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Lords Chamber

Volume 116: debated on Thursday 30 May 1940

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House Of Lords

Thursday, 30th May, 1940.

The House met at four of the clock, The LORD CHANCELLOR on the Woolsack.

Saint Mary Magdalene Hospital (Newcastle-Upon-Tyne) Bill Hl

Read 2a , and committed.

Business Of The House

My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing on the Paper in my name.

Moved, That Standing Order No. XXXIX be considered in order to its being suspended for this day's sitting.—( Viscount Caldecote.)

On Question, Motion agreed to, and ordered accordingly.

Ministry Of Health Provisional Order (Blackburn) Bill

House in Committee (according to Order) on re-commitment of the Bill: Bill reported without amendment.

National Loans (No 2) Bill

4.3 p.m.

Brought from the Commons, endorsed with the Certificate from the Speaker that the Bill is a Money Bill within the meaning of the Parliament Act, 1911, and read 1a .

Then, Standing Order No. XXXIX having been suspended:

My Lords, I move that this Bill be now read a second time. The Bill contains, as your Lordships will see, two operative clauses, the first of which provides in respect of the present financial year what has been enacted for the previous financial year by the National Loans Act passed in November last. The provision is to this effect. It is a provision to confer power on the Treasury to raise money by borrowing in any manner that the Treasury think fit, and it therefore dispenses with any need for separate Parliamentary authority for a loan on each occasion that a loan has to be raised. Such a provision is manifestly necessary in time of war; indeed there are precedents for it not only in every year of the last war but going back to the Boer War. This clause of the Bill is I think universally admitted to be required, and I need say no more about it except perhaps this. I should point out, as your Lordships will see if you examine the terms of Clause 1, that since the power which the Bill confers on the Treasury expires at the end of the financial year it is necessary to add authority for an additional amount not exceeding £250,000,000 in case fresh borrowing by means of a market loan has to be effected immediately after the end of the present financial year and before further statutory powers have been obtained. Such, my Lords, is the provision of the first clause of the Bill.

The second clause deals with a separate matter, and, as it is a new provision so far as the Statute Book is concerned, your Lordships may wish me briefly to explain its purport. When the Government issue a market loan—such as the £300,000,000 of 3 per cent. War Loan which was successfully issued last March or the 2 per cent. Conversion Loan 1943–45 which was offered last January in connection with the repayment of the 4½ per cent. Conversion Loan—it is usual, as your Lordships know, for the prospectus to contain alternative offers as to the form which the Government security may take. The subscriber may choose which offer he will take. One of those forms is that of bonds to bearer which, therefore, of course, pass from hand to hand without any means of checking changes of ownership. My Lords, when Germany invades a neighbouring country, say Holland or Belgium by way of example, that is accompanied, we may be sure, by the seizure forthwith of anything which the invader can lay hands on which might add to his resources, and bearer bonds issued by the British Government would be valuable booty and might be disposed of through neutral buyers. This is a hole, therefore, which, as far as possible, must be stopped.

I am glad to say that the Treasury have not as yet issued any bonds to bearer under either of the loans to which I have referred, though certificates entitling owners to such bonds have been issued where the subscriber has so requested. We therefore propose in this second clause of the Bill to enact that:
"Notwithstanding anything in any contract made by or on behalf of the Treasury before the commencement of this Act in relation to the issue of securities under the National Loans Act, 1939, the Treasury shall not be required to issue any such securities in the form of bonds to bearer or bond certificates to bearer."
The result, as your Lordships will see, will be that these loans will in future only be held in a form requiring registration of the holder, which will provide a check against their getting into improper and enemy hands.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a ;—( The Lord Chancellor.)

4.10 p.m.

My Lords, my noble friends and myself do not propose to offer any formal opposition to this measure. It is short but of great importance, and is designed to satisfy urgent and imperative needs. We think that Clause 2 is justified by the circumstances of our time, and that the precaution against stocks falling into the hands of people not entitled to them is entirely wise. We have pleasure in supporting the measure.

On Question, Bill read 2a ; Committee negatived.

Bill read 3a , and passed.

National Service (Channel Islands) Bill Hl

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.

4.11 p.m.

My Lords, I crave the indulgence which I believe is usually granted to a newcomer to your Lordships' House, more especially as during the short period since I was called to my present office we have been living under great strain. I have not been able therefore to give that time to a study of the procedure and forms of debate in your Lordships' House which I certainly would have been able to give at any other time. The purpose of the Bill to which I now ask your Lordships to give a Second Reading is to legalize the enlistment of men called up in the Channel Islands under the local national service laws for service in the armed forces of the Crown. Though compulsory service has always existed in the Islands in some form or another for the purposes of defence, the islanders have by ancient charter been immune from serving outside the Channel Islands, except for the purpose of rescuing the Sovereign. Shortly after the outbreak of war the States of the Islands waived this traditional right and decided to offer men who were fit for service abroad to serve in the armed forces of the Crown under the same conditions as men in this country.

The Jersey States have passed and the Guernsey States will shortly pass local laws similar to the National Service (Armed Forces) Act of 1939, but these local Acts cannot operate outside the insular jurisdiction, and in order to make enlistment under the insular jurisdiction valid for all purposes outside the Islands further legislation by Parliament at Westminster becomes necessary. Accordingly this measure provides that:
"Where a notice has been served under any law of any of the Channel Islands…calling upon any person for service outside the Channel Islands in one of His Majesty's armed forces, that person shall…be deemed to have been duly entered or enlisted for service in the force so specified,"
and the period of service will be from the date specified to the end of the present emergency. The Bill has been introduced in order to give effect to the wishes of the islanders as expressed through their own Legislatures, and if I may say so it will give further evidence of the passionate determination of all His Majesty's subjects to give the whole of their resources for victory. It is proposed to ask your Lordships to take the Bill through its remaining stages to-day, if the Second Reading is agreed to. I beg to move that the Bill be now read a second time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a .—( Lord Croft.)

4.15 p.m.

My Lords, I rise to offer a double welcome. The first welcome is to the Bill itself as evidence of the self-evident patriotism of the Channel Islands, whose inhabitants have supplied in the past so many splendid seamen for the Royal Navy and whose patriotism is known all over the world. My noble friends welcome the Bill for that reason. The other welcome is to my noble friend Lord Croft. I congratulate him on his appointment to important office, which, if I may be allowed to say so, is much belated, as those who knew his stature in debate in another place will agree. I suppose it should be taken as another support for Professor Einstein's very intricate theories that my noble friend Lord Croft and myself are supporting the same Government.

4.16 p.m.

My Lords, I do not think there ought to be a welcome only from one side of your Lordships' House, and on behalf of many friends of the noble Lord who has recently joined us I would like to say that we are glad to see him here and that we congratulate him upon his appointment. There is one thing about the noble Lord: he does make himself audible. That is not always the case, I am afraid, with some members of the Government Bench. I am getting somewhat deaf in my old age, and it is rather difficult to hear some of them. However, we have a champion voice in the person of the noble Lord and we welcome him here. I would also like to re-echo what my noble friend Lord Strabolgi said about the patriotism of the Channel Islands. It is a pity that my noble friend Lord Portsea is not here to say a few words about that. I heartily welcome this Bill and also the presence of my noble friend in this House.

4.17 p.m.

My Lords, perhaps I may be allowed to add on behalf of my noble friends on this Bench a word of welcome to the noble Lord. His presence here we all feel will add vivacity to our debates and also, I am sure, contributions of serious value. I must also state the pleasure which we feel in observing that the Channel Islands, that most interesting part of these Islands, join as they have always done in the past in making their contribution to the welfare and defence of the Empire.

On Question, Bill read 2a ; Committee negatived.

Then, Standing Order No. XXXIX having been suspended, Bill read 3a , and passed, and sent to the Commons.

Marriage (Scotland) (Emergency Provisions) Bill, Hl

Read 3a (according to Order), and passed, and sent to the Commons.

House adjourned during pleasure.

House resumed.

Royal Commission

The Royal Assent was given to the following Bill:

National Loans (No. 2).

House adjourned during pleasure.

House resumed.

Business Of The House

5.13 p.m.

My Lords, I beg to ask the noble Viscount the Leader of the House if he can make any statement about the business of the House.

My Lords, it is proposed that the House should meet at four o'clock on Tuesday next, the 4th June, when my noble friend Lord Breadalbane is asking a question about the Local Defence Volunteer Force and the co-ordination of arrangements for communication and transport. At present there is no business on the Paper for either Wednesday or Thursday next, but I think it would be advisable, and probably in accordance with your Lordships' wishes, that the House should meet, if only formally, at the usual time on each of those days in case there is any matter on which His Majesty's Government might wish to consult or inform the House.

House adjourned at thirteen minutes past five o'clock.