HC Deb 25 November 1914 vol 68 cc1189-92

  1. (1) The High Court or a judge thereof may, on the application in accordance with rules of Court of any person who appears to the Court to be interested or of the Custodian or of any Government Department, by order vest in the Custodian any property, real or personal (including any rights, whether legal or equitable, in or arising out of property real or personal) belonging to or held or managed for or on behalf of an enemy if the Court or the judge is satisfied that such vesting is expedient for the purposes of this Act, and may by the order confer on the Custodian such powers of selling, managing and otherwise dealing with the property as to the Court or judge may seem proper.
  2. (2) The Court or judge before making any order under this Section may direct that such notices (if any), whether by way 1190 of advertisement or otherwise, shall be given as the Court or judge may think fit.
  3. (3) A vesting order under this Section as respects property of any description shall be of the like purport and effect as a vesting order as respects property of the same description made under the Trustee Act, 1893.


I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), after the word "be" ["any person who appears to the Court to be interested"], to insert the words "a creditor of an enemy or entitled to recover damages against an enemy, or to be interested in."

I move this Amendment and later on I will move the two others standing in my name. These Amendments would meet the case which has been referred to so often in the course of these Debates, that is the case of a creditor who has a claim against an alien who has property in this country. What caused me to put down these Amendments was the case which had been referred to of a firm of iron ore merchants who had a claim against Messrs. Krupp's. There was an unquestioned claim for £27,000 or £28,000 against Messrs. Krupp's. Messrs. Krupp's have a block of shares in this country in a company which is very valuable. The creditors had no means of suing Messrs. Krupp's because they could not serve a writ. They had means of preventing Messrs. Krupp's from dealing with this firm. We tried first of all to issue a writ which we could not serve; then we applied for a receiver upon this particular property. The Court of Appeal said we could not appoint a receiver because we had not the defendants here, and they held that the action was not properly constituted. The claimants have an undoubted claim which Messrs. Krupp's could deal with. Messrs. Krupp's could go to America and sell these shares in America quite easily, though they could not register them, and they could take the money received with them to Germany. The moment the War was over the neutral transferee would be entitled to register the transfer, and he would have a prior claim to anybody else. That would enable them to part with their property and prevent the English creditor getting paid his debt. The object of my Amendment is to enable the creditor in such a case to come within this Section 4, and by adding the words you would enable the creditor entitled to recover damages against an enemy to get the benefit of this Clause.


The hon. and learned Gentleman seems to me to be quite right. Taking his three Amendments together they cover more ground than the proposal I put down. So I do not propose to move my Amendment, and I shall advise the Committee to accept the Amendments of the hon. and learned Gentleman, and the result will be to extend very usefully the operations of this Clause.

Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In Subsection (1), leave out the words "interested or of the Custodian or of any Government Department by order vest in the Custodian."—[Mr. H. Terrell.]


I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), after the word "order" ["by order vest in the Custodian"], to insert the words "subject to the rights of encumbrancers and creditors in the United Kingdom not enemies." As the Clause stands at present you would part with the property without any reference to encumbrancers.


With the spirit of this Amendment everybody will agree, but I do not think it is necessary to put it in. The Clause is so framed as to adjust itself to the circumstances of different cases. I should think that in most cases where title deeds are in somebody else's hands they probably would never think of making any order at all, because it was quite safe.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Further Amendment made: In Subsection (1), after the word "enemy" ["of an enemy if the Court or the judge is satisfied"], insert the words or on the application of the Custodian or any Government Department by order vest in the Custodian any such real or personal property as aforesaid."—[Mr. H. Terrell.]


I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), after the word "selling" ["such powers of selling, managing, and otherwise"], to insert the words "collecting the debts."

6.0. P.M.


I am afraid that this Amendment is an impracticable proposition. How can the hon. Member suggest that the Custodian should go and collect the debts and take legal proceedings?


The Committee has already disposed of this question, and my remark also applies to the succeeding Amendments.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.