§ (1) For the purposes of the definition of "holding company" in subsection (4) of section one hundred and eighty of the Road Traffic Act, 1960 (which relates to carriers' licences for the vehicles of a subsidiary), the Boards and the Holding Company shall each be deemed to be a company and the said section one hundred and eighty shall have effect accordingly.
§ (2) If on the vesting date a subsidiary of the Commission becomes a subsidiary of the Holding Company, any carriers' licence under Part IV of the Road Traffic Act, 1960, held by the Commission for a vehicle owned by the subsidiary shall thereafter have effect as if granted to the Holding Company; and for the purposes of section one hundred and eighty of the Road Traffic Act, 1960, the Holding Company shall be deemed to have made the application for the licence and to have signified to the licensing authority their desire that the section should have effect as respects the subsidiary.
§ (3) If as a result of a transaction effected by the Holding Company not more than twelve months after the vesting date, and at a time when the Holding Company hold carriers' licences under Part IV of the Road Traffic Act, 1960, for vehicles owned by a subsidiary, the subsidiary becomes a wholly-owned subsidiary of a company (hereinafter referred to as "the 302 company") which is itself a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Holding Company, any such licence for a vehicle then owned by the subsidiary shall thereafter have effect as if granted to the company; and for the purposes of section one hundred and eighty of the Road Traffic Act, 1960, the company shall be deemed to have made the application for the licence and to have signified to the licensing authority their desire that the section should have effect as respects the subsidiary.—[Mr. Hay.]
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Hay
I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.
Subsection (6) of Clause 31 provides, among other things, for the road haulage companies of the British Road Services which are set out in List A of Part IV of the Fourth Schedule—'that is to say, the first five companies shown at the foot of page 105 of the Bill—to be transferred to the new Transport Holding Company at vesting date. We have found, however, that because the carriers' licences relating to the road goods vehicles owned by these companies are registered in the name of the Commission and not in the names of the respective companies by which they are owned, these licences—as the Bill is drafted—would not be transferred to the Holding Company. They would be transferred to the Railways Board as a result of subsection (2) of Clause 31, which in its concluding words provides thatany property, rights and liabilities not falling to be transferred under any other provision in this Actshall be transferred to the Railways Board.
This is clearly wrong. It would mean that unless we made special provision, the vehicles belonging to the British Road Services road haulage companies would be transferred with those companies to the Holding Company, while their carriers' licences would go to the Railways Board. Carriers' licences are not capable of being transferred by ordinary commercial processes, not do they pass automatically with the ownership of the vehicles to which they relate.
To put this right, if the Bill were not amended, the Railways Board would have to apply to the licensing authority to effect the transfer of these licences to the Transport Holding Company. This would involve a good deal of work and 303 expense. The new Clause is therefore designed to deal with it.
Subsection (1) simply repeats what is contained in the Second Schedule at lines 9 to 15 on page 101. Now that we have a new Clause dealing with these matters, it is more convenient to cover this provision in the new Clause than to deal with it in the Second Schedule. A later Government Amendment in page 101 provides for its deletion from the Second Schedule.
The provision deems the statutory boards and the Holding Company each to be a holding company within the meaning of Section 180 of the Road Traffic Act, 1960. The effect of this is to enable the Transport Holding Company and the statutory boards, if they hold carriers' licences for road goods vehicles, to be able to switch vehicles and drivers from one part of their undertaking to another or from one subsidiary company to another to meet operational requirements.
Subsection (2) of the new Clause provides expressly that the carriers' licences attaching to the road goods vehicles owned by the subsidiary road haulage companies transferred at vesting date from the Commission to the Holding Company shall automatically be transferred with the vehicles. This overcomes the major difficulty which I have already explained.
Subsection (3) provides for another eventuality which I must explain. As I said in Committee, it may be that the new Transport Holding Company will not wish to operate the five B.R.S. haulage companies as separate companies reporting direct to the Holding Company board. The Transport Holding Company might well wish to establish as soon as possible after vesting date a new subsidiary road haulage holding company under which the five B.R.S. companies could be grouped and in which the shares of those companies would be vested
I must point out that certain other Amendments in Clause 75, page 81, lines 37. 39 and 44, and page 82, line 12, deal with the possibility of such a B.R.S. holding company being formed before vesting date by the Commission. For the purposes of the new Clause, however, I 304 am dealing with the possibility of such a separate holding company being formed by the Transport Holding Company after vesting date.
In order, in this case, to save the Transport Holding Company from the trouble and expense at the outset of having to make separate application to the licensing authority for the transfer of the B.R.S. vehicle carriers' licences, subsection (3) provides that these licences are automatically to pass to the subsidiary road haulage holding company, provided that it is set up within twelve months from vesting date and is wholly owned by the Transport Holding Company. This seems only fair if, by the operation of the Bill, the Transport Holding Company were to be saddled with a road haulage undertaking different from what it wished to have at the outset.
I think that briefly explains the new Clause and the circumstances under which we have come to do this. I shall be prepared to answer, as best I can, any questions that hon. Members may think fit, but I hope that the explanation that I have given may satisfy any doubts that they may have.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Clause read a Second time and added to the Bill.