I add my voice to that of my hon. Friend the Member for Honiton (Mr. Emery). In the Second Reading debate I raised this point about contracts which have been entered into. Already many firms have entered into contracts which will not mature until some months ahead. This raises a very important problem for firms which as a result of this legislation will not be able to take delivery of goods which they have ordered because of the 50 per cent. deposit. Not only will that do the firms concerned considerable harm but they may find themselves liable to prosecution for not carrying out contracts they have entered and subject to heavy damages, and also because they are unable to honour the contracts for sales in this country of the merchandise they intend to import they may be faced with claims for damages because of non-delivery to customers here. This would place them in a serious position.
At one moment the Government say that these people will have no difficulty in getting the money for the deposit and at another moment they say that the whole operation is intended to make it impossible for people to get credit and it is to mop up liquidity. If there are only some who cannot honour contracts because of Government action the Government should consider insulating those who cannot meet their obligations and who might be subjected to legal penalties against the hazard which the Government have created.
If these circumstances arise, there will be representations by companies overseas which have been let down by British firms which have been unable to meet their obligations because of Government action. Other countries may take retaliatory action against us. British exporters to countries where we have fallen down on our obligations will suffer, as will the Government.