HC Deb 09 December 1946 vol 431 cc873-6

9.15 p.m.

The Solicitor-General

I beg to move, in page 27, to leave out lines 44 to 46, and to insert: and includes—

  1. (a) any policy by which the payment of money is assured on death (except death by accident only) or the happening of any contingency dependent on human life; and
  2. (b) any policy securing the payment of an immediate annuity;
and the reference in this definition to the occurrence of a specified event which is certain to happen shall include the occurrence, which is certain to happen, of one of specified events none of which by itself is certain to happen. The definition of policies in the Clause is too narrow in that it does not include policies secured on contingencies which are virtually bound to happen, for example, contingencies such as the life of the particular individual. That is introduced by the first paragraph of the Amendment. Paragraph (b) deals with policies securing immediate annuities, which, as the definition stands at present, would not be included. It is really a drafting Amendment in that it simply enlarges the definition of policies, and brings within the purview of the definition policies which should clearly be included within it.

Amendment agreed to

Mr. Birch

I beg to move, in page 28, line 25, to leave out Subsection (2).

My purpose in moving this Amendment is to ascertain the actual meaning of the Subsection. I have read it several times and have also asked two King's counsel, not of my party, exactly what it means and, so far, I have not had a very satisfactory answer. It may be very simple, but I should like to have a simple answer. The Subsection is 200 words long without a full stop, on the principle we always have in Bills, that the more complicated the matter, the longer the sentence. I would like to know the exact significance of the words in brackets in the first line, "however worded". Does that mean however badly drafted? I should also like to know what is meant by "specified attribute as to residence or otherwise". A minute ago we were fortunate enough to have the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels) and the hon. Member for Thurrock (Mr. Solley) in the Committee and they, no doubt, would have explained it very lucidly, but as they are not here, it is left to the Solicitor-General. I hope he will not confine himself to saying that this provision will be readily understood in the commercial world?

The Solicitor-General

The object of the Subsection is simply this: Where an obligation rests upon an individual, but can only be discharged by himself if he can act jointly with some other person, then each of the two persons shall be deemed to be under the obligation. It enables the Treasury to prevent a species of evasion which otherwise would be quite easy if one person was able to say with regard to anything he was required to do that he could not do it except with the concurrence of some other person. If those two persons acting jointly can comply with the obligation, then each of them is under the obligation to do so, and each of them must do so. That is all the Subsection does. With regard to "specified attribute as to residence," that really means if he is resident in a particular place specified; if I may put it in rather loose and more colloquial language, if he has a particular residence qualification. That is translated into the more formal phrase "a specified attribute as to residence."

Mr. Birch

And "however worded"?

The Solicitor-General

Those words are simply introduced in order to make it perfectly clear that the Subsection applies to all parts of the Act. However the obligation is framed, if the wording which creates the obligation is such as to impose it upon persons who act jointly, whatever the phrase used, or the turn of expression, this Subsection is operative.

Mr. H. Strauss

I think my hon. Friend the Member for Flint (Mr. Birch) was entitled to protest, and I hope that on the Report stage the Government will not be too proud to strike out "otherwise" and put in "any other matter," which I think is what they mean.

Amendment negatived.

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

Mr. Eccles

May I ask where "unit trust scheme" comes into the Bill? I have read the Bill fairly carefully, and cannot find the phrase anywhere in the Bill. If so, why is it defined here?

The Solicitor-General

If the hon. Member will look about five lines further up the page, he will see it. Is he satisfied?

Mr. Eccles indicated assent.

Question put, and agreed to.

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