HL Deb 24 August 1907 vol 181 cc1531-4

Order of the Day, for the consideration of the Commons Amendments, read.


I move that the Commons' Amendments be considered.

On Question, Motion agreed to.


Your Lordships will remember that this Bill was first introduced into your Lordships' House last May. It has been down to the Commons House and there certain Amendments have been made. The two-principal Amendments are these. When the Bill left this House, private companies were asked to file a statement of their assets and liabilities, and it was pointed out when it got to the House of Commons that this would inflict great hardship upon these private companies. After all, private companies do not issue any debentures to the public or any shares. and they consider that they are entitled to preferential treatment. The other House took that view, and have amended the Bill accordingly.

The other Amendment is to Clause 7. This Clause, as it left your Lordships' House, empowered a company which had been in existence for two years to issue capital at a discount. This the Commons have also amended, and they have removed the clause. I believe the noble Lord on the Woolsack was not in favour of this. He thought the original provision, as it was brought before your Lordships' House, was rather dangerous. I would venture to ask the House what course they would wish me to go through—whether they prefer that I should go through all the Amendments, many of which are drafting Amendments, or take them altogether. I may say that the Board of Trade are perfectly willing to accept the Bill as it at present stands.

Moved, "That the Commons Amendments be agreed to."—(The Earl of Granard.)


said that so far as they on that Bench we re-concerned, they were willing to leave the matter in the hands of the noble Lord. The Bill, as the noble Lord had reminded their Lordships, had been discussed at a very much earlier period of the year. At that time, noble Lords who were interested in the matter had not gone on their holidays, and there were then a great many commercial and legal Lords present. These had now all gone away, except the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack. Therefore they must take all their legal advice from him, and if he was satisfied that these Amendments were such as ought to be agreed to, he was certainly not in a position to say that he was wrong—on the contrary, he would no doubt be right.


said that the first of the two points the noble Lord (the Earl of Granard) had mentioned was one which he (Lord Balfour of Burleigh) had strongly pressed upon the acceptance of the Government, but they would not accept it. He was very glad to see that the wisdom of another place had convinced them that his proposal was the right one.


It is always a pleasure to find the noble Lord's opinion supported in another place. I ought to tell the House that although I have not in detail gone through all these Amendments, I am acquainted with the two principal Amendments, and with the subject-matter of them. The first is this. This House consented—I am not sure that it liked it—to allowing shares to be issued at a discount. The House of Commons thinks that that ought not to be, and I may say for myself that I have always had a good deal of misgiving on the subject, and I so stated in your Lordships' House when it was before us. Since then I have had an opportunity of communicating with a most distinguished authority, Lord Justice Buckley, who holds a very strong view that such shares ought not to be issued. I have communicated that to the Board of Trade, and the Board of Trade, I may say, was a party to this alteration being made.

With regard to the other important point, I may say it is one in which, to be quite frank, I would have preferred that the Commons Amendment had not been made. It is that certain companies, which may be regarded as private companies, are not to be required to furnish the information in the form of a balance sheet which other companies are expected to supply. I so seldom get my own way that I am not at all surprised that I did not get it in this instance. A great many of your Lordships differed from me, and in the House of Commons apparently it was thought better that private companies should have this privilege. If that be so, I certainly should not think of insisting upon my own opinion. As I say, I have not gone into all the other Amendments, but they are matters which have been approved of by the Board of Trade, and the Bill is one which is wholly non-contentious, and the outcome of the Committee presided over by the predecessor of my right hon. friend.

On Question, Commons Amendments agreed to.