HC Deb 26 July 1918 vol 108 cc2172-4

In any case where the Board of Trade have before the passing of this Act made, or hereafter made, an Order under the Trading With the Enemy (Amendment) Act, 1916 (in this Act referred to as the principal Act), requiring the business of a company to be wound up, the Board may make an Order requiring the company to be wound up and appointing a liquidator to conduct the winding-up; and on the making of such an Order the company shall be wound up as if it had on the date of the Order passed a special resolution for voluntary winding-up and had appointed as liquidator the person named as liquidator in the Order; and the provisions of the Companies (Consolidation) Act, 1908, shall apply accordingly subject to the modifications set forth in the Schedule to this Act.


I beg to move, after the word "company" ["business of the company to be wound up"], to insert the words "or individual."

This Bill deals with the winding up and liquidation of banking businesses, but I submit that it is necessary that we insert the words in my Amendment, and I think a mistake has been made in omitting them from the Clause. Of course, I do not for a moment say that a banking business should not be conducted by an individual. In mediaeval times Shylock undoubtedly conducted a banking business, in one small room. Nowadays we still have Shylock, but he is not content with carrying on his business in one small room or two small rooms. He has a place with plate-glass windows, and calls himself the "Universal Discounting Company," or something similar; but his is really a one-man business, though it may be called a company, that company consisting of his mother-in-law, a brother-in-law, the office boy, or the stenographer, perhaps, as shareholders. If he thought he could escape the meshes of this Bill by turning himself back from a bogus company, of course he could do it quite easily. I do not want the modern Shylock to escape the meshes of the net, and, unless some such word as I suggest is inserted, he may escape. I have merely dealt with the case of bank businesses, but the Bill later on deals with all businesses, and with clubs and similar institutions. Perhaps the Government draftsman was rather hurried in drafting this Bill, and overlooked this proviso which is made in Clause 1 of the Non-Ferrous Metals Act, which says "that it shall not be lawful for any company, firm, or individual," etc. The words "firm or individual" have been omitted in the Bill, and, therefore, I move to insert the words "or individual." I notice that there is an Amendment on the Paper in the name of the hon. Member (Mr. Pennefather), who proposes to insert the words "person or firm," and, if that is thought better, I am willing to withdraw my Amendment in favour of my hon. Friend's.


I would like to draw attention to the fact that this Bill which we have before us is really based on the principal Act of 1916, the Trading With the Enemey (Amendment) Act, and I suggest that it would be much more convenient if in this Bill we followed, as far as possible, the actual phraseology used in the principal Act. In the very first Clause of the principal Act the words are "person, firm, or company." In the Bill before us the words "person or firm" have been left out. I believe that is an omission, unless I am mistaken and my hon. and gallant Friend is mistaken. The present Bill is to give extended powers, but they would not be applicable to the "person or firm." Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman can satisfy us on this point.

The PRESIDENT of the BOARD Of TRADE (Sir Albert Stanley)

I think I can satisfy the two hon. Members. There is no error in the drafting of this particular Clause, which is inserted to correct an obvious, not mistake, but omission in the principal Act. The object of this Clause is to give the Board of Trade power to wind up a company as distinguished from the business carried on by that company. We have in the principal Act ample power to deal with businesses carried on by firms or individuals, or companies, but we have not power to wind up a company which carries on a business, and that has to be done by application to the Court. It is to simplify procedure that this Bill seeks to remedy the omission. I can assure the hon. Member that we have ample power to deal with the particular point raised in this Amendment.


Of course, in view of the very definite assurance given by the President that the Board of Trade have ample power to wind up the business of a firm or individual just as the business of a company, I will not press the point.


I ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.