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Company Inspection

Volume 939: debated on Friday 18 November 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he plans to improve the system of the company inspectorate within his Department in the light of criticism from the Panel on Take-overs and Mergers; and if he will make a statement.

The system of company inspections is under constant review, and a year ago my right hon. Friend and I had a meeting of inspectors to consider whether changes and improvements were necessary or desirable. The general view, which I share, was that in essentials present procedures were fundamentally sound. I remain ready to consider any improvements which experience shows to be desirable.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if, in future cases, he will state why a company inspection is or is not authorised by his Department in a given case.

As was recommended by the Jenkins Committee. I do not believe that it would be appropriate for my Department to be required to give detailed reasons for the exercise of investigatory powers. Before the report of the Jenkins Committee it was the practice to forward a statement to the company before an appointment and this practice was much criticised. In my view, we ought not to run the risk of papers being destroyed or altered, or of informants being deterred by fears of retaliation.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he is satisfied that unsuitable persons will not be appointed as company inspectors in view of the concern expressed by the Panel on Takeovers and Mergers.

MembersAlternate Members
Mr. Colin North Smith, a senior partner in Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co.
Insurance Company Members
Mr. Kenneth George Addison, a General Manager of Sun Alliance and London Insurance Group.Mr. Ronald Kenneth Bishop, a director and Deputy Chief General Manager, Phoenix Assurance Company Ltd.
Mr. Allan Wallace Grant, OBE, MC, TD, Chairman of Ecclesiastical Insurance Office Ltd.Mr. Derek Conway Bourdon, Deputy General Manager, Prudential Assurance Company Ltd.
Mr. Ian Isles, MC, director of a Scottish Equitable Life Assurance Society.Mr. David Henry Maitland, Managing Director, Save and Prosper Group Ltd.
Policyholder Representative
Mr. James Maxwell Wood, OBE, a member of the National Consumer Council.Miss Rosemary McRobert, a council member of Consumers' Association and Director of the Retail Trading-Standards Association.