. The only information which the Board of Trade have as to the number or residence28W of the shareholders is contained in a report of the Superintendent of Insurance of the Dominion of Canada, according to which shares to the nominal amount of 982,500 dollars were held by a Canadian company, the great majority of the remaining shares being held by persons with addresses in the United Kingdom. I have seen a copy of the prospectus advertised in the "Times" by the company in the year 1910, and as that prospectus contained the names of bankers in this country to whom the deposits in respect of applications for shares were payable the company no doubt had a banking account in this country at one time. I have no information as to the action taken by the chairman of any investigation committee of the shareholders, and I have no power to assist the shareholders to enforce any claims which they may have to recover money subscribed by them. I will have inquiries made as to the nature of any proceedings which have been instituted against any of the directors of the company in Canada, but if my hon. Friend considers that he has evidence that a criminal offence has been committed in this country in connection with the affairs of the company, he should, as my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade stated last Wednesday, lay such evidence before the Director of Public Prosecutions for his consideration.