- (1) The Custodian shall, except so far as the Board of Trade or the High Court or a judge thereof may otherwise direct and subject to the provisions of the next succeeding Sub-section, hold any money paid to, and any property vested in, him under this Act until the termination of the present War, and shall thereafter deal with the same in such manner as His Majesty may by Order in Council direct.
- (2) The property held by the Custodian under this Act shall not be liable to be attached or otherwise taken in execution, but the Custodian may, if so authorised by an order of the High Court or a judge by whose order any property belonging to an enemy was vested in the Custodian under this Act, or of any Court in which judgment has been recovered against an enemy, pay out of the property paid to him in respect of that enemy any debts due by that enemy and specified in the order.
- (3) The receipt of the Custodian or any person duly authorised to sign receipts on his behalf for any sum paid to him under this Act shall be a good discharge to the person paying the same as against the person or body of persons in respect of whom the sum was paid to the Custodian.
§ Sir J. HARMOOD-BANNER
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), after the word "except," to insert the wordsas may be requisite for the purpose of discharging the liabilities to creditors in the United Kingdom (other than enemy creditors) and.I should like to know how the High Court will deal with this subject. My hon. Friend has dealt with the case of Krupp's. If you look at the "Times" law proceedings yesterday you will find that there is a similar case in which an application was made by the creditors to obtain money from a debtor, and the Court held that, in consequence of proper notices not having been given, that the proceedings could not 1193 go on, and the plaintiff's claim was disallowed. The object of this Amendment is that the Custodian should be able to pay to an English creditor money which he has collected from an alien debtor, and I think there should be no difficulty about it. The judges have placed many difficulties in the way up to the present time, and there has not been a chance of an English creditor being able to obtain money which may be collectable from an alien debtor. It is to be one of the main features of this Bill that an English creditor shall be able to get his money if there is money available from an enemy alien in this country.
We know that judges in this country have to be very impartial, and they look at these things in a very strict manner. Undoubtedly in a case like this it is very much against the English creditor getting his money, because the judges ask for this and that notice, and service on the debtor must be by registered post, and there are all sorts of forms really disqualifying the English creditor from getting his money to which he is properly entitled. For these reasons I would like the Attorney-General to tell us very clearly how he is going to carry out this object, so that there shall be no undue difficulties raised in regard to money which comes into the hands of the Custodian being ordered by the judges to be made payable to the English creditors. There have been so many difficulties in the Krupp case, and the case tried yesterday, against what apparently is the justice of the facts in which an English creditor should be entitled to his money, and we are most anxious to see a form in which the English creditor can get his claim made as complete as possible.
I suggest that this Amendment is entirely unnecessary, because Sub-section (2) of the Clause provides that:—The Custodian may if so authorised by an order of the High Court or a judge by whose order any property belonging to an enemy was vested in the Custodian under this Act …… pay out of the property paid to him in respect of that enemy any debts due by that enemy and specified in the order.Unless the hon. Member wishes to suggest a new kind of creditor, Sub-section (2) provides already for what he desires, and therefore his Amendment is quite unnecessary.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Sir CLIFFORD CORY
I beg to move to add, at the end of Sub-section (1), the following Sub-section:—(2) The Custodian shall keep a register of all property of enemies whose property has been transferred to or vested in him which shall be open to public inspection at all reasonable times free of charge.Any British subject, firm, or corporation having claims, whether liquidated or not, against enemies may serve a notice, giving particulars of such claims verified by statutory declaration, on the Custodian, and in such event he shall not distribute or deal with any property vested in him until such claims have been adjudicated on by the High Court.Notices of writs and other process served on the Custodian shall be deemed to be good service on the enemy.Before distributing or dealing with the property of enemies, the Custodian shall in all cases give at least three weeks' notice by public advertisement for British creditors to send in their claims to him, and all such creditors shall rank pari passu in any distribution.I have put down my proposals as one Sub-section for convenience. I understand that the Attorney-General is willing to accept the first paragraph of my Amendment, but with regard to the second paragraph I do not know whether he will accept it. I submit it is very desirable before the Custodian should distribute or deal with any property vested in him, firms that have claims should have power to serve a notice of their claims upon the Custodian. As to the third paragraph I know that at the present time there is great difficulty in serving writs upon the enemy. You have now to serve writs upon a registered company through the registered post or through the usual diplomatic channels. I know the present procedure, but I do not think the House of Commons is precluded from establishing a fresh legal procedure which I think is very desirable in this matter. I know the present legal method is a great bar to English creditors getting their debts paid, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will either accept this Amendment or draw up words which will better 1195 carry out my object. With regard to the fourth paragraph, I think it is a very fair proposal to put forward that British creditors should know what assets the Custodian has in hand.
§ Sir J. SIMON
The proposal of my hon. Friend consists really of two parts. He has already pointed out that for convenience he has put it down as one Amendment, although it really deals with two things. As regards the first paragraph providing that the Custodian shall keep a register of all property of enemies in his hands, that seems to me a very useful addition to the Bill. I think it is highly desirable that these who have claims should be able to ascertain, if they wish to do so, whether there is property belonging to their alien enemy debtor in the hands of the Custodian. I am going to suggest that while we accept the first paragraph of the hon. Baronet's proposal it is not convenient to put it in at this point. I think the proper place to insert it would be at the end of the Clause, and when we reach that point I shall either propose it myself or ask my hon. Friend to move another Sub-section. I think, however, that my hon. Friend's proposal ought to read in this way:—The Custodian shall keep a register of all property held by him under this Act, which shall be open to public inspection at all reasonable times, free of charge.If those words are put in as an additional Sub-section, I think they will carry out the object of my hon. Friend in regard to his first paragraph. The second paragraph of this Amendment is of equal, if not of more, importance, but I am sorry that I cannot recommend the Committee to accept it. The difficulty which we are trying to solve is one that a great many people have been trying to solve since this War began. It is that in times of peace trade goes on between the subjects of one country and the other. They make contracts without ever thinking that before they may be performed the common life of the two countries may be changed, and they may find themselves at war, and then a British subject may find himself in great difficulty, and, it may be, great embarassment, because he has given credit to his German debtor who may have gone away from this country, and may even be fighting against this country, although he may have left behind him here 1196 some assets or other stock or property. Naturally, the British creditor then says. "If I cannot serve a writ on my German debtor in the ordinary way, at any rate I see there is some property in this country which belongs to him and which would suit very well for paying my debt. Is there not somebody else upon whom I can serve the writ?" My hon. Friend's suggestion is: "Yes, serve it on the Public Trustee." I have made every effort to get over this difficulty. It is not merely a technical difficulty, but one of very great substance and importance. It is a difficulty under which many people in this country are labouring at this moment, and it is a particularly hard case, because it sometimes happens that a man who wants to recover so much from his German debtor is in the position that he has relied on getting in that debt in order to carry on some portion of his business, or with which to pay some debt that he himself owes. Therefore, whilst he is open to claims in our Courts against him, he has a great difficulty in collecting the money to which he was looking forward to meet those claims. I have avoided repeating in this House that which it has been my duty before the seven lords justices to urge about this matter. A great deal of curious, interesting, and instructive matter may be gathered if anybody cares to look into it in detail, but the fundamental point is this: I do not think it is possible to meet the claims of British creditors out of assets found here of German debtors unless the British creditors' claims are proved in some judicial way.
§ Sir C. CORY
Take the case of acceptances. I understand it does not require any proving; the acceptance is proof itself.
§ Sir J. SIMON
Let me just go on. All I am saying in general terms is that is the difficulty. I have thought about this subject a good deal, and that is the principle difficulty. The hon. Gentleman's Amendment would even include a man who thought he had been libelled. He could say, "I have a libel action against Schmidt. You have some property of Schmidt. Please give it me in settlement of my claim against him." That is one difficulty. The other difficulty is this: I do not think we ought to take too technical or strained a view about it, but still it is a difficulty. It is really absolutely essential for the doing of fair justice, and we all of us desire to do 1197 fair justice even to our enemies in time of war, and it is the most elementary of all principles that, before you decide against a man, you should do the utmost you can to give him an opportunity of saying what he has got to say. I am very far from saying, for my part, that when you are at war with Germany nobody should be able to establish a claim unless he gives affirmative proof positive that a solicitor's clerk has served a copy of the writ upon the defendant himself. That is legality run perfectly mad, but you really must have some sort of procedure by which you get as near it as you can. I have thought that it might sometimes be done by some substituted form of service or notice. There are, we are told, ways by which we can communicate between London and Berlin at this moment. The whole of this Trading with the Enemy Bill is being passed for the purpose of stopping such communications where they should not take place, so I suppose it can happen somehow.
I should like to see whether it is not possible, either by use of the existing machinery or by the making of some rules of Court—it is not a matter for me or, indeed, for the House, but for the judges, and I know they are considering it at this moment—so to mould and adjust our methods that we really can, at any rate, in some cases have these claims against German debtors dealt with and adjudged while the War is going on. It is not at all easy, because I do not think the Public Trustee, admirable and energetic official as he is, could reasonably be expected to be treated in the Courts as embodying, in his single person, all the alien enemies against whom any Britisher thinks he has got a claim. Something of that sort seems to me the proper way to deal with it, and I think it will have to be dealt with by altering the rules of Court. It is one of the great advantages of our common law—I hope the lawyers in the House will stand up for this—that it is a thing that can be adjusted and moulded in order to suit the special difficulties of the time. It is a great mistake to meet all difficulties by legislation, because when you have done it you find that it will not fit. You had better rely on our always expanding and modifying common law and the good sense of our judicial bench, who have it in their power to modify the rules in order to enable it to be done. I do not regard this at all as a trumpery matter. It raises a big and important question about which a 1198 great many people in this country are much exercised at the present time. I have racked my brains to see whether it is not possible to introduce into the Bill something which would cut the knot, and, having failed myself, I should be very glad indeed if somebody else could succeed, but I do not think the hon. Baronet has succeeded in this Amendment.
I shall be very glad to accept the first paragraph of the Amendment, but for the rest I think we must leave it to the judicial authorities applying our law or mould-it to put this thing right. The Committee will observe that we have provided in Sub-section (2) of Clause 5 that the property which the Custodian gets into his hands shall be available in two cases. It is available, first of all, where the High Court judge, by whose order the property of the enemy is left in the hands of the Custodian, directs that it shall be used to pay a debt, and it is also available to pay a debt by order of any Court in which judgment had been recovered against the enemy. I should like to see machinery in our Courts by which a British subject, or anybody who is entitled to avail himself of our Courts, may go there in time of war and start an action in which he is the plaintiff and an enemy debtor the defendant. If only you can find some method by which you can treat the defendant as having been fairly notified that the proceedings are going on and see that his case in some way or another is fairly represented, then you can prove your debt. It seems to me entirely right, when judgment is given and the judge, on the application of the plaintiff, so directs, that the assets of an alien enemy defendant in the hands of the Custodian shall be available to satisfy that judgment so far as it will go. That has the disadvantage that you are using lawyers and the Law Courts when some people would do it much more quickly, but it is not because I want to use the Law Courts and lawyers: it is because I cannot see any other way. That is the contribution which, after a good deal of consideration and deliberation, I have at this time to make on the subject.
§ Mr. DUKE
I hope that the Attorney-General will be able to consider further the second paragraph of the hon. Member's Amendment. Everybody who has taken pains to consider what is involved in a process at law must agree absolutely with the Attorney-General that you cannot have a real legal process without giving the defendant an opportunity of being 1199 heard. For my part, I do not go quite so far as the Attorney-General in thinking how you could make a pretence of the opposite party being heard. It is much more in the public interest that you should maintain the administration of justice than that you should snatch a temporary advantage at the cost of absent men, even although they are enemies, and for that reason I am not hopeful of the possibility which the Attorney-General in the public interest has indicated, that you may be able to devise means by which judgment would be possible, although you knew the defendant had not had a real opportunity of making his defence.
§ Sir J. SIMON
I should be very sorry to think that the hon. and learned Member and I took a different view. This is the sort of case I had in mind: As things stand at this moment, you cannot serve the writ on a manager in London who has been carrying on business for an individual German who is away in Germany, because our present rules do not permit it, though you might serve it on him if he were the manager for two Germans in partnership. That sort of thing seems to me to require to be revised and recast. While I quite agree that you must not pretend to do justice by affecting to give notice when you really do not do so, I am not myself disposed to think that the present rule is satisfactory, and I think you might give what is substantial notice.
§ Mr. DUKE
I did not suppose that I differed from the Attorney-General in spirit in this matter, because I cannot conceive that any man whose life has been spent in endeavouring to help, or even to hinder, the administration of justice would have a different view from that which the right hon. Gentleman has expressed. It is a question of mere procedure how notice should be brought to the defendant, and, if there is such a case as the Attorney-General mentioned, where there is a man in London who is competent to put forward a defence, we can trust our Courts, and even our enemies can trust our Courts, to see that justice is then proceeded with, and I do not think any reflection would fall upon the administration of justice in this country by that means. I respectfully endorse, if I may say so, the suggestion that we should make our procedure as flexible as need be to see that justice is not hindered for want of the means of justice; but, on the other hand, we should not make the process of justice 1200 lax so that injustices would be effected under the cover of justice. You ought not to endeavour to proceed to decide a contentious question against an absent enemy unless you take such means as would satisfy a disinterested tribunal that the enemy can in truth be heard by somebody who can competently put forward his case. I agree absolutely there are many cases not covered by our present rules where that could be done, and I hope my right hon. and learned Friend will induce those who are responsible for the rules of procedure in this country to so far relax them as to give effect to the simplicity of our common law on this subject. Beyond that he cannot perhaps go.
But with regard to the second paragraph of the hon. baronet's Amendment, I think there is a good deal to be said for it. The hon. Baronet proposes that where a firm or corporation have claims, they may serve notices and give particulars of the claims by statutory declaration. That is a matter of some solemnity. Then the Custodian will not be at liberty to relax his hold on the property until the claim has been disposed of. That is an intermediate mode of giving some satisfaction to the British creditor in the absence of his alien enemy debtor. I do not see any objection in principle to it. Many hon. Members are familiar with the process of attachment, an old process in common law, a process familiar in the City of London of so-called foreign attachment, whereby, where a claim was verified by oath, the creditor was entitled to have some security. It must be assumed that the absent enemy will deal honestly with the claim, and, if you do assume that, there is no hardship in providing, as is done by the second paragraph of the Amendment, that money that comes into the hands of the Custodian shall remain there until the claim upon it, of which notice has been given, has been discharged by due process of law, or got rid of by some other means. I venture to support the proposal of the hon. Member, at any rate in spirit, for a modification of the Clause, so as to give British creditors that limited degree of satisfaction in the difficult circumstances in which they are placed.
§ Mr. J. M. HENDERSON
I do not think this Amendment can possibly be accepted. How can you deal with the claims of British creditors on property held here until you have given the alien enemy creditors in Germany and Austria an opportunity of making their claims 1201 also? Let me put it in this way. A man in London carries on a business in Vienna. He has a very large stock there, which at present is locked up. He has creditors and debtors there, and he also has creditors and debtors here. The bulk of his stock is in Vienna, and there is sufficient to pay all the Viennese creditors while leaving the British creditors "up the pole." I venture to say the Courts of this country would never order property held here to be distributed only to the English creditors without the creditors in Germany and Austria first having an opportunity of putting forward their claims. If your idea is to take the property, and to leave the alien enemy creditor out of account altogether, then say so; but do not say you are trying to do justice, because it is not justice. It is simple confiscation, and, however much you may be justified in confiscating the property of the German Government, if you are going to deal with private individuals, you must not leave them out in the cold, any more than you would wish British creditors of property in Germany to be left out in the cold. There are a good many firms in this country which have been carrying on business in Germany and Austria, and have large properties there. If this principle is adopted there you will have the German creditors getting their money out of the estate, while British creditors, who are entitled to share the assets, will never get anything at all. That cannot be a proper principle to go upon.
With regard to the Statutory declaration there is this difficulty. I take it the Custodian would never part with any of the funds which have come into his possession until he is perfectly satisfied, and the Court also is satisfied, that he may fairly distribute the money among the creditors after the War. The making of an affidavit, therefore, puts him in no better position, and if you are going to proceed by judgment, that, of course, means preference, and I am sure the House of Commons would never wish any one creditor to have preference over another. You cannot distribute a man's property until you have heard what he has to say. We had a case in Court the other day. It was the case of a man in Brussels, and the Court declined to give judgment against him because he could not possibly be present to defend it. The idea of distributing a man's property without giving him the fullest opportunity of being heard, even to the extent of appealing, is not one which we can approve. 1202 Let us be just even towards our enemies, because we hope for justice from them. We hope that they will consider the claims of British creditors in the same way as we ought to consider their claims in this country. With regard to the register, I think there may be considerable difficulty about that. No doubt everybody has a right to see a company register, but with regard to a register affecting private persons I doubt very much whether we ought to give an opportunity of inspection to people who may have no interest in the matter beyond that of curiosity.
§ Sir J. SIMON
Nobody proposes to do that. The idea is to give an opportunity to English creditors of examining the register to ascertain whether or not there is any property belonging to an alien enemy debtor in the charge of the Custodian. There would be nothing to show anything about the constitution or business of the firm, and, unless you have some such register, I do not quite see how other parts of the Bill, such as Sub-section (2), Section 5, can work.
§ Mr. J. M. HENDERSON
That is a different thing altogether. I thought the proposal went a great deal further.
§ Sir J. HARMOOD-BANNER
I think there will be considerable disappointment in the country when it is found that what is being done in Germany, in the matter of the appointment of controllers to receive the property of alien firms, is not possible in this country. The Bill, as it stands, is somewhat emasculated. It may do a good deal by collecting these assets, but that is no consolation to the man to whom the money is due, as he apparently is to sit still and see the Public Trustee accumulate a vast pile of cash, of which, however, he is to get no share. Certainly it might be alleged that the Germans who have left this country have done so with intent to defeat or delay their creditors, and in that case you might secure the appointment of the Official Receiver as trustee and then proceed to distribute the money in this country in accordance with the bankruptcy law. There seems to me to be something in the nature of a poverty of mind on the part of the legal element in this House, seeing that they cannot devise a means of doing this justice to the English creditor. I repeat the English creditor is to sit still and see these sums of money accumulate, but he is to have no means of touching the cash. He will say, "It is 1203 all very nice for this money to be kept away from the Germans, but it is no good to me." He will be driven to the conclusion that this Bill is absolutely useless to him.
The Germans apparently have got over the difficulty. They will collect money in Germany and hand it over to German creditors, and there is apparently a great absence of talent in this House, in view of the failure to suggest some scheme or other that will enable exactly the same thing to be done in this country. I have suggested that the Bankruptcy Law would afford a means of doing this, if it can be alleged that the Germans have left the country with a view to defeat and delay their creditors. Then the Official Receiver will be able to distribute the money amongst the English creditors and in that way they will get something at any rate, but under this Bill they will absolutely get nothing at all. It is nice to say that English justice is so superior to every other justice in the world, but it is not nice for the man to whom a large sum of money is due, and who has rights which he is entitled to expect Parliament to enable him to exercise, but which he will not secure under this Bill.
§ Sir F. LOW
With regard to the observation made by the last speaker may I point out that this is a Bill to restrain trading with the enemy, and it is not intended as a measure to extend the Bankruptcy Acts or anything of that sort. Incidentally, of course, if we can protect ourselves to some extent, and still manage to do justice, so much the better. I think most of us must have been satisfied, as was the hon. and learned Member for Exeter (Mr. Duke), with the reasons which were given by the Attorney-General for dispensing with a great part of this Amendment. But at the same time the hon. and learned Member for Exeter did press upon the Committee, as it seemed to me with very considerable force, the expediency of at all events adopting the principle contained in the second paragraph. That paragraph has been, I think, somewhat mistakenly viewed by some of the speakers. It has nothing whatever to do with the question of distribution. It is a question of affording some sort of restraint on the fund at the suit of a person who may have claims against the German debtor; something in the nature of a caveat; something to prevent the Custodian of the fund from 1204 dealing with it without notice to the person who obtains this very moderate kind of security over the fund. As I understand this particular proposal is to receive consideration, I will not dwell further upon it.
§ Mr. HUME-WILLIAMS
I think I may venture to suggest to the hon. Member for the Everton Division of Liverpool (Sir J. Harmood-Banner) that the fears he has expressed are not entirely founded on the facts. He seems to be afraid that once the property reaches the hands of the Custodian the English creditor will not get anything at all. He appears to have overlooked Clause 5, Sub-section (2), which gives an English creditor the right to get judgment and, when he has a judgment, to get it paid out of the funds in the hands of the Custodian by the order either of the judge from whom he has obtained the judgment or an order of the High Court. I desire to add one word only to the argument put forward by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Exeter (Mr. Duke), and fortified by the last speaker, and to point out that the only hardship of that part of the Amendment of which they have spoken is to preserve property in the hands of the Custodian until judgment can be obtained. There is only one qualification I should like to add, which I think ought to be added, namely, that after this stay has been placed upon the property in the hands of the Custodian pending the obtaining of judgment, there should be power in somebody to set it aside if the creditor does not within a reasonable time take proceedings on his claim. Otherwise, he might have a stop put upon the property which would operate indefinitely, and the creditor instead of proceeding, as he ought to do under Clause 5, Sub-section (2), after getting his judgment, might not do anything at all. That might embarrass the Custodian in the distribution of the property. Leave should be given to the Custodian to apply to the High Court to set aside the stay.
§ Sir J. SIMON
May I suggest that possibly we may arrive at an understanding. I feel there is great force in the arguments that have been used about the second paragraph in the Amendment. It is agreed that the second paragraph could not possibly go in as it stands, and the right thing would therefore be that we should negative the Amendment now. I have already said I will put in definite 1205 words of the first paragraph a little lower down, and I will most certainly make it my duty at once, with the help of others who take an interest in this matter, to see if we cannot devise a form of words which will effect what the hon. Baronet desires.
§ Mr. SANDERSON
As it stands any creditor who goes to the Custodian is apparently, under this Amendment, to have power to retain the money belonging to any other creditor.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
I should like to say a word in support of my hon. Friend the Member for the Everton Division of Liverpool (Sir J. Harmood-Banner). I do not profess to be a lawyer in this House, but when I find the hon. and learned Member for Exeter (Mr. Duke) agreeing with the Attorney-General I am suspicious. I want to say to the Attorney-General that the commercial community agrees in substance with the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir C. Cory). The commercial community feels that some means must be found to enable men to get their just debts paid when the Germans have money in this country. It is not our fault that we are at war with Germany. It is not the fault of our commerce that Germans have gone to war. The Germans have gone to war with us. They are not treating us very well in Germany, and they are not treating commerce well in Belgium. We most earnestly say to the Attorney-General that as head of the law we look to him to find some means which will enable the commercial community to have their cases at least partially tried, and some means found by which they can get hold of German moneys in this country.
I do not suggest that the Amendment is exactly right, but I do suggest to the Attorney-General that all this talk about tht beauty of our common law and natural justice is all very well and all very right, but the commercial community wants some means to be found by which they can deal with German debtors who are not in this country. The Attorney-General has told us that he has been considering for some time past what means can be utilised for giving notice where writs cannot be served. I would press upon him that the 1206 judges with whom he is consulting should take this matter into their very earnest consideration, and should at the earliest possible moment bring out those rules for which people have been waiting during the last few weeks. Commercial business has been upset and restrained by lack of those rules. They do not know how they can issue writs or serve them. The Attorney-General says he has been thinking over the matter for weeks past. I would urge him in the most respectful manner to bring forward his conclusions.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
The judges are not in this House, but the Attorney-General is in communication with the judges himself, and I ask him to convey to His Majesty's judges the desire of the commercial community that those rules should be issued at the earliest possible moment.
§ Sir C. CORY
I am very grateful to the Attorney-General for accepting the first paragraph. I am very much indebted to the hon. and learned Member for Exeter (Mr. Duke) for putting my case with regard to paragraph two much better than I could have put it, and I am glad it has attained the desirable result with the Attorney-General. With regard to paragraph three, as to the service of writs, it has been stated by the Attorney-General and the hon. and learned Member for Exeter (Mr. Duke) that it would not be fair to serve a writ on the Custodian without giving the enemy a chance of defending. I share the view that it is necessary to uphold the justice of our Courts as much as anybody. I would, however, put this case: I understand that if an enemy company has a branch in this country which has been registered, although the offices may be closed, and the representatives and the management gone away, you can send a writ through the registered post to the address, and that that is good service. In that case the enemy has no better chance of defending himself in the Courts than if the service had been on the Custodian. A man who has gone away and left no registered address is equally in fault. I cannot see why you should not put in some words to enable a creditor to serve a writ on the Custodian, in which case it is doing no greater hardship than if the enemy had a registered address. If he does not comply with the law he ought to be fined. 1207 I hope the Attorney-General will take that point into consideration. In reply to the hon. Member for West Aberdeenshire (Mr. J. M. Henderson) who says that it is not right to distribute the funds without giving English creditors, perhaps in Vienna and other places, an opportunity of participating, I would point out that the last paragraph of my Amendment provides that notice should be given by public advertisement, so that all creditors shall rank pari passu. In the circumstances I ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. NIELD
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (2), to add the words "with or without interest thereon." These funds are accumulating interest in the hands of the Custodian, and it is therefore only fair that you should have power, in giving judgment, to enable interest to be paid on the debt. A creditor ought to get interest if the Court directs him to have it.
§ Sir J. SIMON
I understand the hon. and learned Gentleman's proposal is, that the sum which should be payable out of this fund should not be the amount for which judgment is given, but that amount with interest on it added.
§ Sir J. SIMON
That power is already possessed in a certain number of cases, but there are some cases where that power does not exist. I do not see why, because you are adopting this machinery in order to try and get people's debts paid, so far as may be, you should alter the general law relating to debts carrying interest in this particular case. I am afraid I cannot accept the Amendment.
§ Question, "That the words with or without interest thereon' be there inserted," put, and negatived.
Amendment made: At the end of the Clause, add the following new Subsection:—
(4) The Custodian shall keep a register of all property held by him under this Act, which register shall be open to public inspection at all reasonable times, free of charge."—[Sir C. Cory.]
§ Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.