HC Deb 17 October 1973 vol 861 cc345-75

10.29 p.m.

The Solicitor-General (Sir Michael Havers)

I beg to move, That the Southern Rhodesia (Distribution of Creditors) Order 1973 (S.I., 1973, No. 1226). a copy of which was laid before this House on 17th July, be approved. The House will recall that on 19th April my hon. Friend the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs said that Her Majesty's Government would prepare an Order in Council to deal with the problem arising from claims by holders of Southern Rhodesian Government stocks. Before dealing with the order itself, I should remind the House of the background to the problem and why the Government thought legislation was necessary.

This is a problem, like so many others, which, regrettably, stems from the unilateral declaration of independence. The Government of Southern Rhodesia before UDI made a number of issues of stock in London, registered under the Colonial Stocks Acts. Since UDI, the registrars of the stocks in this country have not been provided with funds to service those stocks. The total amount of arrears, that is, interest and redemption, is in the region of £53 million. The responsibility for meeting the payments on these stocks is that of the issuing Government. United Kingdom funds—I stress this—are not liable.

Last October, the High Court decided that it was open to Mr. Henry Franklin, a holder of some of the stock I have mentioned, to present a petition of right in England under the Colonial Stock Act, 1877. Since that time, Mr. Franklin and a number of others have presented petitions claiming that various sums are due to them, and these petitions have been referred to the High Court.

In April, a High Court judgment was given that the sum claimed by Mr. Franklin was due to him. Later, Mr. Franklin obtained from the Bank of England payment of a small sum in the region of £41. He was informed by the bank that this exhausted the moneys of the Government of Southern Rhodesia in its possession.

The Bank of England also holds certain assets on behalf of the Reserve Bank of Rhodesia. The Bank of England and the Reserve Bank are seeking a declaratory judgment from the courts to the effect that these assets do not constitute moneys of the Government of Southern Rhodesia, and this action has been started. The assets, particulars of which were revealed in the Reserve Bank's points of claim dated 22nd May, amount to about £8½ million or £9 million.

As was explained on 19th April, even if it emerges that the funds of the Reserve Bank or some other significant funds are available, it is clear that these would be quite insufficient to meet the total liabilities to both stockholders and other creditors, the total of these liabilities being in the region of £90 million.

Mr. Peter Hordern (Horsham)

To which Government is the Reserve Bank of Rhodesia responsible?

The Solicitor-General

In a sense, the Reserve Bank of Rhodesia is somewhat similar to the Bank of England. It has certain duties to the Government of Southern Rhodesia; it is that Government's banker. But it also has certain other duties which are unconnected directly with government.

As was explained on 19th April, the total liabilities amount to about £90 million. If nothing further were done, the effect in law would be that stockholders would be served on a first-come, first-served basis, so that the earliest would receive 100p in the £, and late comers nothing. This would be—I am sure that the House will agree—manifestly unjust. Indeed, the solicitors for the Council of Foreign Bondholders, which is a body corporate established by statute, by letter dated 12th December 1972 expressly made the point that the assets should be distributed on an equitable basis among all the bondholders. Her Majesty's Government therefore decided that, in the event of significant funds becoming available, they would ensure that they were distributed equitably, and that they would entrust the Foreign Compensation Commission with this task.

The order before us is, therefore, of a contingent nature. It will not need to take full effect unless it emerges that substantial funds—whether those held by the Reserve Bank or others—are available for distribution. Her Majesty's Government propose that other creditors of the lawful Government of Southern Rhodesia, including the British taxpayer, should have an opportunity to submit their claims.

Mr. Peter Rost (Derbyshire, South-East)

Could my hon. and learned Friend clarify a point regarding the £90 million liabilities to which he referred by giving the breakdown of what those liabilities are, and whether they are equal liabilities or whether there are prior claims against them? Second, is my hon. and learned Friend assuming that Rhodesia is in a state of bankruptcy, with a liquidator having to be appointed by this Government—which appears to be the sort of situation we are debating?

The Solicitor-General

There is no question of assuming that Southern Rhodesia is in a state of bankruptcy. The £90 million is made up of £53 million due to stockholders, with the balance due at the moment to Her Majesty's Government. There is no way in which those sums due to Her Majesty's Government, which are sums due to the taxpayer, can be recovered. So if the funds in the Reserve Bank of Rhodesia arc by court order eventually made available, it is right that the taxpayer should also be able to claim there. The £37 million arises either by sums paid under the guarantee to the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development to service debts for which the Government of Southern Rhodesia are primarily responsible and also by direct Exchequer loans whereby the Government of Southern Rhodesia are in default in repayment.

Article 2 is already in effect. It is designed to ensure, pending a decision whether the remainder of the order should be brought into operation, that no Southern Rhodesia Government funds are paid to any particular creditor or creditors of that Government. To allow such payments to be made could defeat the objects of fair distribution. The immediate risk of such claims being made is high and it was decided by the Government that that risk should not be run. Article 2 therefore came into operation at the first opportunity.

The Article also provides that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs should be informed of any available funds so that he could reach an informed decision whether a day should be appointed for the remainder of the order to come into operation. If it emerges that no significant funds are available we should not propose to effect the remainder of the order. It would not be worthwhile if the amount available for distribution were such that after deducting expenses of distribution the proportion of each claim payable to the creditors was minute.

In that case under Article 2 any payment out of such funds would require the consent of the Secretary of State and that would of course depend upon relevant circumstances at the time.

Mr. Percy Grieve (Solihull)

Is my hon. and learned Friend saying that the Government do not know what funds are available for distribution?

The Solicitor-General

Of course I am saying that. It is a matter to be decided by the courts as a result of the proceedings brought by the Reserve Bank and the Bank of England for a declaration in the High Court whether some of the funds they hold are funds of the Government of Southern Rhodesia or not. That is a matter of law which will have to be decided by the courts.

Mr. Peter Rees (Dover)

On that particular action, will my hon and learned Friend confirm that the Reserve Bank of Rhodesia is not offering to pay Mr. Franklin's costs, although he is joined as a party'? Will he explain not as a matter of law but as a matter of merit the basis of the Reserve Bank's case that it does not hold Rhodesia Government funds?

The Solicitor-General

I am unable to do that. The Reserve Bank is a separate statutory body and it is a matter for it. It was set up under an Act of Parliament in Southern Rhodesia. It is a matter for the bank to persuade the court if it can when the matter is decided in the High Court. As for Mr. Franklin's costs, I understand that the Bank of England has undertaken to be responsible for its share of the costs. I do not know of any similar undertaking by the Reserve Bank of Rhodesia. That is not a matter for Her Majesty's Government in any way.

Article 7(1)(a), (2) and (3) provide that stockholders and Her Majesty's Government can make claims regarding certain debts. When drafting the order it was not found possible with the information available to define which other private creditors could claim. There has been no indication of other private creditors up to this evening.

Mr. Grieve

Will my hon. and learned Friend tell us aye or no, do the Government wholly repudiate any question, if the order goes through tonight, of making themselves or some other public body responsible for Mr. Franklin's costs?

The Solicitor-General

The parties in the action which is now pending in the commercial court are the parties of the Bank of England, the Reserve Bank of Rhodesia and Mr. Franklin. Her Majesty's Government are not a party to it and would not therefore be concerned in any way with the costs of the parties.

Article 7(4) empowers the Secretary of State to bring other kinds of debts within the scope of the article if, in the light of representations made to him by other private creditors, this would seem just. At present there is no knowledge of other private creditors. An order under this provision would be subject to annulment by resolution of either House.

In Article 7(2)(a) the date of 31st July 1974 is given as an alternative to the appointed date. This date was decided upon because there is one issue of stock due for redemption in June 1974 and then there is a gap until 1979. It was thought that July 1974 was a comparatively early date, and that therefore it is practical and desirable to allow claims to the redemption moneys concerned up to then.

I should make a reference to the claims shown as being those by Her Majesty's Government. Hon. Members will recognise the manifestly fair principle that the taxpayer should have his share of any funds which may become available.

If at the end of the time the balance of claims is still unsatisfied, even if those funds in the Reserve Bank are held to be available, those claims will not be extinguished but will remain valid for consideration as and when a final settlement is reached. That is the reason for Article 14.

10.41 p.m.

Sir Elwyn Jones (West Ham, South)

The problems with which the order is concerned arise directly from the rebellion in Rhodesia and the unhappy consequences which have flowed from that rebellion for all concerned. In particular the various creditors of the Rhodesian Government have suffered seriously—the stockholders, with whom we are immediately concerned, and the taxpayers in this country who stand to lose from repudiation of the Rhodesian Government's debts.

The previous administration did what they could to get in the assets of the Reserve Bank of Rhodesia in different parts of the world. Faced with the demands of various creditors of the Rhodesian Government, the Labour Government decided to preserve such assets as could be assembled for the people of Rhodesia as a whole until the time when as it was hoped, legal constitutional government was restored in Rhodesia.

The effluxion of time, the unhappily unsuccessful attempts which have been made on so many occasions to achieve a settlement with the Smith regime, and now the actions taken in the courts, have made desirable now the distribution among creditors of such Rhodesian assets as are within the jurisdiction of the courts of this country.

In his speech of explanation the Solicitor-General has indicated that the order makes two important policy decisions. First, it establishes parity between creditors rather than have the distribution of whatever funds may fall to be available on a first-come, first-served basis. The second principle he has adumbrated is that the order enables certain scheduled debts due to the United Kingdom Government to rank pari passu, pro rata, with other liabilities of the Rhodesian Government, and in particular the interest due to the Rhodesian stockholders.

The House will think the first principle to be right. There should be little room for controversy about that. As the Solicitor-General said, it would be inequitable if the creditors were paid on a first-come, first-served basis, so that the early bird would get 100p in the pound and the late-comer might get nothing. I note that Lord Trevelyan, as President of the Council of Foreign Bondholders, has agreed at any rate with that part of the Government's approach.

I venture to think that the House will not quarrel either with giving responsibility, under Article 7 of the order, for the distribution of the available Southern Rhodesian Fund to the Foreign Compensation Commission constituted by the 1950 Act, or for making that fund the depository of any Rhodesian moneys that may become available as provided in Article 6 of the order. The House would have welcomed rather more information, if it is available from the Minister, as to what funds we are talking about.

It is all very well to wrap this up in some general observations about these being banking matters. These are banking matters on which the Government have a pretty good grip and the House is entitled to know first, what funds are held by the Bank of England as registrar in respect of the stocks.

We were told in April 1973 that they were negligible. Is that still the case? Are there any other funds held in the United Kingdom apart from the funds of the Reserve Bank of Rhodesia? I confess that I was led, when I was holding a certain office, to think that there might be such funds. Perhaps we might have some elucidation on that.

Sir John Foster (Northwich)

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree with the Solicitor-General that the Government have no control of or responsibility for the Reserve Bank in view of his sentence at the beginning of his speech that the previous Government tried to collect all the money of the Reserve Bank?

Sir Elwyn Jones

I think that the Mnister had better answer that. I am not sure of the answer. We certainly thought that this was the best course to take for the protection of creditors in this country, to take such steps as we could to bring it under control. It is an interesting question. Happily it is not my function to answer it—not now. It indicates there is a special relationship between the Government and the Reserve Bank of Rhodesia in the circumstances, and I will not elaborate that further. I hope that the Minister will throw some light on that.

Inevitably the Government are taking a neutral attitude with regard to the banking litigation taking place. The House would like to know, in the event of the Southern Rhodesian Reserve Bank funds becoming available for distribution, how much we are talking about.

It is the second policy adumbrated by the Solicitor-General which is controversial. It has raised what I find to be painful questions of priorities as to what course of action the Government should take in an exceptionally painful situation. There is no doubt that a large number of stockholders are involved. Some, like Mr. Franklin, who has been the John Hampden in this piece of history—and with whose position I have much sympathy—are individuals by no means rich, who made their investment in the colony at a time when that was a public-spirited thing to do, no doubt in the proper expectation of a fair return on their money. Whatever the outcome of this unhappy story I think the House will require that somewhere some steps are taken so that at least Mr. Hampden gets his costs of the litigation.

The difficult question, and it is inescapable, is this: is it right that the stockholders should receive merely parity of treatment with what is put, as a short cut, as "the Government" but which, being translated, means the United Kingdom taxpayer who will stand to lose if these stockholders are given preferential treatment? Or should the United Kingdom taxpayer, in any special circumstances that are deemed to exist, be called upon to make a sacrifice for the benefit of the stockholders? I agree that this is a painful way of putting the matter, but I have come to the conclusion that it is the right way.

Putting the matter in that way, it is relevant for the House to bear in mind that, as the learned Solicitor said in his closing remarks, we are not determining for ever by this order, and by tonight's decision, the rights of the two respective classes of creditors we are considering—namely, the bondholders and the taxpayers. We cannot look into the future at what may ultimately happen to the prospects of settlement in Rhodesia, and tonight we are determining only the proportions that are, or may become, available for payment.

As that sum is clearly insufficient on any basis to meet the just claims both of the stockholders and of the taxpayers, those claims, in so far as they will at the time of a settlement be unfulfilled, must be an important element in any future settlement with Rhodesia. I am confident that this Government will bear that consideration in mind—and they certainly ought to do so—when the time comes, as I hope any succeeding administration will also bear it in mind.

Mr. Rost

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that no creditors in this country have any legal right to claim on any Rhodesian assets in this country? Will he agree that there is no legal right for these assets to be expropriated in any way by any British creditors?

Sir Elwyn Jones

I do not know about that. I should have thought that the creditors in England who are bondholders would have a claim. What we are concerned about is that all other creditors within the United Kingdom within the jurisdiction have a claim. The money is here and, unless I misunderstood the hon. Gentleman's question, I do not think there is any difficulty about that.

Mr. Charles Fletcher-Cooke (Darwen)

What I think my hon. Friend has in mind is the distinction between a bondholder and an unsecured creditor or a simple creditor. Some of my hon. Friends think that a bondholder is superior in rank and in preference to an unsecured creditor, whether it be Government or private.

Sir Elwyn Jones

This is a very interesting proposition. That the Government are a creditor entitled to participate in the distribution was, I should have thought, clearly the case. Perhaps we shall have the benefit of the learned Solicitor's advice upon that point. But, certainly, I know of no legal proposition to exclude the claims of the Government to any funds in this account which may become available.

In the circumstances that I have mentioned, that this is certainly not the first decision, the sort of consideration that the House must take into account at this stage is whether it would be right to require the taxpayer to subordinate his claims to those of the stockholders, however much sympathy one has for them. This is the reality of the matter. The claims of public funds for providing social necessities such as homes, schools and hospitals are certainly significant objects of priority, as are the rights of stockholders. But we on this side, after much anxious thought about this issue, have come to the conclusion that the right decision is not to subordinate the claims of the stockholders to those of the public, nor the claims of the public to those of the stockholders, and that the equitable distribution that is proposed in this order is the right answer.

10.55 p.m.

Mr. Peter Rees (Dover)

Like, I imagine, many of my right hon. and hon. Friends, I have read certain lurid articles in the Press about this order, and I have perhaps been prompted to look more closely at the order by Mr. Franklin's litigation than I would otherwise have done.

I must confess to finding the order too opaque to judge of the Government's conduct. I long to be reassured that the Government, who on every occasion I have supported with the utmost loyalty, are behaving honourably in this situation. So that I can judge how the Government are behaving in this context, I should like to address several specific questions to my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General in the earnest hope that he can give us some reassurance.

The first question is this. Does this order as it stands preclude Mr. Franklin from taking advantage of the order which he obtained under his petition of right? It is all very well to say that it would be wrong to proceed on the basis of first-come, first-served; but the heat and burden of the day on this occasion has been borne by Mr. Franklin and, more important than that, and constitutionally more important, he has an order of the High Court in his favour. So my first question is: does this order preclude Mr. Franklin from taking advantage of the order which he obtained as a result of prolonged and, I imagine, costly litigation?

The second question I have to put to my hon. and learned Friend is this. What other claims, and in particular what other claims of the Crown, does this order admit to Southern Rhodesian funds held in this country, over and above those of holders of Southern Rhodesian stocks? I may mention that I am particularly disturbed by Article 7(4) which says: A Secretary of State may by order direct that this Article shall apply to any such additional liability of the Crown arising in respect of the Government of Southern Rhodesia as may be specified in the order … Admittedly it has got to be done by order laid before this House, but it means in fact that the Crown can admit practically any claim of its own to rank in parity with those of the stockholders. Indeed, there may be other claims of the Crown of which I am unaware.

The third question is in relation to this litigation, for which my hon. and learned Friend, perhaps properly or improperly, disclaims any responsibility, involving the Bank of England and the Reserve Bank of Southern Rhodesia, to which Mr. Franklin has been made a party and in respect of the Reserve Bank's case we know that there is no undertaking as to his costs.

First of all, will he ex gratia give an assurance that Mr. Franklin's costs will be met in full? More than that—and this perhaps touches the honour of his own Department—is it true that my hon. and learned Friend's predecessor in correspondence gave Mr. Franklin or his advisers to understand that the funds held to the order of the Rhodesian Bank were reserve funds available for meeting the claims of the stockholders? If that is so, and whatever the technicalities—although I may be a lawyer I discard technicalities on an occasion like this—it is wrong for the Government to disclaim responsibility for this litigation.

Unless I receive reassurances on these points, I shall regretfully be forced to the conclusion that the Government are behaving on a small but important matter rather shabbily and I shall have to vote against the order.

11.0 p.m.

Mr. Emlyn Hooson (Montgomery)

If Mr. Franklin had not won his action in the High Court, we should not be troubled with this order. The whole purpose of the exercise is to remove the result of that piece of litigation. There is basically an issue of principle here. In a difficult situation, a difficult question arises, but I have no doubt, having reflected on it, how I would answer it—that a stockholder in Rhodesia was in a prior position, that he should be treated as someone different from, as it were, the general creditors, as represented by the taxpayers. Everyone in this country would understand that principle.

What would Mr. Franklin's position have been had there been no rebellion in Rhodesia? There was a rebellion, and the legitimate government of Southern Rhodesia is Her Majesty's Government. Therefore, when the previous administration took the steps they did to secure all the capital they could for the Reserve Bank of Rhodesia, they were acting as they should have done as the legitimate Government of Rhodesia. Mr. Franklin has a claim, a prior claim, as a stockholder.

The position is quite different, is it not, from that which would obtain if, say, the BP Company, in which the Government have 49 per cent. of the shares, were in liquidation? In that situation, of course, the rights of the taxpayer should be safeguarded, because then his money should be treated like the money of any other shareholder. This analogy has been used—not in this debate, but in discussion outside—to argue that the Government have a duty to safeguard the rights of the taxpayers. Of course that is true in that kind of situation, but here the situation is different.

This Government stand in the shoes of the former Government of Rhodesia. They are the legitimate Government of Rhodesia. The bank is therefore responsible to this Government. This Government control it, virtually, and they should simply see to it that the stockholders are paid and that Mr. Franklin is not deprived of what he has gained in the courts by this rather shabby manoeuvre.

11.3 p.m.

Mr. Percy Grieve (Solihull)

I wish to add only a very few words to what has been said by the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) and by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dover (Mr. Peter Rees), who put clearly and succinctly the questions which many supporters of the Government feel that the Government, through the Solicitor-General, must answer tonight.

First, is the effect of the order to deprive Mr. Franklin of the fruits of a judgment which he has obtained in the highest court of the land? If it would do that retrospectively, I regret to say that I must oppose it. Retrospective legislation to deprive someone of the fruits of such a judgment must be subject to the closest scrutiny, and if that is the effect of the order, I cannot support it.

Second, what undertaking does he Solicitor-General give with regard to Mr. Franklin's costs? There may be a case on the lines that the Solicitor-General propounded for equating other debtors of such funds as there may be with those bondholders—[Interruption.] I am coming to that. Bondholders are in fact a prior class because they hold stock which has been guaranteed by a Government which has been subsumed by Her Majesty's Government, who therefore have some responsibility in this matter. This is the question which my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dover posed and which I will pose also.

If the effect of what we are asked to do tonight is to deprive Mr. Franklin of the fruits of his judgment and there is no guarantee to him of his costs in seeking justice in the courts then I am against it and shall vote against it.

Secondly, my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General has by no means made clear the funds with which we are concerned. Both the right hon. and learned Member for West Ham, South (Sir Elwyn Jones) and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dover underlined the fact that there is vague talk of "funds" and that we are told there may be other funds. We do not know what we are dealing with or what the claims on what we are dealing with are. But that is a subsidiary question. The all-important one is whether we are here retrospectively depriving a subject of the Queen of the rights which he has obtained in the courts and which have been defined by the courts. If we are, I for one must vote against the order.

11.5 p.m.

Mr. David Steel (Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles)

This debate so far has been monopolised by lawyers. Although I did not hope to be any the wiser at the end of the opening remarks of the Solicitor-General, I had hoped to be a little better informed. I was not, and I am relieved to find that the lawyers are in the same position.

We can agree on all sides that this debate has nothing to do with the political arguments about the merits or demerits of the Rhodesian rebellion, and that is important. We in this House should be vigilant to protect individual citizens who have established their rights in the courts against a Government of any colour who seek to turn them aside.

Practically all of us will have stockholders amongst our constituents. Constituents of mine have followed the Franklin case and have come to me asking where they stand and when they are likely to receive their interest. Am I expected to tell them that I have acquiesced in the overturning of the court's decision in the Franklin case? That is an appalling suggestion, and in my view we as a House should protest at the terms of this order.

It is all too easy for Governments to slide into the habit of what I call "late night retrospection". We have had one or two examples recently. There was the Burmah Oil case. Shortly before the recess there was the case of a Scottish school master who had won his case in the courts only to find the Government introducing an obscure measure late at night to remove his rights. Now we have this case.

It is time that we said, "No. This will not do." If a citizen wins his case in the courts, the Government of the day must stand by it. The moment that we let that principle slip, we fail in our duty as a House of Commons.

11.8 p.m.

Mr. Peter Hordern (Horsham)

My remarks will be brief, because I am no lawyer, either. I want merely to ask my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General one or two questions about the Reserve Bank of Rhodesia

My hon. and learned Friend rightly said that the Reserve Bank was responsible to the Government of Southern Rhodesia. Who are the Government of Rhodesia? I thought that we were.

The assets of the Reserve Bank of Rhodesia are held in the Bank of England and have been for some time. What was the purpose of the funds held by the Reserve Bank? Were not they held for the redemption of any Southern Rhodesian bonds and the payment of interest on them?

I shall be grateful for some information about the status of the Reserve Bank of Rhodesia. If there had been no Colonial Stock Act and the position was that there were bondholders and all other creditors, including the Government, it would have been difficult to sustain a case that the bondholders should have priority. But there is the Colonial Stock Act. Mr. Franklin was successful in petitioning the Queen and then in the High Court, and there is no other form of legislation under which any other creditor—not even the Government—would have been successful in the courts.

That is the simple position. But the stockholders were successful through Mr. Franklin, so we cannot allow my hon. and learned Friend in his reply to leave this case without assuring us that Mr. Franklin will at least get his costs.

In my opinion, the status of Southern Rhodesia stock is equivalent to that of the debentures of a company. I know this matter has been pursued outside this House. This situation is similar to that of the director of a company in bankruptcy. These bonds were not only issued by the Government of Southern Rhodesia, but, as I understand it, were guaranteed by the British Government at the time of issue and were always understood to carry the guarantee of the United Kingdom Government. At least, that is my advice. I may be wrong. I hope that my hon. and learned Friend will advise me whether that is the position.

Since this legislation exists, and as Mr. Franklin has been successful on behalf of other bondholders, the important point to be dealt with by my hon. and learned Friend is that of retrospection. The House fully understands that this was not expected to happen, but it has happened.

So far as I know, the House has always been reluctant to allow any form of retrospective action. This action has been fairly won. Therefore, these stockholders ought to have been allowed to be paid.

11.12 p.m.

Sir John Foster (Northwich)

First, I should like to deal with the question of costs. It seems to me that the Reserve Bank owes a relationship to the lawful Government of Rhodesia, which is the United Kingdom Government. The Reserve Bank is not acting for the unlawful Government of Rhodesia. It would be wrong if it were.

The right hon. and learned Member for West Ham, South (Sir Elwyn Jones) pointed out that the then Government collected as many assets as they could and put them in the Reserve Bank. Just as the Bank of England has done the proper thing by agreeing to pay its share of Mr. Franklin's costs, I think the Reserve Bank should do so.

The action was for a declaration. The Reserve Bank and the Bank of England might have sued you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, or me for a declaration. Mr. Franklin is not in a special position, except politically. One of the disadvantages of English law is that some unfortunate person may find himself the target of a declaratory judgment which is purported to bind everybody else. Mr. Franklin would have been wise to say, "I am not going to have anything to do with it", and let the court battle with the banks over the declaratory judgment.

The point is that when somebody is picked on for a declaratory judgment which is of importance to the whole country, that person's costs ought to be paid. This practice obtains with income tax questions. The Revenue will say, "As this is a question of great importance and it is haphazard that Mr. X is the defendant or the plaintiff in this case, we will pay the costs of both sides." This is a question of making the Government an equal party with the bondholders. When hon. Members study HANSARD tomorrow they will see that the Solicitor-General said that Lord Trevelyan, for the Council of Foreign Bondholders, put forward the view that all bondholders should be made equal because it was rather bad luck on those who came afterwards that they would get only a few pence in the pound whereas the first come would be first served.

That is a possible point of view, and it is one which the bondholders accept, but he went on to say that therefore the Government thought that the distribution should be equitable and that all the creditors should have an equal right. The effect of that would be to deprive Mr. Franklin of the greater part of his winnings.

What happened was that Mr. Franklin put forward a petition of right, which was a right included in the Colonial Stock Act. The Law Officers took the view that the Cyprus Act had abolished the right of a petition of right in these cases. They maintained that view for a long time, and they were proved to be wrong. When the Government find that their view of the law is wrong, they go in for retrospection. It is often the case that the successful plaintiff has hit on a rather ingenious device, but I still think that if he has won he ought to hold his winnings.

In the Burmah Oil case the Government were certain that the depredations of the Japanese would not be the subject of a successful claim by Burmah Oil. They were wrong. The House of Lords decided that they were wrong. The Government were chagrined, and they brought in an Order in Council reversing the decision. In another case, Prince Frederick hit on the ingenious idea that as he was a descendant of George III he was a British subject. Nobody had thought of that. The Government were taken by surprise, and Prince Frederick won a case before the compensation tribunal which held that he was entitled to a large slice of the Polish compensation. The Government then brought in an Order in Council to reverse that decision.

In this case it was proved that the Cyprus Act did not abolish the right of a petition of right. The Government therefore decided to deal with the debts owed to them by the Rhodesians pari passu those owed to bondholders. It is not a question whether the Government guaranteed anything. It is purely that in their bonds they have the right to bring a petition of right.

Mr. Justice Lawton said "Let right be done", and if right was done it would unlock quite a lot of assets because it would be worth Mr. Franklin's while to prove that the assets of the Reserve Bank were assets to which he had a right in order to satisfy his judgment. If he loses, that is part of the game of law, but he should be allowed to prove that, and it looks as though he would win. The Government do not want to put him out of court, but they are seeking to make certain that if he wins he will not get the fruits of that victory, because the rights of the bondholders will be severely swamped by the Government's credit.

I have always thought that retrospective legislation, even if it is due to the discovery of a rather smart lawyer, is wrong. The rule of law requires that we should abide by our rules of law. If there are anomalies, they should be rectified later, but not so as to affect previous judgments.

I think that that is the fallacy in this case. It is understandable that the Government acted as they did in the three cases that I have cited, and the Scottish schoolmaster's case is another. The Government act in this way because they find that their view of the law, the one on which they have advised everybody and advised the Cabinet, is wrong. They are irritated to find that some lawyer has got round it, but that is not a reason for retrospective legislation.

I am sorry that the right hon. and learned Member for West Ham, South thinks that it is right to have retrospective legislation depriving Mr. Franklin of his right on the ground that the unlocking of the funds is equivalent to funds being provided for all the creditors of the Rhodesian Government. That is not so. The unlocking of the funds, if it were not for this order, gives the right to anyone who recovers on a judgment. The United Kingdom taxpayer cannot recover because he does not have the right to proceed by petition of right. The only people who have that right are the bondholders, because when the legislation was drafted the people who drafted it forgot to abolish the remedy of petition of right. It is as simple as that.

11.20 p.m.

Miss J. M. Quennell (Petersfield)

I have been listening to the debate with the greatest interest. I should like to add a few un-learned and inexpert words as the Member of Parliament who has the privilege of representing Mr. Franklin.

The right hon. and learned Member for West Ham, South (Sir Elwyn Jones) referred to Mr. Franklin as a gentleman of modest means. Mr. Franklin is by no means the only holder of Rhodesian stock in my constituency, and all tend to fall into much the same category. It also follows that they are of a scarcely young age at present. Their savings which went into this stock went into it because they thought that it was a safe and respectable haven.

I share the view of the hon. Member for the three counties—if I may condense his full parliamentary title to save time. This is not a political matter. More and more of this debate has developed into a debate of constitutional importance and of fundamental principle.

I must tell my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General that, if the White Paper were found to be a little opaque in the view of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dover (Mr. Peter Rees), I found his speech a little foggy when it came to searching for clarification of many of the issues of principle which have been raised tonight. I, too, shall have to join my hon. Friends in the Lobby if my hon. and learned Friend is unable, during the next 35 minutes or so, to help throw light on some of the foggy places which have been revealed.

11.22 p.m.

Mr. Patrick Wall (Haltemprice)

The arguments have been made by learned and not-so-learned Members on both sides of the House. I hope that my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General has appreciated that every speaker has taken much the same view.

As I see it, the order is overruling the decision of the court and it is retrospective. Therefore, it is a matter of principle, for it touches the rights of the subject. I shall put my only question in rather crude language so that it may be understood by the man in the street. I have to use figures, because they have been bandied about in the Press. The figures may be wrong but they illustrate my point. The figures in the Press give the total amount of money in the fund as about £10 million. It is said that the Government are owed £35 million and that the bondholders are claiming £5 million.

Will the Government use their larger claim in order to pinch the whole of the kitty, will they split it with the bondholders, or will they give the bondholders preference? If the Government give the bondholders preference, I shall be happy. If they do not, I shall certainly vote against the order.

11.23 p.m.

Mr. Charles Fletcher-Cooke (Darwen)

Like Mr. Franklin, the constituent of my hon. Friend the Member for Petersfield (Miss Quennell). I am a bondholder of modest means and rather ancient in years, just like my hon. Friend's constituent puts the matter. But being a bondholder, whatever I may think about retrospection—I think a great deal about it—it would be somewhat indecent if I were to vote on the order tonight.

11.24 p.m.

Dr. Alan Glyn (Windsor)

I wish to raise only two points. The first is on the question of guarantee of the bond, which has been referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Horsham (Mr. Hordern). I think that I am correct in saying that the guarantee did not at the time impose any obligations on the British Government, and no guarantee whatsoever. The guarantee was only on the part of the Southern Rhodesian Government. There are two classes of Dominion and Colonial bonds, one of which is guaranteed by the British Government and the other of which is not. The Rhodesian bonds were not guaranteed. as far as I know, by the British Government.

The second point is that of the position of the Reserve Bank of Southern Rhodesia. If we are the legal Government, surely we have the right to say how these funds are distributed.

Thirdly, if we are the legal Government of Rhodesia, it is surely questionable, in my opinion, whether we are not responsible for the entire debt of the Southern Rhodesian Government.

11.25 p.m.

The Solicitor-General

Before dealing with the detailed points raised, I shall deal with one or two generalities.

First, there is no lawful Government of Southern Rhodesia. Her Majesty's Government have not assumed the government of Southern Rhodesia, but under the Southern Rhodesia Constitution Order 1965 there is provision that certain executive powers under Rhodesian law may be exercised by the Secretary of State and that Her Majesty in Council may make laws for Southern Rhodesia. Many hon. Members have spoken about Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom being the Government of Southern Rhodesia, but that simply is not the fact

Therefore, there is no duty, and there has never been any duty, upon the United Kingdom Government in relation to foreign or colonial stockholders' bonds. There never has been and it has never been guaranteed or underwritten in any way by the United Kingdom Government.

I want to deal now with the position of the Reserve Bank and its funds. They are not funds, so far as can be discovered, generally of the Government of Southern Rhodesia, if such exists. The Reserve Bank is a body set up under a Southern Rhodesian Act of 1964, not as a Government Department but as a statutory corporation. Its principal function is the regulation of the monetary system of Southern Rhodesia and it has the sole right to issue bank notes. It is required to establish a reserve fund, which was originally constituted from money taken over from the Bank of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.

Apart from that, in order to maintain the value of the currency, it has the power to buy and sell and hold gold and foreign assets. All this it holds for itself under public statutory purposes and it is not, as far as I know, subject to direction of the Government. The Government hold stock in the bank and that is all. The bank can, however, act on behalf of the Government of Southern Rhodesia for limited purposes. It is, indeed, the Southern Rhodesian Government's banker. It also acts as its agent in the management of the public debt in Southern Rhodesia. It can therefore be that money in its hands is the property of that Government, and some part of the funds of the Reserve Bank held in London may be of that character. This is the very issue to be decided in the Queen's Bench Division.

Mr. John Biggs-Davison (Chigwell)

Who is the chairman and who are the directors of the Reserve Bank?

The Solicitor-General

I do not have that information available. I will write to my hon. Friend.

A great deal of the debate has in the end turned, as I suspected it would, upon the question of retrospection. This criticism would be justified if the Government had acted so as to stay all proceedings against the Southern Rhodesian Government. Such an action would have deprived the claimants of such right of action that the courts do hold to exist, and would have done so retrospectively. But that step, which would have been easily done by an Order in Council declaring that the funds of the Reserve Bank were not to be used in respect of any claim by any stockholder, has not been taken, and I accept that that action if it had been taken would have been retrospective.

The present action is not retrospective but is applying the fair principle that when the cake is limited in size all those entitled to a slice should share it accordingly. If the Reserve Bank funds are found to be available, then all those who have justifiable claims against the Southern Rhodesian Government will be entitled to their fair share.

It is in this context that Her Majesty's Government's claim is a claim on behalf of the taxpayers. But if it is still felt that there is an element or even the appearance of retrospection, in the sense that the pool of those entitled to claim may be enlarged by this order, I would point out that surely it would be unfair that those who had been given a procedural remedy in happier days should benefit to the exclusion of those whose ordinary remedy of suing in the courts of Southern Rhodesia, or making such other arrangements for repayment of the taxpayers' money as ordinarily exists between Governments, had, in the extraordinary circumstances of UDI, been removed. That really is the test that is to be applied here.

This order will be brought into effect if those funds are found to be available and the result will be—in the view of the Government—to do substantial justice to all the claimants.

A number of hon. Members do not appear to have understood the figures that I gave when I opened the debate. The sums due for interest and redemption to date amount to about £53 million. The sums due to Her Majesty's Government in respect of the guarantees or direct Exchequer grant are about £37 million, making £90 million in all. It is believed, looking at the documents filed in the proceedings for a declaration by the Reserve Bank that the funds that it holds, which may or may not be the funds of the Southern Rhodesian Government, amount to between £8½ million and £9 million. It follows that about one-tenth of what is required may be available if the judgment goes in favour of those who are seeking to establish that money is available for distribution. The share estimated for the Government is slightly under four-ninths, leaving it between £3.7 million and £5.3 million out of the £9 million.

Mr. Rost

So that there is no confusion about my hon. and learned Friend's figures, will he break down the figure he gave and say how much is actually arrears of interest due and how much is capital that should have been redeemed by now, and whether any of the figure is capital which is not yet due for redemption?

The Solicitor-General

The amount of interest and redemption outstanding at this moment as I understand it, comes to £53 million. I regret that I am unable to break it down.

That £53 million, which is the estimate made by the Council of Foreign Bondholders and the estimate by the registrar—which is the Bank of England—is in respect of those who would be entitled to claim. Eighty-six petitions have been received and the approximate amount involved in those petitions exceeds £3 million, and when one is speaking of the elderly and the not-very-well-to-do stockholders who are anxious that they should recover their share—a matter in respect of which the Government have the greatest sympathy—it is right that the House should know that of the £3 million already claimed over £2¼ million has been claimed by a number of banks. Only the balance is represented by individuals.

Questions were raised particularly by the right hon. and learned Member for West Ham, South (Sir Elwyn Jones). There is nothing in the books of the registrar of this stock—the Bank of England—beyond the amount paid over to Mr. Franklin, in the region of £40 or £41. There is nothing there at all.

The next question was whether there are any other funds in the United Kingdom. None is known. Power has been taken under Article 2 of the order requiring written notification by any person holding any funds being the property of the Government of Southern Rhodesia. That has been in operation since the end of July. There has been no reaction to that. It may be that the approach of the right hon. and learned Gentleman when he was in office—when the problem broke—was too optimistic, as events have proved.

The question of the unsatisfied claims which, quite rightly, the right hon. and learned Gentleman said should be considered in any future settlement, was a matter which, in the 1971 negotiations, was not only discussed; an assurance was given that these claims and similar claims would be satisfied if a settlement were reached. It is a matter which, up to now, has been considered by the Government in such negotiations for a settlement of this problem with Southern Rhodesia.

My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dover (Mr. Peter Rees) asked a number of questions. The first, and perhaps the most important, was whether the order precludes Mr. Franklin from taking advantage of his judgment under his petition of right. It does to this extent. First, it allows him to knock on the door as the first claimant—indeed, he knocked on the door as the first claimant because he was the first one who succeeded—but if the judgment of the court finds that Reserve Bank funds are available for stockholders it prevents him from getting full satisfaction at the expense of the other stockholders. Secondly, by accepting now claims by creditors other than stockholders, the pool has to that extent been diluted. That is the limit of the alteration of the rights that Mr. Franklin had as a result of the order.

Mr. Grieve

I am sorry to intervene so often in my hon. and learned Friend's speeches this evening, but surely the first person to succeed in a claim in court and to have a judgment in his favour is always preferred, because he has borne the heat and burden of the day and has won.

The Solicitor-General

I have a feeling that my hon. and learned Friend lives in a very small world of his own in this House if he believes that in a case of this sort, where there are claimants of £53 million, one person can take an unfair proportion simply by being the first there. I feel that many in this House would believe that the attitude adopted by the Government is the right one.

As regards other claims, particularly of the Crown—I was asked especially to deal with Article 7(4)—my hon. and learned Friend will see specified in Article 7 various types of debt which are to be recognised and which will have to be proved before the commission. They are set out in greater detail in the schedule. Article 7(4) gives power to the Secretary of State to extend that list in respect of any debt that becomes apparent, but it does not make that debt automatically accepted, because, again, the creditor must prove it to the commission.

As regards Mr. Franklin's costs, a matter which has been raised by a number of hon. Members, as I said in opening the debate the Government are not a party to these proceedings. In our view, it would be wrong and setting a precedent which would be undesirable that the Government should in those circumstances be responsible for any part of the debts of a party to what are still private proceedings.

Mr. Anthony Fell (Yarmouth)

Is it not true that the Government have assumed responsibility for this by their action?

The Solicitor-General

The Government have not assumed responsibility; they have never been responsible. The proceedings in which Mr. Franklin was concerned have nothing to do with the order. Indeed, the order becomes necessary only because of the proceedings and because of Mr. Franklin's seeking to establish that the funds of the Reserve Bank are the property of the Government of Southern Rhodesia. If that had not happened, the order would not be necessary. [Interruption.] This is a contingent order relying upon that. In those circumstances, pending the result, which will have to be determined by a court, the Government take the view—it is one with which I agree—that it is not right in this case for the Government to indemnify Mr. Franklin in respect of his costs.

Mr. Peter Rees

There was a further question which I put to my hon. and learned Friend which was of great importance. Will he confirm or deny that an authoritative view was given to Mr. Franklin by the previous Solicitor-General that the funds held by the Reserve Bank were Southern Rhodesian Government funds?

The Solicitor-General

I was just coming to that. The question was this: did my predecessor say that funds were available? In fact, there was a letter from the Attorney-General's department written in April 1970, that is, during the occupancy of that office by the right hon. and learned Member for West Ham, South. It was in reply to a letter from Mr. Franklin dated 16th April, the department's reply being dated 30th April, over the signature of Mr. Watts. I think that I had better read it so that there can be no doubt about the matter, since this letter has been quoted in several newspapers as establishing an admission of substantial assets being held. It does not. The letter reads: The liability for providing the funds for paying the interest and repaying the capital to the stockholders is that of the Government of Southern Rhodesia alone. Responsibility for these payments has not been transferred to Her Majesty's Government as a result of the illegal declaration of independence, or of any of the measures taken subsequently by Her Majesty's Government. The Reserve Bank of Rhodesia holds certain sterling assets of the Government of Rhodesia in an account at the Bank of England, and, as the Solicitor-General stated in the passage referred to in your letter, it would be possible to authorise the payment of interest on the stock in question from these assets. But, as the Solicitor-General went on to say, it is not proposed to do that, because there are other creditors of the Rhodesian Government besides the stockholders, and to authorise payment of interest on these stocks would be to discriminate in favour of one class of creditor against other classes. The passage referred to was in a debate on 18th April 1967, starting at column 463 of the OFFICIAL REPORT, the then Solicitor-General being Sir Dingle Foot.

That was the limit of it—that there were assets. I have made inquiries in the department since then, and I have seen the document upon which that was based. It was based upon a document which was a summary of a much longer document, and there had obviously been a misunderstanding. It was a misunderstanding arising out of a precis, an inaccurate precis, of a much longer document, There was no recent assurance, and certainly no assurance of substantial assets. I hope that that answers my hon. and learned Friend's question.

Mr. S. C. Silkin (Dulwich)

May I now return to the admittedly somewhat narrow question of Mr. Franklin's costs? I accept that the Government may have no legal obligation in relation to those costs, but, as my right hon. and learned Friend said, one of the two purposes of the order is to do equity between the various stockholders, quite apart from the position of Her Majesty's Government. Can equity be done between Mr. Franklin and the other stockholders if, as a result of Mr. Franklin's action in bringing proceedings, the order is brought in and Mr. Franklin has to pay his own costs and all the other stockholders do not have to pay any? Will the hon. and learned Gentleman at least agree to think again about that aspect of the matter and see whether the Government could dip their hand not very far into their pocket in order to do equity in that way?

The Solicitor-General

Mr. Franklin's costs in seeking his petition of right would under the order be part of the judgment and he will be entitled to prove that before the Commission. As regards his costs in the proceedings in which he is now a defendant for a declaration as to whether these funds are funds of the Southern Rhodesian Government, which followed his seeking that from the bank, I say again that this is a matter of litigation in which the Government are not concerned, and the Government are not prepared to set a precedent by saying that they will indemnify him.

The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) again repeated that the United Kingdom Government are now the legitimate Government of Southern Rhodesia, and I have dealt with that. He says that we stand in the shoes of the former Government. That is not so. I emphasise again that Her Majesty's Government have not succeeded to either the assets or the liabilities of the Southern Rhodesian Government or to any responsibility in relation to servicing the stock.

Mr. Hooson

Surely the hon. and learned Gentleman is taking an exceptionally legalistic view of this. When a Crown colony is in rebellion surely the only legitimate Government in the eyes of the world is Her Majesty's Government and it is for Her Majesty's Government to assume certain responsibilities in regard to Rhodesia, but to discard these seems quite wrong.

The Solicitor-General

With respect to the somewhat curious liberal thinking of the hon. and learned Gentleman, when one is dealing with as important a constitutional problem as who, if anyone, is now the legal Government of Southern Rhodesia, it is not one on which one can be accused of taking too legalistic a view. I have already said there is no legal Government of Southern Rhodesia and this Government have not succeeded it.

Sir J. Foster

Does not my hon. and learned Friend see the difference between admitting the other bondholders pari passu with Mr. Franklin because they all have a right of action? Does he not see the difference between that and admitting Government creditors who have no right of action?

The Solicitor-General

The only reason the stockholders were originally given the right of action was that the sums claimed would be small in many cases. It would be impossible to expect stockholders whose interest due might be in arrears for a short time to start proceedings in Southern Rhodesia and therefore these special provisions were made. Other creditors whom one would expect ordinarily to be resident, for example, in England and to have a large claim against the Southern Rhodesian Government would be those who were in a position to pursue that claim in the courts of Southern Rhodesia. In the case of governments one Government would not sue another Government but arrangements would be made between them to satisfy claims that might arise.

The position has changed because now it is impossible for someone to sue in the local courts in Rhodesia. The usual arrangements which exist between Governments no longer exist and therefore in these exceptional circumstances there was merely a procedural right given to stockholders in order to save them the expense and trouble of having to sue in Southern Rhodesia. There are the exceptional circumstances in which creditors and Her Majesty's Government in this country are prevented from taking steps to recover their money—the taxpayers' money—arrangements which would have existed had UDI not occurred. [Interruption.]

The hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) appears to express some concern about whether this is late night retrospection. I am delighted to see him here so late. I am surprised he knows very much

Question accordingly agreed to.

about what happens here late at night, particularly in Committee.

The question was raised of the problem of the overruling of the court decision. But the order does not say, as happened in the Burmah Oil case, or as would have happened if we had set aside the whole of the Reserve Bank's funds, that they could not be touched, thereby providing completely an alternative to the first-come, first-served principle, a share of the cake to all—the principle that the taxpayers have an equal right to a share in anything which the court might find is the property of the Southern Rhodesian Government and which therefore might be used in any proceedings.

Accordingly I invite the House to accept the order.

Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 90, Noes 24.

Division No. 211.] AYES [11.51 p.m.
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.)
Atkins, Humphrey Haselhurst, Alan Page, Rt. Hn. Graham (Crosby)
Awdry, Daniel Havers, Sir Michael Parkinson, Cecil
Benyon, W.

Hawkins, Paul Pounder, Rafton
Biffen, John Hayhoe, Barney Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.
Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis
Butler, Adam (Bosworh) Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.) Raison, Timothy
Campbell, Rt. Hn. G. (Moray & Nairn) Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame Patricia Redmond, Robert
Carlisle, Mark Howell, David (Guildford) Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)
Chapman, Sydney Hutchison, Michael Clark Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher King, Tom (Bridgwater) Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.)
Clark, William (Surrey, E.) Kinsey, J. R.

Royle, Anthony
Clegg, Walter Kirk, Peter Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Cooke, Robert Kitson, Timothy Shelton, William (Clapham)
Coombs, Derek Knight, Mrs. Jill Sinclair, Sir George
Cormack, Patrick Knox, David Spence, John
Dean, Paul Lamont, Norman Sproat, Iain
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.

Lane, David Stanbrook, Ivor
Drayson, G. B.

MacArthur, Ian Tebbit, Norman
Dykes, Hugh McLaren, Martin Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)
Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir John Maudling, Rt Hn. Reginald Waddington, David
Eyre, Reginald Mawby, Ray Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Fenner, Mrs. Peggy Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.

Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)
Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton) Money, Ernle Ward, Dame Irene
Fowler, Norman More, Jasper Weatherill, Bernard
Fox, Marcus Morrison, Charles Wells, John (Maidstone)
Gibson-Watt, David Murton, Oscar Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Gower, Raymond Neave, Airey Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Gray, Hamish Nicholls, Sir Harmar TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Green, Alan Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael Mr. Michael Jopling and
Gummer, J. Selwyn Osborn, John Mr Kenneth Clarke.
Austick, David Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone) Soref, Harold
Biggs-Davison, John Moate, Roger Stuttaford, Dr. Tom
Farr, John Montgomery, Fergus Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)
Fell, Anthony Pardoe, John Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy
Grieve, Percy Quennell, Miss J. M. Trew, Peter
Hordern, Peter Rees, Peter (Dover) Wall, Patrick
James, David Ridley, Hn. Nicholas TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Jessel, Toby Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Mr. David Steel and
King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Rost, Peter Mr. Emlyn Hooson.


That the Southern Rhodesia (Distribution to Creditors) Order 1973 (S.I., 1973, No. 1226), a copy of which was laid before this House on 17th July, be approved.

  1. ADJOURNMENT 12 words
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