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Friday, 4 March 1927

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Vice-President of the Executive Council) . - I move-

That the bill be now read a second time.

This is a short machinery bill designed principally to facilitate transactions and clear up certain matters in connexion with the inscription of stock. The first amendment proposed to be made relates to friendly societies, and lays down the procedure to be followed in connexion with the inscription of stock in the names of friendly societies or their tranches, and transactions in such stock. Under the Inscribed Stock Act, stock can only bo registered in the name of a "person," and under the Acts Interpretation Act " person " includes a body politic or corporate, but does not include a friendly society unless it is registered as a corporation under a State act. Very few societies are so registered. Friendly societies are thus in a different position from companies, whose officers are authorized by law to act in their names, and have common seals and prescribed methods of affixing those seals. Under the law as it at present stands, stock purchased by a friendly society cannot be inscribed in the name of the society, but can only be registered in the names of individuals without any reference to the society. This is obviously undesirable, and creates a considerable amount of risk to the societies themselves. It is desired to encourage friendly societies to invest their funds in Commonwealth Government Inscribed Stock, and provision is therefore being made in this amendment for stock to be inscribed in the name of any friendly society, or branch of a society, which the Registrar of Inscribed Stock is satisfied is registered under the laws of any State. Under the amendment, an application for inscription of stock by a society must be signed by two or more persons appointed by the society or branch, and transactions in relation to such stock must be authorized by the persons appointed in that behalf by the society, or branch of the society. The second amendment - clause 3 - dealswith the transmission of amounts of stock of £100 or under, held by deceased loan subscribers, who have no other estates, and whose relatives desire to avoid the expense of taking out probate of the will or letters of administration. A similar principle is already to be found in the Commonwealth Bank Act, in regard to savings bank moneys held on deposit, and this amendment would give a certain amount of relief in the case of small subscribers to our loans. The third amendment is designed to clear up a matter about which, at present, there is some doubt, namely, the right of any State to impose stamp duty on documents that are used in connexion with stock and bond transactions on the market. Section 52a of the present act already provides that stock certificates and certain other documents specified in that section shall not be liable to stamp duty, but the section hardly goes far enough, and it is proposed to provide that all documents relating to the purchase or sale of Commonwealth stock or bonds shall also be exempt from State stamp duty. The last amendment repeals section 57 of the act, which requires a certain return to be laid before Parliament. Much of the information contained in that return is, however, supplied in the annual finance statement presented to Parliament, while under the National Deht Sinking Fund Act the National Debt Commission is required to report its transactions annually to Parliament. As the information presented to Parliament is thus duplicated it is proposed to repeal section 57. That is all the amendments the bill contemplates. Honorable senators will see that they are all of a minor character, which should commend them to the Senate.

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