HC Deb 26 June 1941 vol 372 cc1168-70

Order for Second Reading read.

The Solicitor-General (Sir William Jowitt)

I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."

This is a very simple Measure which I am sure will be accepted in all parts of the House. It is merely a Bill to enable trustees to insure goods or growing timber against war damage. It may seem odd, but none the less it is the fact, that there is some doubt at the present time whether or not trustees have that power. It is obviously desirable that that doubt should be removed and that trustees should be able to act in the same way as any prudent man would act in regard to his own property and insure, if they think it is a proper case for insurance. It is not compelling them to do anything, but it removes the doubt which has been expressed as to whether they have the right.

In one small matter we are supplementing the existing law. Members will see that this is a Bill "to remove doubts and supplement the power of trustees" and we have supplemented their power in this very simple way. If trustees have a pool of money in their hands which is derived from the sale of land, this Bill merely provides that they can, if they are so minded, devote money out of that pool to pay the premiums on capital outgoings under the War Damage Act. In that very small way we are supplementing the existing law and I cannot conceive of any objection from any quarter of the House. We are proposing to ask the House to put the Bill through all its stages to-day for the reason that the time in which insurance may be made expired on 15th June, but the Board of Trade has said that they will extend the time for a short period. It is, therefore, desirable to get these powers at once so that trustees who are prompt to take advantage of this removal of doubt under the existing law will have the advantage of the War Damage scheme.

Mr. Ammon (Camberwell, North)

The Solicitor-General has said that this is a small and simple Bill, but, in spite of our friendship, one is naturally doubtful of the right hon. and learned Gentleman when he appears here as a lawyer. I think he said that this Bill enables trustees to insure growing timber, but there is nothing in the Measure to indicate that this is so, unless it is a case of legislation by reference. I have not seen anything in the Bill to suggest that it is drawn so narrowly, and I should be glad if my right hon. and learned Friend would enlighten me on this matter.

The Solicitor-General

My hon. Friend will, see that Clause 1, Sub-section (1, a) of the Bill deals with any insurance which the Board of Trade are authorised to undertake under either of the schemes operated under Part II of the War Damage Act, 1941 The two schemes in Part 2 of the War Damage Act are the Business Scheme, which is compulsory, and the Private Chattels Scheme, which is optional. Trustees need not be authorised to go into the Business Scheme, because they are compelled to do so, and it follows that, being compelled to do a thing, they have a right to do it; but there is one exception, because all growing timber is treated, under Section 62 of the War Damage Act, as part of the Business Scheme, although it Is a voluntary matter. In that one respect the Business Scheme is voluntary, but in all other respects it is compulsory. What we have to do really is to extend the power of trustees in relation to the voluntary scheme. The insurance of growing timber is the only voluntary part of the Business Scheme; it is unnecessary to give trustees power to do that which they are bound to do, and, therefore, it is only necessary to give them power to go into the Business Scheme in regard to this particular matter.

Mr. Ammon

Am I to understand that growing timber is the only thing which comes under the voluntary scheme, and that all other things are covered? I ask this because my right hon. and learned Friend referred specifically to timber, and to timber only.

The Solicitor-General

There are two schemes, the Private Chattels Scheme, which is completely optional, and with regard to which we have to give trustees power to insure if they want to do so; and the Business Scheme, which is compulsory save in one small item, growing timber; and therefore, in regard to growing timber we have also to give trustees the right to insure, if they are so minded.

Question, "That the Bill be now read a Second time," put, and agreed to.

Bill read a Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House.—[Mr. Whiteley.]

Resolved, "That this House will immediately resolve itself into the said Committee."—[Mr. Whiteley.]

Bill accordingly considered in Committee; reported, without Amendment; read the Third time, and passed, without Amendment.