Clause 2. — (Directions with Respect to Documents Required by Foreign Courts, etc.)

Orders of the Day — Shipping Contracts and Commercial Documents Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th July 1964.

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Lords Amendment: In page 3, line 4, at end insert: (3) For the purposes of this section any request or demand for the supply of a document or information which, pursuant to the requirement of any court, tribunal or authority of a foreign country, is addressed to a person in the United Kingdom shall be treated as a requirement to produce or furnish that document or information to that court, tribunal or authority, and directions under this section may be given accordingly for prohibiting compliance therewith.

12 m.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport (Vice-Admiral John Hughes Hallett):

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

The House will recall that Clause 2 of the Bill empowers one of the Ministers named in the Clause to prohibit, in certain circumstances, the furnishing of documents or information in response to a demand from a foreign power or authority.

This Amendment extends the protection thus given, to cover demands which might be imposed indirectly. For example, an American court or agency might order a parent company in America to obtain a document located in England from its British subsidiary. The Amendment will allow the appropriate Minister to make compliance by the subsidiary company illegal in the same way that he could have done had the demand come direct from the foreign authority. Equally, the Amendment will cover the case where, in similar circumstances, a foreign subsidiary company makes a similar request to its British parent company, or where the request is passed from one company to another, both of whom may be subsidiaries of a parent company in another country.

Without this Amendment a British company might feel obliged to comply with such requests in order to shield its associates from the penal consequences of not supplying the information which they had been ordered to produce. If, however, a foreign company is able to plead that its British associate could not lawfully have passed on the information, we think it reasonable to hope that such a plea would be accepted.

Question put and agreed to.