HC Deb 06 December 1932 vol 272 cc1572-4

10.46 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 89, line 3, at the end to insert the words: () in respect of the issue of any transport stock by the board under Sub-section (1) of Section eighty-eight of this Act; or () in respect of the distribution under any scheme made, or deemed to be made, under Section eighty-eight of this Act of any assets of the Underground Electric Railway Company of London, Limited (in this Section referred to as "the Underground Company "), or of the London and Suburban Traction Company, Limited, amongst the holders of stocks (which expression in this Section includes debenture stocks) or shares of those companies, or on any instrument made for the purposes of, or in connection with, the transfer of the whole or any part of the assets of the Underground Company to any company formed under any such scheme as aforesaid with a view to the acquisition of those assets, or in respect of so much of the nominal share and loan capital of such last-mentioned company as constitutes the consideration for, and as is equivalent to, the value of the assets so transferred or any instrument securing such loan ca pit al. The first part of the Amendment is to provide for exemption from stamp duty the exchange of this transport stock for a certain amount of "A" and "C" stock, to which the Underground Holding Company become entitled under the settlement with the Underground lines. This part of the exchange was part of the settlement arrived at in connection with the financial arrangement. The second part of the Amendment is consequential on the proposed inclusion in Clause 88 of provisions with regard to the Underground Holding Company setting up a new company in connection with this liquidation.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: In page 89, line 5, leave out from the word "of," to the first word "and," in line 8, and insert instead thereof the words, "Stocks or shares of the Underground Company."

In line 28, at the end, insert the words: or () in respect of the creation, division, or vesting of Metropolitan Railway Assented Stock (in this paragraph referred to as Assented Stock '), or in respect of the transfer to the trustees mentioned in Section (Provisions as to certain stocks of the Metropolitan Railway Company) of this Act of Metropolitan Consolidated Stock, or in respect of the transfer by such trustees of Transport C Stock to those holders of Assented Stock who exercise the option of exchanging their Assented Stock for Transport C Stock, or in respect of the transfer by such trustees of Transport C Stock to holders of Assented Stock pursuant to Sub-section (16) of the said Section, or in respect of the trust deed mentioned in the said Section. In line 32, after the word "part," insert the word "transferred."—[The Attorney-General.]

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

10.48 p.m.


There is one point I wish to raise—a point of principle. This is a semi-public undertaking and it is to be made free of certain taxation in the form of stamp duties. I remember when a large rationalised undertaking came into being some years ago, Imperial Chemical Industries, that very large payments in respect of stamp duties were involved, and it was partly in consequence of the heavy burden cast on that company that the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) who was then Chancellor of the Exchequer, proposed in the Finance Bill of the following year a new provision in regard to stamp duties in connection with rationalisation. It seems to me to be the right thing to do. You do not want to impose an undue penally in connection with an amalgamation which may be regarded as being in the general public interest. Here we are bringing about, whether it is for good or for bad does not matter, a great rationalisation, and because it is a semi-State enterprise it is being given conditions of taxation more favourable than if it was a purely private enterprise. It is an unfair discrimination in favour of State enterprise as against private enterprise. A State enterprise ought to bear its fair share of taxation in exactly the same way as a private enterprise, and this form of discrimination is unfair. It may be that the Attorney-General can give us sound reasons why this should be done, but superficially I do not see any reason why this combination should be treated more favourably than the Imperial Chemical Industries would have been treated if their amalgamation had taken place after the Finance Act of, I think it was, 1928.

10.50 p.m.


I really do not know what the hon. Member means by State enterprise. This is not State enterprise, but a body akin to the Port of London Authority. We all know that when Parliament puts into an Act of Parliament certain arrangements which necessitate the formation of companies which would involve the payment of Stamp Ditties, the payment is not enforced but where the undertakings for their own private purposes form companies of course the Stamp Duty is payable. It would be quite unfair to compel people to come into a unification scheme of this sort and bear expenditure due to the payment of Stamp Duty. That is the difference between the two cases.