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English Steel Company Shareholders (Voting Rights)

Volume 529: debated on Tuesday 29 June 1954

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the £10 million of capital of the English Steel Company still remaining in the hands of the Iron and Steel Realisation Agency has any voting rights in normal circumstances.

The holders of these securities have rights of the kind commonly attached to debentures and preference shares respectively. In the hon. Member's phrase, these do not include voting rights in normal circumstances.

Is it the policy of the Government where half the capital of an iron and steel company passes into private hands and half remains in public hands that all the control of the company should be concentrated in private hands?

No, Sir, not as a general proposition. It happens to have been a convenient operation in this case. That exactly carries out the sense of Section 18 (1) of the Iron and Steel Act, to the terms of which I would refer the hon. Member.

Does the Chancellor think he will be regarded as a reliable trustee for the taxpayer if he goes on approving dubious deals of this kind?

I should not think it was a dubious deal to sell the risk-bearing part and to keep the safe part.