HC Deb 31 December 1916 vol 88 cc1793-4

Order for Second Reading read.

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


I should like to ask with regard to Clause 1, if the right hon. Gentleman will state approximately the amount of the Loan. In Sub-section (4), in which reference is made to raising money, either in British or in other currency, does that mean that the Government has taken powers to issue a dollar loan as well as a sterling loan? In the next Sub-section, which indemnifies corporations which under Statute or under their articles of association are at present prohibited from assisting, I understand the Sub-section now to give them powers to make such investment. On the face of it the interference with private contracts seems a dangerous precedent, but we live in exceptional times and the object of the Government is to override the Statute and articles of association of companies and intervene without allowing companies and institutions to have the power of calling a meeting of their shareholders to get the necessary right to make such investment. My attention was drawn to another point by my hon. Friend (Mr. Holt) with reference to this Clause. It is, perhaps, a matter of drafting. It indemnifies these institutions which are at present prohibited from investing, but does it not also place them in rather an awkward position when the period of indemnification has transpired, because it specifically says there is to be indemnity for holding? If they make a purchase of the Loan and the period has expired, if they should want to liquidate their holding, would they come under any ban or would they come under the law? The point was raised by the hon. Member for Hexham. I am trying to explain what he said. Under this Clause, if an institution invests in this Loan will it be liable, because it still holds a loan after the period has expired, to the common law?


May I try to explain this Clause? So far as the power to do this is concerned, and so far as the law as it now applies stands, it does not matter whether the loan period has elapsed or not. The only meaning of the words, as I understand, is to make sure that the corporation can exercise this power. The contingency feared by the hon. Member cannot arise.


I am glad to have the assurance of the right hon. Gentleman. I have endeavoured to explain the point of the hon. Member for Hexham, and I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his courtesy.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Resolved, "That this House will immediately resolve itself into Committee on the Bill."—[Mr. J. Hope.]

Bill accordingly considered in Committee, and reported without amendment; read the third time, and passed.