HC Deb 10 December 1919 vol 122 cc1281-2

Order for Second Reading read.


On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. May I ask whether you have considered the provisions of this Bill, of which the chief is that the London assets of a Russian bank should be appropriated for the benefit of creditors through the London branch, to the detriment of British and Russian creditors through the Russian headquarters and branches, and whether, in view of the fact that it raises issues of the gravest nature with regard to international relations, and sets a precedent for foreign retaliation which would inflict serious injury on other British subjects, you consider that this. is a proper subject to be dealt with in a private Bill?


I have read the Bill, and also consulted the Speaker's Counsel and the Chairman of Ways and Means, and I am of opinion that this Bill is properly introduced as a private Bill. It could not be introduced as a public Bill. It deals with a certain number of private interests, but not public interests. It may be a very proper thing to discuss the Bill from a public point of view; of that I say nothing. All I say is that it is properly introduced as a private Bill.


May I ask whether, if the Bill is correctly described here, having regard to its effect on international relations and to the fact that the whole balance of credit as between private creditors in this country and in Russia is involved, these are subjects which ought to be taken into consideration by the Government before they allow the Bill to proceed?


it is a matter which can be discussed in the public interest and in its bearings on public interests generally. I quite agree that that would be a perfectly relevant topic to discuss.


Is it the intention of the Government to give facilities for getting this Bill through?

The CHAIRMAN of WAYS and MEANS (Mr. Whitley)

I have no intention of giving this Bill facilities at this period of the Session. The question of public policy raised is not a matter for me, but for the Government Departments. My duty is confined to seeing that a Bill which, it is represented, has these points, does not slip through. Hon. Members may be assured that I shall take care that it does not, without adequate examination.

Second Reading deferred till Wednesday next.