HC Deb 08 May 1941 vol 371 cc1042-4
Mr. Douglas

I beg to move, in page 21, line 34, after "England," to insert: or has property situated in England. The object of this Amendment is to fill a gap which I believe exists in the Bill, relating to persons who may make use of the proposed relief. At present, the Bill applies only to persons who ordinarily reside in England, carry on business in England or are members of firms which do so. On the other hand, there are people who, but for the war, would have been ordinarily resident here, but who may have been evacuated to Scotland, Ireland or elsewhere. I know a number of such cases in which the only income arises from property here. Their only liabilities, apart from their day-to-day expenses, are in connection with that property. One can say that they have ceased to be ordinarily resident in England. I believe that this difficulty is solved for Income Tax purposes by such people being regarded as resident for the greater part of the year. It seems unfortunate that those people should, by accident, be deprived of the advantage of this Measure available in other cases.

I think it would be better if the provision in regard to businesses and firms were left out, and the Bill applied merely to individuals in respect of their private obligations. There might be more logic in it. As it is, there is an arbitrary distinction between people who have property here, because they are carrying on business, and who are entitled to this relief and other people who may be equally deserving, but who because they are not carrying on business, although their property and its liabilities are here, cannot do so. I hope that the Attorney-General will give a sympathetic consideration to removing this distinction from the Bill.

The Attorney-General

I hope that I shall consider this Amendment and all others sympathetically, but I am not sure that I can consider this Amendment a good one. The proper jurisdiction, or rather the most convenient, in cases of this kind, is the jurisdiction of the place where the majority of the creditors are. We want to try to get all these people to agree, and we have done our best to arrive at that result by taking those who are either ordinarily resident here or have business here. "Ordinary residence" will probably mean the place where the rent liability arises, and where the tradesmen will present their bills. Of course, we cannot satisfy everybody, but I think the arrangement which we propose will satisfy the maximum number of creditors. Obviously if a man is carrying on business in a place, his creditors will be likely to be found there also. For a man who is fortunate enough to live in Scotland and to have his business in England, we thought it right that he ought to come under the Bill, because this is the place where his affairs would have to be wound up. I can relieve my hon. Friend of anxiety on one point. Perhaps he would look at Sub-section (1) of this Clause. I think those words meet one of the points which he made. Apart from that, if we accepted the Amendment, it would produce the result that a man living in Scotland who happened to have some small piece of property in England would not come under the Bill, and the creditors in England of a debtor in Scotland could not start proceedings.

Mr. Douglas

In view of the statement by the Attorney-General I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment, merely adding that I would like the right hon. and learned Gentleman to look at this matter again, because I think there are still difficulties which have to be solved.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment made: In page 22, line 7, leave out "this Part," and insert "Section six and Section seven."—[The Attorney-General.]

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 24 ordered to stand part of the Bill.