HC Deb 07 August 1916 vol 85 cc757-9

Order for second reading read.


I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a second time."

The object of this Bill is to get rid of a small technical difficulty which arises under Section 58 of the Finance Act of this year with regard to the issue of 5 per cent. Exchequer Bonds. These Bonds are repayable on the 5th October, 1921, and are at present being issued under the powers conferred by the War Loan 'Act, 1915. The borrowing powers under this Act are almost exhausted and will be quite exhausted in a very short time. It is, therefore, contemplated to continue the issue of these bonds under the powers conferred by the Finance Act. Section 58 of the Finance Act provides that

"any securities issued under this Section shall be repaid or redeemed not later than five years after the date on which they are issued."

It therefore follows that there has been left a gap of a few weeks during which it would not be possible to issue Exchequer Bonds of the same series. After 5th October it will be possible to issue Exchequer Bonds repayable on the 5th October, 1921. So long as we had powers under the War Loan Act, 1915, we could issue Exchequer Bonds repayable on that date, but between the present date and the 5th October, 1916, we should not, under Section 58 of the Finance Act, 1916, have the power to issue Exchequer Bonds repayable on the 5th October, 1921. It is desirable that we should not create a fresh series for this short period and, therefore, I think the House will agree that I am right in describing this as a small technical difficulty. All I am asking the House to do to-day is to give me the Second Reading of the Bill.


I want to enter a protest, before the Bill is read a second time, against the drafting of the Bill, The operative Clause of the Bill says, that "the proviso in Section fifty-eight of the Finance Act, 1916, shall not apply to Exchequer Bonds issued," etc. An ordinary Member of this House, if he pays any attention to the legislation that goes on, wants to go and find out what Section 58 of the Finance Act, 1916, is, but he cannot find it. It is not issued to Members.


I have got it.


You have got it! Then you have been more lucky than I have been. Why could we not have it stated in a note or in the Bill itself what this Section is? The proposal is a perfectly simple one. Why could not it be stated clearly and put into the Bill instead of having this legislation by reference? Legislation by reference is a vice which seems to be growing up under a bureaucracy where the principles of Parliament are withdrawn from it. The right hon. Member (Sir F. Banbury) knows well enough what has been going on during this last two years. They have been rushing things through like this without paying any attention to public opinion, and hoping that the ordinary Member of Parliament would not read the Bill and would not understand what- it meant when he did read it. We have had from the Financial Secretary to the Treasury an explanation of what the Bill is intended to do. That is more than we get from some Ministers, and I suppose we ought to be grateful for small mercies.


I do not see there is anything in the Bill. I have no objection to it. Even if the hon. and gallant Member had got the Act, as I managed to do, he would have been a little unhappy, because if he had found Section 58 of the Finance Act of 1916 he would find that it refers him to Section 1 of the War Loan Act, 1915.


I would suggest that in future there might be added a note as to the particular chapter referred to. "An amendment of the Finance Act, 1916," is rather confusing to people,, because the Statutes for 1916 have been bound up. These are not bound up in the particular copy.