§ 5.58 p.m.
§ Captain Crookshank
I beg to move,That leave be given to bring in a Bill to make temporary provision for rendering inscribed stocks transferable by instrument in writing, and for extending, in certain 499 circumstances arising from war, the time limited by the National Debt Act, 1870, for the payment of coupons.This is another machinery Measure and is designed to deal only with stock which is transferable by entry in the books or registers kept in Great Britain. The most important of these are British Government stocks held at the Bank of England and stocks held in a register under the Colonial Stock Act, 1877. Under the present law and practice there is a method of transfer which calls for the personal attendance of the transferor or someone authorised by him and known to the registrar of the Bank of England. It is common knowledge that certain branches of the Bank of England, including the Stock Transfer Department of the Bank of England, have removed to other parts of the country for the purpose of keeping the records safe and so forth. It would obviously be impossible in the new circumstances for transferors or even their nominees to go and do these transfers. The Bill provides that during the emergency any stock that is at present transferable in the books of the register kept in Great Britain shall not be transferable by that method, but instead by instrument in writing.
I should add one word on the payment of coupons, which is dealt with in Clause 2 of the Bill. Under Section 35 of the National Debt Act, 1870, it is provided that coupons payable by the Bank of England shall be payable at the chief establishment of the bank at the expiration of three clear days, and at any branch establishment which is more than 10 miles away from the chief establishment, at the expiration of five clear days from the day of presentation. If leave is given to bring in the Bill we propose to insert a Clause to provide that if payment is impossible by war conditions within those very short periods the period may be extended; but we make it quite clear, by words definitely inserted in the Bill, that such an extension would be permissible only if it were necessary,having regard to any interruption of communications or other physical conditions arising by reason of any war. …The change is therefore entirely limited to physical communication difficulties. If the House is good enough to accept this Motion, I hope it will also let us have the Second Reading of the Bill.
§ 6.2 p.m.
§ Mr. E. Smith
The Financial Secretary said that this is only a machinery Measure, but if I understand it correctly it is a very important machinery Measure, though I would qualify what I am intending to say with the statement that we have not had much opportunity of examining it, and consideration should be given to that fact. I wish to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Financial Secretary whether they consider this would be a suitable opportunity to make a statement on a particular point. The whole House will be aware that the ordinary people of this country in particular are very much concerned that we shall not have a repetition of the inflation which occurred in the last War. There was an inflationary period which affected the people of this country, and the State as a whole, very seriously, and the trade union movement expressed the view at the recent Trade Union Congress and other conferences that the Government ought to take steps to prevent any unnecessary inflation. I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether this will be a suitable occasion for him to make a statement on what steps the Government propose to take to deal with that question in order that public anxiety may be allayed.
§ Mr. Speaker
That would not be in order upon this Bill. Question,That leave be given to bring in a Bill to make temporary provision for rendering inscribed stocks transferable by instrument in writing, and for extending, in certain circumstances arising from war, the time limited by the National Debt Act, 1870, for the payment of coupons.
§ put, and agreed to.
§ Bill ordered to be brought in by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Captain Crookshank.