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New Clause—(Provisions As To Arrestment)

Volume 440: debated on Friday 25 July 1947

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Arrestment in the hands of the Crown or of a Government department or of any officer of the Crown as such shall be competent in any case where arrestment in the hands of a subject would have been competent:

Provided that nothing in the foregoing provisions shall warrant the arrestment of:—
  • (a) any wages or salary payable to any officer of the Crown as such;
  • (b) any money which is subject to the provisions of any enactment prohibiting or restricting assignation or charging or taking in execution; or
  • (c) any money payable by the Crown to any person on account of a deposit in the Post Office Savings Bank or in respect of a war savings certificate or national savings certificate.—[The Lord Advocate.]
  • Brought up, and read the First time.

    I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

    This has to be moved as a new Clause because it was covered by Privilege in another place.

    Once again I would ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman to explain a little further. As I understand it, this new Clause simply means that the private citizen can arrest money in the hands of a Government Department. I do not know whether there should be these exceptions contained in the proviso. It is possible for the ordinary citizen who is owed money by someone in the employ of a private individual, to arrest that money for a debt due to him, within certain limitations. Why should it not be so possible where the debtor is in the employment of the State? I do not follow the point. It may be that it has always been so but, if that is the case, why should it be continued? I do not understand why paragraph (c) is introduced excepting from arrestment moneys in the Post Office Savings Bank. Why should money in the Post Office Savings Bank be in a different position from money in any other bank? Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman explain the situation and tell me whether or not I am right in my interpretation?

    This new Clause simply states the position in Scotland as it exists at present. These rules have existed in Scotland for centuries, and similar rules have existed in England. It is true that quite a number of people take the view that there ought to be a considerable restriction. Hundreds of years ago not so many people were concerned, but since then the number of people who are servants of the Crown has increased. It may well be that there is a case for bringing the axe down now. Obviously, this is not the Bill in which to do it, nor is this the proper time. In the case of the other point raised by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith) I should have said that I propose to accept the Amendment in the name of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hill-head (Mr. J. S. C. Reid) to leave out the last two lines of the new Clause. In accepting it, I am doing what was done in the corresponding English Clause where a similar Amendment was accepted, so that the same rule will operate in both countries. The hon. and gallant Gentleman is right in saying that it still protects Post Office Savings Bank deposits the reason for this is the serious administrative difficulties in which the Post Office would be involved. One can draw money from any post office in any part of the country. Obviously, if an arrestment were lodged in Edinburgh it would not be practicable to inform every sub-postmaster in Great Britain of the existence of that arrestment.

    I note the Lord Advocate's explanation regarding Post Office Savings Banks, and I suggest that if his argument is relevant at all it should be applied to trustee savings banks where also there is the right of withdrawal interchangeable throughout the country. I take it that he intends to accept the Amendment in the name of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hillhead—

    The hon. Gentleman is out of Order in referring to the Amendment. We are dealing now with the new Clause.

    I was merely repeating what the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate said. He said that he proposed to accept it, and I thought that as he said that, I might—

    The hon. Member will have an opportunity of saying what he pleases about the Amendment when we come to it.

    1.0 p.m.

    I confine myself then to the new Clause. I would point out to the Committee that paragraph (c) gives great latitude to a person who might be subject to arrestment. One is entitled to deposit several hundred pounds in the Post Office Savings Bank, one is entitled to have £500 in War Savings Certificates, and I do not think there is any limit to the number of 10s. National Saving certificates which one may hold. Therefore, it is apparent that a very large sum of money might be held by a person who may he liable to arrestment. If there was a desire to limit the amount of such money held by him, it would appear that there is something to be said for this limitation. If paragraph (c) is to remain unamended, I suggest it should be extended to include trustee savings banks, ordinary banks and other national savings, including the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board.

    I do not understand why this is not the proper Bill in which to make these changes in the law, but I accept what the right hon. and learned Gentleman says. I hope that he will consider the matter at some future date and without too much delay.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Clause read a Second time.

    I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Clause, to leave out lines 14 and 15

    The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate has indicated the basis of this Amendment which, as I understand it, brings procedure in Scotland into line with that which obtains in England. Its effect will be to delete
    "in respect of a war savings certificate or national savings certificate."
    The last time I ventured to intervene on a matter of Scottish law I found myself a Member of the Scottish Grand Committee. Although that may have been a privilege, it occasioned some discomfort and, therefore, I do not intend to enlarge my remarks on this Amendment.

    I find myself in disagreement with the right hon. and leaned Member for West Derby (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe). I prefer the Government's new Clause as it stands. In Scotland we have long been encouragers of thrift. This Amendment will limit the amount of thrift and economy which our great nation habitually practises. I think the Government's first thoughts are better than the Opposition's second thoughts. I should be happy to support the Government if they will stand by their Clause, which will give protection to those who invest in Post Office Savings Bank, in War Savings Certificates and National Savings Certificates. A great appeal was made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer—

    The hon. Mamber has slightly misunderstood the Amendment, which does not affect the Post Office Savings Bank.

    The Chancellor is making an appeal for a great extension of National Savings, and this will encourage it. So I will support the Government rather than the Amendment moved by my right hon. and learned Friend.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Clause, as amended, added to the Bill.