§ As amended, considered.
§ (6.4G.) SIR HORACE DAVEY (Stockton)
My right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton does not intend to move the new clause which stands in his name, and I beg to move an Amendment to Clanse 1, which also stands in his name. With the permission of the House, I propose to move, on the part of my right hon. Friend, a new sub-section. I propose to strike out Sub-section 2 of Clause 1, and to move a new sub-section. The sub-section which I propose to move provides, in the first place, that where-ever the paid-up capital of a company amounts to £;10,000, that then the jurisdiction shall be in the High Court, or in the Palatine Courts of Lancaster and Durham; and wherever the paid-up capital of the company falls short of £;10,000, in that case the jurisdiction will be in the County Court. With regard to the Stannary Courts, the clause reserves the jurisdiction of the Stannary Courts, except where a mining company is engaged in mining elsewhere than in the jurisdiction of the Stannary Courts. Now, Sir, these clauses have been seen by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, and I have reason to believe that they are accepted by the Government. I have stated the effect of them, and I do not know that I need read them to the House.
Amendment proposed, in page 1, to omit Sub-section 2, and instead thereof, to insert the following:—
(2.) Where the amount of the capital of a company paid up or credited as paid up exceeds ton thousand pounds, a petition to wind up the Company or to continue the winding up of the company under the supervision of the court shall be presented to the High Court unless the registered office of the company is situate within
the jurisdiction of either of the palatine courts aforesaid, in which case the petition may be presented either to the High Court or to the palatine court within the jurisdiction of which the registered office of the company is situate.
(3.) Where the amount of the capital of a company paid up or credited as paid up does not exceed ten thousand pounds, and the registered office of the company is situate within the jurisdiction of a county court having jurisdiction under this Act, a petition to wind up the company or to continue the winding up of the company under the supervision of the court shall be presented to that county court.
(4.) Provided that where a company is formed for working mines within the Stannaries and it is not shown to be actually working mines beyond the limits of the Stannaries, or to be engaged in any other undertaking beyond the be limits, or to have entered into a contract for such working or undertaking, a petition to wind up the company or to continue the winding up of the company under the supervision of the court shall be presented to the Stannaries court whatever may be the amount of the capital of the company and wherever the registered office of the company is situate."—(Sir Horace Davey.)
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Other Amendments made.
§ Clause 5.
§ Amendment moved, in page 4, line 4, after the word "himself," insert "apply to the Court to."—(Mr. Horace Davey.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
(7.2.) THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir R, WEBSTER,) Isle of Wight
The hon. and learned Gentleman will, I think, see that the words I propose, to carry out his suggestion, read better than those he has submitted. They are "may apply to the Court, and the Court may on such application" appoint a special manager thereof to act until another liquidator is appointed, &c.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Amendment agreed to, in page 4, line 4, after the word "himself" insert "may apply to the Court, and the Court may on such application."—(The Attorney General)
§ Other Amendments agreed to.
§ SIR J. LUBBOCK (London University)
I beg to move to omit Clause 11, the object of which is to provide that in any of these liquidations all the moneys are to be paid over 844 to the Board of Trade, except under certain particular cases. The object of wise statesmanship ought always to be to cultivate principles of self-dependence, and cultivate principles of self-reliance, and not to teach the people to trust to the management of the Government. If this clause is passed it will take the conduct of their affairs out of the hands of those interested, and hand it over to the Board of Trade. I can not help thinking that those who have their money and interest at stake in the winding up of these Companies will be much more likely to do the work efficiently than the Board of Trade. We do not wish to make attacks on the Board of Trade. We recognise the ability and skill with which the affairs of the Department are carried on, and it is not from want of confidence in them, or any fear that they would in any way neglect their duty, that we are anxious to retain in the bands of those interested the conduct of their own affairs. I trust the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade will consent to the omission of the clause. I have no objection to the first sub-section, and will be quite satisfied to omit the others, if that would meet the views of the right hon. Baronet. I am afraid, however, he would not assent to this, and I, therefore, raise the whole question by moving to omit the clause.
§ Amendment moved, "To omit Clause 11."—(Sir J.Lubbock.)
§ Question proposed, "That Clause 11 stand part of the Bill."
§ *(7.18.) THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Sir M. HICKS BEACH,) Bristol, W.
I hope the hon. Baronet will not press the Amendment. This clause to which he takes exception is one of a series of clauses which are practically identical with similar clauses in the Bankruptcy Act of 1883. Their object is not to make money out of the winding-up of Companies or bankruptcy proceedings, but rather to obtain such financial control in each case as will enable improper proceedings to be detected by the official whom the Bill sets up—as the Bankruptcy Act sets up an official in Bankruptcy cases. I venture to say that if these clauses were omitted from the Bill, a most important check over these proceedings would be lost—a check which would be of advantage to the 845 public and to the creditors and contributories of the company, and to everyone concerned. I should be happy to confer with my right hon. Friend (Sir J. Lubbock) as to the particular way in which the Bill may be improved on this point, but the effect of passing his Amendment would be to strike out of the Bill one of its most important provisions.
§ (7.20.) MR. MURDOCH (Reading)
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will accept my right hon. Friend's offer.
§ SIR R. N. FOWLER (London)
After the suggestion made by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, I hope the right hon. Gentleman opposite will not press his Amendment.
§ *(7.21.) SIR J. LUBBOCK
I should be sorry to put the House to the trouble of a Division, for in the absence of most of the mercantile Members of the House, it is evident I should have the majority against me, and I will content myself, therefore, with making a protest against the adoption of the clause.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Other Amendments made.
§ *(7.31.) SIR M. HICKS BEACH
I may say it is my intention, in place of Rule 13 in Schedule 1, to insert the rule agreed to by the Standing Committee in reference to the Schedule of the Bankruptcy Bill. That Bill, for some reason or other, has not been printed, and I have not been able to get the exact words. I will, however, undertake that the Amendment shall be inserted in "another place." The same will be the case with regard to the rule as to special proxies.
§ Several verbal Amendments agreed to.
§ (7.34.) SIR H. DAVEY
In reference to the next Amendment I have on the Paper, I understand the right hon. Gentleman (Sir M. Hicks Beach) to have given us a promise that the Schedule shall be made to accord as regards proxies with the Schedule agreed to by the Committee upstairs with reference to the Bankruptcy Bill. I confess I should have liked to see that Schedule in print before we parted with this Bill, but, on the assurance of the Government, 846 I will not move my Amendment, and my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler) has authorised me to say he will not move his.
§ (7.35.) MR. WARMINGTON (Monmouth, W.)
I should like to know why the decision of the Committee on this Bill is to be overruled by the decision of the Standing Committee on the Bankruptcy Bill?
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
The fact is, that questions raised by the right hon. Gentleman opposite were not dealt with by the Committee on this Bill, and I do not think they were put forward as prominently before that Committee as before the Committee on the Bankruptcy Bill. Of course, there were Members of the Committee who, like the right hon. Gentleman the Member for London University (Sir J. Lubbock), wished to go further, and to insert an Amendment dealing generally with proxies. That was a proposal of so much importance, and calculated, in my opinion, to do so much harm, that I opposed it with all my power, and it was eventually negatived by the Committee. I do not propose in this Bill to go as far as that.
§ *(7.37.) SIR J. LUBBOCK
No doubt what has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman is quite accurate, but I think the House ought perhaps to know that the Grand Committee was evenly balanced on the question of special proxies, and I believe we should have carried the Amendment, but that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade stated that if we succeeded in doing so he should be compelled to oppose the Bill in the future, where upon one or two Members uprose and said, while they sympathised with the Amendment, they would not take a course which would lead the right hon. Gentleman to oppose the Bill as a whole. In spite of this, the Committee was still divided equally, and the matter was only decided by the casting vote of the Chairman, who stated that he gave it so that the matter might be reconsidered. I am not complaining in any way of the Government bringing the Bill on now, but it was not understood that the Bill would come on at the present time, and few of the mercantile 847 Members are present. We shall, however, have the same question before us on Wednesday on the Bankruptcy Bill, and if the House assents to the passage of the Bill now, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to insert in the present Bill, in "another place," whatever words the House on Wednesday may introduce into the corresponding section of the Bankruptcy Bill.
§ *(7.40.) SIR M. HICKS BEACH
I quite accept what the right hon. Gentleman says, namely, that on Wednesday on the Bankruptcy Bill this matter may be fully discussed. Whatever decision the House may arrive at with regard to it, it certainly shall be embodied in the other Bill as well as in this.
§ (7.41.) MR. COZENS-HARDY (Norfolk, N.)
I hope the right hon. Gentleman 'will allow the further consideration of the question to be adjourned until Wednesday.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
It could not be taken on Wednesday. It is essential, considering the character of this Bill, that it should as soon as possible go to another place.
§ *SIR J. LUBBOCK
I hope my hon. Friend will not press for an adjournment. It would serve no useful purpose to have two Debates on precisely the same question.
§ *(7.42.) MR. KIMBER (Wandsworth)
The difficulty might perhaps be met by allowing the Third Reading to stand over till Thursday.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."—(Sir M. Hicks Beach.)
§ (7.43.) SIR H. DAVEY
I wish to take this opportunity of thanking the right hon. Gentleman for the very fair way in which he has received the suggestions of hon. Members for amending the Bill.
§ MR. WARMINGTON
I must protest against the Third Reading of this Bill being taken now. The Grand Committee on Trade spent a day and a half on the consideration of that which, without a word, has been excluded from this Bill, namely, Sub-section 2 of Section 10. That was represented to us as the most 848 important part of the Bill, and yet, without a word, it has been cut out.
(7.44.) SIR R. WEBSTER
Some time was spent in discussing the subsection; but as the consideration of the Bill occupied eight or 10 days, it was not anything like a substantial part of the time. It having been pointed out that the sub-section only provided a different remedy, and it being doubtful whether it would be prudent to enlarge the remedy under the existing section of the Companies Act, it was thought better to omit the sub-section than to jeopardise the Bill.
§ (7.45.) MR. W. P. SINCLAIR (Falkirkirk, &c.)
Will the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade take care to see that we have on Monday a reprint of the Bankruptcy Bill? We have been placed in a very awkward position this evening for want of it.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
I shall be delighted to forward that matter in any way in my power. Of course, it does not rest with me, but with those great authorities—the printers.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read the third time, and passed.