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London And Counties Securities Group Limited

Volume 884: debated on Monday 13 January 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether the investigation by his Department into the affairs of the London and Counties Securities Group Limited has been completed; and if he will make a statement.

The inspectors have reached the concluding stages of their inquiries and I hope to receive their report soon. I am not in a position at present to make a statement.

Would my hon. Friend care to inform us whether the report is being held up because of the failure, as yet, to interview the Leader of the Liberal Party, as one of the directors of London and Counties Securities? In view of the recent revelations about the difficulties of another secondary bank—indeed, many others, for that matter—will he also say whether there is any truth in the widely reported comments that 30 secondary banks are receiving aid from the Government, and thus from the taxpayer, and whether this fits in with Government policy of wealthy directors scooping the pool?

There is no reason to attribute the fact that the report has not yet been provided for us to any failure to interview anybody. As I have indicated to my hon. Friend in my answer today, and, indeed, as I have said on previous occasions, we are hoping to get this report quite shortly now, and it will be for my Department to consider what steps should then be taken.

My hon. Friend should table a specific Question on the wider ranging points he has made if he expects to receive a proper reply to them.

Will the Minister expedite the publication of this report, because the Leader of the Liberal Party will no doubt gain considerable electoral advantage from the personal sympathy which these monotonous and malicious attacks upon him are bound to engender?

The question of the publication of the report is one that we have to consider in the light of our findings about the report itself. If we, as a Department, consider that the situation could lead to prosecution, it could well be that we would then take the view that publication of the report should be deferred. This is in accordance with the usual practice.

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that London and Counties Securities was the first of many, and many to come? Will he say how many other companies are being investigated by his Department at present?

I am surprised that someone of the hon. Gentleman's experience apparently does not know that if he wants a detailed answer to a question of that character he should table a specific Question. I could not possibly answer that question here and now.