19 SEPTEMBER 1925, Page 14


[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.] Sra,—I should be glad if you would permit me to make a few comments upon the letter over the initials " A. S. B." in your issue of September 5th. Apparently A. S. B." has been consorting with Comrade A. J. Cook, forgetful of the old adage that " Evil communications corrupt good manners " ; how otherwise shall we account for a " professional man who has practised in a colliery district for over twenty years," making charges of dishonesty against the general body of colliery directors and, inferentially, against the various firms of chartered accountants who audit their accounts not only in the interests of their shareholders but also of the men ? " A. S. B." should know that directors of public companies cannot pay themselves any higher fees than are provided for. in their Articles of Association, certified by the companies' auditors and confirmed by the shareholders. Therefore, for your correspondent to charge them with " the payment of high salaries and directors' fees, to avoid disclosing profits," is to show a lamentable ignorance concerning the workings of joint stock companies, and an utter recklessness in his attempt to besmirch the good name of a large body of gentle- men, directors and auditors alike, who, presumably, are all equally as honourable as " A. S. B. " himself. Evidence given at the recent Macmillan Inquiry shows the present cost to the industry for directors to be 0.48d. per ton of commer- cially disposable coal, as against 0.38d. in 1918. They might surely have done better for themselves had they conspired to " juggle with figures " on the lines of your correspondent's accusation ! I say nothing as to the propriety of such charges being made under the anonymity of initials. Even Comrade Cook, whose methods are identical with those of " A. S. B.,". has at least the courage to sign his name.—I am, Sir, &c., A. E. RITCHIE, Late Managing Director, Snowdown Colliery, Ltd. 57 Clarence Gate Gardens, London, N.W . 1.