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Industry Bill

Volume 890: debated on Monday 21 April 1975

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13.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry how many companies have contacted him regarding the effects of proposed legislation on the Industry Bill.

Can the hon. Gentleman say how many were in favour of the proposed legislation?

The number that I have received represents 0·03 per cent. of companies on the Companies House Register. I should not care to say whether this was a concerted propaganda effort, but many of the letters were identical.

As regards the Industry Bill, does my hon. Friend recall that in Standing Committee an amendment of mine seeking to strengthen the National Enterprise Board by giving it powers to raise stock and therefore increase its financial resources received widespread Labour back bench and, indeed, Liberal support? He assured us then—can he repeat it now?—that the Government will take this seriously, despite the fact that the Tories voted against it on that occasion.

My hon. Friend is right in his record of the proceedings. I said then that the Government. having listened carefully to the debate, would return to this matter on Report, and that is what we propose to do.

Did these companies follow up their hostility by underlining it with the pledge that they would never seek financial assistance from the National Enterprise Board?