HC Deb 15 December 1949 vol 470 cc2921-2

Lords Amendment: 'In page 3, line 3, at end insert: (7) Where any German enemy property, on or at any time after the third day of September, nineteen hundred and thirty-nine, belonged to, or was held or managed on behalf of, a German company, and it appears to the Board of Trade that the company was on the said day controlled, directly or indirectly, by a United Kingdom company, the Board may treat that property for the purposes of the last preceding subsection, to such extent as the Board think fit having regard to the extent of the interest of the United Kingdom company in the German company, as property to which the United Kingdom company would have been entitled but for the operation of the Trading with the Enemy Act, 1939, or any order made thereunder. In this subsection, the expression "German company" means a body incorporated in, or under the laws of, Germany, and the expression "United Kingdom company" means a body incorporated in, or under the laws of. the United Kingdom.

3.46 p.m.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Glenvil Hall)

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This Amendment implements an undertaking which I gave to the House when the Bill was passing through Committee. I think those who remember our Debate on that occasion will agree with me when I say that we have implemented to the full the undertaking which I then gave.

Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)

On a point of Order. A great many of us who are interested in what my right hon. Friend has to say are quite unable to hear a word of it. I wonder whether anything could be done about it.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

I had moved that we should agree with the Lords in this Amendment and I went on to say that this implements to the full the undertaking I gave when this Bill passed through Committee—an undertaking that I would have another look at the position and, if it were possible to do, at any rate partially, what the Opposition then asked me to do, that I would see that the necessary Amendment was made in another place. I do not want to labour this matter because I think those who are interested in it are fully cognisant of what we are doing.

Mr. Assheton (City of London)

I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for what he has said. At an earlier stage we asked him to look into this matter and the Amendment which has come back from their Lordships' House, I think, meets the point which we raised. I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman one question: does the word "property" in the first line of the Amendment include debts of all kinds?

Mr. Glenvil Hall

Yes, it does, although perhaps I should remind the House that when we dealt with this matter in Committee I drew a distinction between trade debts and capital assets. I indicated that we felt that trade debts should not be included. However, in my view, and I think in the general view of the House, capital assets come into a different category. This Amendment is in the widest terms and the expression "German enemy property" would cover trade debts if, in the view of the President of the Board of Trade at the time, it was felt desirable that at any rate some debts of this kind should be included.

Question put, and agreed to.

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