§ (1) The Treasury may provide for the establishment of a Post Office stock register (in this Act referred to as "the register"), and may direct any four and a half per cent War Loan Stock, 1925–1945, or any other stock issued in connection with any loan raised for the purposes of the present War, which is not inscribed in the names of individual holders in the books of the Bank of England or the Bank of Ireland, shall be inscribed in the register.
§ (2) The Treasury, in conjunction with the Postmaster-General, and in conjunction with the National Debt Commissioners so far as any regulations relate to those Commissioners, may make regulations with respect to the keeping of the register, and the stock required to be inscribed therein, and in particular with respect to:—
- (a) investments in and sales of any such stock and the receipt and payment of dividends thereon; and
- (b) the manner in which and the conditions subject to which stock may be transferred either from the name of one holder inscribed on the register to that of another, or from the register to the books of the Bank of England or the Bank of Ireland, and vice versâ and
- (c) the commissions and fees payable in respect of dealings in stock inscribed in the register; and
- (d) the maximum amount of stock which may be inscribed in the register in any one holding in any one year, or at any one time, and the exceptions which are to be allowed from any such limits in the case of friendly societies, trade unions, or other similar bodies.
§ (3) Regulations made under this Act may provide for the total amount of stock inscribed in the register being held by the National Debt Commissioners and inscribed in their names in the books of the Bank of England, and for the application, with such modifications as appear necessary or expedient, to stock inscribed in the register, or to bearer bonds issued under this Act, of any of the provisions of the National Debt Act, 1870, and of any Act regulation or warrant relating to savings banks, and may contain such consequential and supplemental provisions as appear necessary or expedient for giving full effect to the Regulations.
§ Mr. PETO
I beg to move, in Sub-section (2), paragraph (b), to leave out the word "another," and to insert instead thereof the words "any other person" ["or from the register"].
I have put down this Amendment because from information that reaches me that it has been made quite clear than what is necessary, if we are going to really popularise the investment of small sums, is that the investor shall feel that he has the best possible chance—I may put it even higher than that—that he has a certainty of being able to get out his money at any moment he may urgently need it. That is the feeling he has had in the past with regard to the Post Office Savings Bank. I would call the attention of the Committee to the fact that Sub-section (2) of Clause 1 is permissive. It provides that the Treasury in conjunction with the Postmaster-General may make regulations for certain things, and one of those things is:—
"the manner in which, and the conditions subject to which, stock may be transferred either from the name of one holder inscribed on the register to that of another, or from the register to the books of the Bank of England, or the Bank of Ireland, and vice versa."
That is a limitation of the discretion of the Treasury to transfer from one person who is a stockholder on the Post Office register to another person who is also a stockholder on that register. Therefore any person who wishes to get rid of his investment must, as I read the Sub-section, sell to another person on the same register. There are provisions in this Bill which show that it is contemplated in Clause 3, that—
"The interest on any stock inscribed in the register which does not exceed the 167 nominal amount of two hundred pounds shall be paid without deduction of Income Tax; but any such interest shall be accounted for and charged to Income Tax under the third case of Schedule D, subject, however, to any provisions of the Income Tax Acts with respect to exemptions or abatements."
Therefore it is contemplated in the Bill that persons who are chargeable with Income Tax may have a holding on this Post Office register and receive the interest free of Income Tax. I will give a concrete case which I have in my mind—
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. Montagu)
I propose to accept the Amendment
§ Mr. PETO
I am very much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for that information. I need not pursue that point further. I will only add the hope that the powers given to the Treasury to put in their regulations anything they like with regard to tranfers to the general register or anything else will be used. I am very glad to feel that any small investor will not have far to look in case he wants to invest in some other way, say a shop or a house, or anything else, but will find the nearest likely person who has the money to buy his little bit of stock, and will be able to get on with his other business. I beg to thank the right hon. Gentleman for accepting the Amendment.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
I hope the hon. Member will forgive me for interrupting him. I wanted to save his time and the time of the Committee. I quite agree that the Clause as drafted does bear the interpretation he put upon it, although it was not intended. My legal advisers inform me that it would be better if he would move his Amendment in the form to leave out the word "another," and to insert the words "any other person so inscribed or to be inscribed," the object of it being that we shall know what to do with the other person who has bought the stock.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Amendment made: In Sub-section (2), paragraph (d), leave out the word "another," and insert instead thereof the words "any other person so inscribed or to be inscribed"—[Mr. Peto].
§ Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.168
§ CLAUSE 2 (Issue through Post Office of Bearer Bonds) and CLAUSE 3 (Income Tax on Stock Inscribed in the Register) ordered to stand part of the Bill.