HC Deb 25 November 1914 vol 68 cc1257-8

Order for Second Heading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."

The SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir S. Buckmaster)

This is a small Bill designed to remove a difficulty in which men engaged on active service find themselves placed if they happen to be trustees. At the present time the law relating to the execution of trusts is complicated by two facts. One is that no body of trustees can delegate their powers. They must all act together or they cannot act at all. The second is that no trustee has any right to delegate his discretion to a third person. It follows, therefore, that if a man be a trustee and he be engaged on active service, the whole of the execution of the trust must be suspended, or, at any rate, seriously interfered with while, this one trustee is away. This Bill is designed to remove that difficulty by providing that, for the period which is measured by the duration of the War and one month thereafter, a trustee who is engaged on active service, may act through a deputy, whom he appoints under Power of Attorney, which has to be attested by one or more witnesses. I am informed by people, who have the management of large family estates in their hands, that the need for this Bill has been already felt, and unless we pass it, a man who goes on active service must either resign his trusteeship or be rendered liable to have another trustee appointed in his place. Therefore this Bill should be passed in order to enable the execution of trusts to be done. I do not think it is necessary that I should take the House in detail through the Clauses. The only important matter is that active service is defined in Clause 1, Sub-section (2), as being not merely active service as a member of the Naval or Military Forces, but also the service of man who are engaged in the work of the British Red Cross Society, or St. John's Ambulance Association, or who happen to be prisoners interned in an enemy country. Finally, there is provision in Clause 3 which states that the same powers may be exercised by a man who is not engaged in war service but who for any period is abroad for a reason in connection with the War. That is intended to cover the cases of people who, not being engaged in active service, have had their movements suspended in Germany during the War, for of course the same considerations affect them as affect those engaged in active operations in the field. I trust that the House will allow me to take the Bill now.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read a second time, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House for To-morrow.—[Mr. Gulland.]