22 MARCH 1946, Page 2

From its first appearance in January the Investment (Control and

Guarantees) Bill was criticised as a measure better fitted to strengthen the Treasury's grip on the City of London than to encourage capital expansion. It is a short Bill followed by a long schedule of penalties for breach of its provisions. The first draft Order under the Bill also consists largely of prohibitions. But nothing has more justifiably called for censure than Clause 2 of the Schedule, which authorises the issue of search warrants enabling the police to enter the premises of suspected offenders, to take possession of documents and to use force if necessary. The clause shows a similar spirit to that which emerged in the Committee sessions when the issue of bonus shares was described as a " racket." Such unjustifiable generalisations called forth hardly more justifiable accusations from the Opposition that this measure represents the introduction of a police state. But coat trailing by either side does not help. The plain fact is that there is nothing in the clause to protect peaceful and honest citizens from unwarranted interference. Its uses are not sufficiently obvious to outweigh the dangers of its misuse.