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Accountancy Firms

Volume 164: debated on Monday 8 January 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list the companies within his responsibilities in which the Government have sold their financial stake since June 1979; and which were the accountancy firms which either advised or reported on the prospectus in each case.

The holdings sold by my Department, together with the appropriate advisers, were British Aerospace (Peat Marwick Mitchell); Rolls-Royce (Coopers and Lybrand); British Steel (Coopers and Lybrand); British Telecom (Coopers and Lybrand); Cable and Wireless (Deloitte Haskins and Sells); Jaguar (J. Henry Schroder Wagg and Co. Ltd.) and Rover Group (Baring Brothers, and Slaughter and May).Other disposals comprised various subsidiaries of companies in public ownership; and the sale of 9ยท5 per cent. shareholding in Short Brothers in which the Northern Ireland Department of Economic Development had primary responsibility. A number of holdings in other companies have been returned to the private sector by the National Enterprise Board.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether any appointments have been made to the accounting standards task force of employees of firms against whom action has been taken by his Department.

One member of the accounting standards task group is employed by such a firm.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether at any time since June 1979 any accountancy firm found to be lacking in professional conduct, efficiency and competence by the joint disciplinary scheme has supplied inspectors for any of his Department's investigations.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will seek to amend the Companies Acts to ensure that where reporting accountants have been criticised by Department of Trade and Industry inspectors within the last five years, published prospectuses shall give this information.

No. The purpose of prospectuses is to enable potential investors to assess the merits of the investment they are being offered.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list the reports published of Department of Trade and Industry investigations into accountancy firms since June 1979, showing the date of publication, date of completion of the report and the date on which the inspectors were appointed in each case.

Reports published by my right hon. Friend are those of inspectors appointed to investigate a company's affairs under section 432 of the Companies Act 1985, its membership under section 442, and share dealings under section 446. These sections do not relate to investigations of accountancy firms.