§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ LORD HYLTON
My Lords, this is a Bill to make provision for the special obligations incurred on behalf of His Majesty's Government for the purposes of the present war, or in connection therewith. I am informed that the Bill concludes a series of War Obligations Bills passed during the war to cover undertakings given by His Majesty's Government which involved financial obligations extending beyond the financial year. If any such obligations involve actual expenditure, Estimates, as your Lordships are aware, are presented in due course. The present Bill is merely a means of obtaining at the earliest moment Parliamentary authority for what the Government has undertaken. I am authorised to say that no more general Bills of this kind will be presented.
If your Lordships glance at the Bill you will see that Clause 1 covers obligations, of a like kind to those covered by previous Bills, entered into in the period from August 8 last—when the last War Obligation Bill was passed—to the present date. The main obligations covered by it are £6,000,000 worth of bills drawn for the purchase of sugar. This obligation is purely technical, because no actual payment is involved as the bills are met by receipts from the sales of sugar. Clause 2 applies to a new head of obligation namely, that to Messrs. Pearson & Company in order to pay them the actual expenses they have incurred in boring for oil in the Midlands, up to a sum of £1,000,000 sterling. Clause 3 is declaratory, and brings within the definition of a "war litigation" certain guarantees given by the Board of Trade in connection with the flax crop in Ireland. The maximum liability, I am told, may be about £400,000, 630 but the actual payment required should be much less.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Hylton.)
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.