HL Deb 20 July 1981 vol 423 cc131-2WA
Lord Strabolgi

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why Amersham International Limited has been described by two other names in the Atomic Energy (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, namely, the Radiochemical Centre Limited and the Radiochemical Company.

Lord Skelmersdale

In the Atomic Energy Authority Act 1971, Section 1 and 2 of which transferred parts of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority's undertaking to British Nuclear Fuels Limited (BNFL) and the Radiochemical Centre Limited (TRC) respectively, those companies are referred to as "the Nuclear Fuels Company" and "the Radiochemical Company" (Sections 1(1) and 2(1)). They are also jointly referred to as "the Companies" (see Section 24(1) of the 1971 Act). This was done for reasons of brevity because the companies are referred to several times in the Act.

The draftsman of the current Bill followed this terminology in the body of the Bill in order to be consistent with the 1971 Act. Section 11(3) of that Act, which is in part disapplied by Clause 1 of the Bill, refers to "either of the Companies". Because of the partial nature of the provision it is necessary to refer to the companies separately. Clause 4(1), the interpretation clause, makes it clear that "the Nuclear Fuels Company" and "the Radiochemical Company" are BNFL and TRC respectively. TRC changed its name to Amersham International Limited on 5th May 1981, that is to say after the Bill had passed the Commons Committee stage. An amendment to the definition of "the Radiochemical Company", in Clause 4(1), was carried at Report stage in the other place making it clear that that company was now called Amersham International Limited. Amending this part of the Bill meant that other references in the Bill to "the Radiochemical Company" did not need to be amended and makes it clear that all the references in the legislation are to the same company. If the words "Amersham International Limited" were to be substituted without explanation that would not be clear. After the change of name the company continued as before and as the same legal person, albeit under a new name.

Section 18 of the Companies Act 1948 makes it plain that a company may change its name and that if it does so under that section its rights and obligations remain precisely the same as they were before the name was changed.

House adjourned at seventeen minutes before midnight.