§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, he rose to ask leave to introduce a Bill, which was very simple in its character, and consisted of three clauses, applicable to India. The first of these had reference to Indian Stock, of which a great amount was held in this country, and it had become a question whether, when the holders died, their legal representatives were not bound to take out probate in India as well as in England. Such a proceeding would, of course, be very inconvenient to the parties; and the object of the Bill was to declare that probate, if taken out in this country, should be deemed sufficient. A similar law had been passed some years ago with reference to Scotch and Irish railway stock falling into the hands of persons in this country, and great benefit had been experienced from that Act. The next provision of the Bill which he proposed was one by which the necessity of sending bonds to the India House to be examined and registered would be obviated. At present they were passed from hand to hand, and great inconvenience and delay were thus occasioned. Under the new method of transfer which it was intended to establish it was expected that the character of the stock would be improved. The provision would entail a small expense on the revenue of this country, but not more than £90. By the third clause he proposed to extend the powers taken by the Act of last Session to Indian Bonds; this would render them repayable in this country, if the payment were desired. The powers taken by the Act of last year had proved most successful.
§ MR. BAILLIE
observed that the Law of Property and Trustees' Relief Act of last Session contained a clause empowering trustees to invest trust-money in India Stock, but when an application was made to the Lord Chancellor to give authority for trust-money to be so invested he declined to do so, upon the ground that the Act was passed just at the close of the Session, and that the clause was introduced at the last moment, contrary to the wish of the promoter of the Bill, who had ex- 239 pressed his intention to bring in a Bill this Session to repeal that clause. He wished to ask the right hon. Baronet whether the Government intended to have that clause repealed, because, as it appeared to him, such a clause looked very much like taking the first step towards making this country responsible for the Indian loan, which was very objectionable.
§ MR. CRAWFORD
asked, whether the effect of the Bill proposed by the right hon. Secretary for India would be that parties could take out probate of wills either in this country or in India?
§ MR. MALINS
said, he wished to correct a mistake into which his hon. Friend (Mr. Baillie) had fallen. No Lord Chancellor would have refused to administer the law according to an Act of Parliament because it happened to have been passed at the close of the Session. In the case referred to nothing more was decided than that the stock, authority to purchase which was applied for, did not fall within the definition contained in the clause in the Trustees Relief Act. He hoped the Government would be very cautious how it pledged itself to repeal the provisions of the Act; he believed it a wise one. It was the duty of trustees to manage the affairs of their wards, as prudent men manage their own; and he could not imagine anything more absurd than a law compelling men who were continually investing their own money in Indian Stock to buy any trust money into the Three-and-a-half per Cents. As to the power given by the Trustees Relief Act being the first step towards obliging this country to adopt the liabilities of India, he could not see what connection it had with them. Indian Stock was secured on Indian revenue alone, and if that failed parties purchasing such securities would only have their own want of foresight to blame; but that they could consider the revenue of this country bound to make up any loss he could not understand.
§ MR. GREGSON
said, he wished to know why the powers of the Bill proposed by the Secretary for India were extended to some kinds of Indian securities and not to others. Why, for instance, were they not extended to the Rupee Loan?
§ MR. AYRTON
said, the object of the Bill, as he understood it, was a very necessary and simple one. The Government of India issued promissory notes, which constituted the public debt there. The interest of those notes was formerly payable in some part of India, but within the 240 last year it had been made payable in this country, so that in one sense the property was Indian, and in another it was English. In order to get rid of that anomaly the right hon. Gentleman (Sir C. Wood) proposed to make notes, so circumstanced, subject to probate in England. There could be no reasonable objection to that, and he (Mr. Ayrton) thought the Bill would prove a very useful one.
§ MR. ARTHUR MILLS
said, he considered it of great importance that no misapprehension should be permitted to exist as to the nature of the securities in Indian loans, which were not of the same nature as Indian Stock. From the fact that the machinery of the Bank of England was used in regard to both, great misapprehension had arisen in the public mind as to the nature of the securities. It would be a great misfortune if Parliament had not made up its mind whether it would or not give a material guarantee in regard to the securities for the Indian loan—that a misapprehension should exist. He did not wish to express a premature opinion upon the Bill, but he certainly thought that, with respect to the Act of last Session, the nature and value of the securities should be clearly defined.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, he apprehended there could not be the slightest question as to the construction of the Act of last year. The Lord Chancellor had held that the recently created Indian Stock did not come under the same denomination as the original Indian Stock. He decided that the expression used in the Act of last Session, applied to the old Stock of the East India Company, and not to Indian loans. The Government had no intention at present of interfering with that Act. The sole object of the Bill he (Sir C. Wood) now proposed was to relieve the executors or trustees of the holders of East India Stock from the necessity of taking out probate in India.
§ Leave given.
§ Bill to regulate Probate and Administration with respect to certain Indian Government Securities; to repeal certain Stamp Duties; and to extend the operation of the Act of the twenty-second and twenty-third years of Victoria, chapter thirty-nine, to Indian Bonds, ordered to be brought in by Sir CHARLES WOOD and Mr. BARING.
§ Bill presented and read 1°.