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Wednesday, 16 September 1936

Senator BRENNAN (Victoria) (Assistant Minister) . - I move -

That the bill be now T&ad a second time.

The object of the bill, which consists of only one operative clause, is to effect an amendment of the Bills of Exchange

Act 1909-1933 to permit the Commonwealth, if it so decides, to accedo to a Convention on Stamps Laws in connexion with bills of exchange and promissory notes signed at Geneva on the 7th June, 1930. The Convention was signed by Great Britain, but provision is made in it by which non-signatory States may accede to it whether members of the League of Nations or not. The principal provisions of the Convention are contained in article 1, by which the High' Contracting Parties undertake, if necessary, to alter their laws, so that obligations arising out of a bill of exchange or a promissory note or out of the exercise of rights that flow from these documents are not to be subordinated to the provisions regarding payment of stamp duty. Article 1 goes on to provide that this undertaking may be subject to certain conditions as to the suspension of the exercise of rights flowing from the bill of exchange until the payment of the prescribed stamp duties or penalties. Special provision may also be made as to instruments of a type designated as " immediately executory but if a High Contracting Party so chooses, it may restrict its undertaking to bills of exchange only. In a Protocol to the Convention signed on the same date as the Convention, it was agreed that, insofar as concerns the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, the only instruments to which the provisions of the Convention should apply were bills of exchange presented for acceptance or accepted or payable elsewhere than in the United Kingdom. Non-signatory States proposing to accede subject to the same limitation as that applying in respect of the United Kingdom may notify the League of Nations to this effect, and, if no objections have been received by the League within six months of such notification, the limitation is deemed to have been accepted by the parties to the Convention. Legislation was enacted in the United Kingdom in 1933 to give effect to the Convention. Before Australia can accede to the Convention, it seems that the Bills of Exchange Act 1909-1932 would require to be amended along the lines of the British legislation of 1933. As existing legislation is based on the English Bills of Exchange Act, it seems desirable that amendments affecting an English law of this nature should be adopted in the Commonwealth in their entirely, if al all possible. The Government, therefore, proposes to avail itself of the limitation set out in the Protocol and to propose an amendment similar to that enacted in England in 1933.

Section TT of the existing Bills of Exchange Act provides, among other things, that a bill of exchange issued out of Australia is not to be invalid only by reason of the fact that it is not stamped in accordance with the law of the place where it was issued. This section is similar in terms to section 72 of the Bills of Exchange Act, 1SS2 of the United Kingdom. Honorable senators will notice that the existing law relates to bills issued out of Australia only. The amendment of the law made in England in 1933, which is embodied in section 42 of the Finance Act of that year, refers to a " bill of exchange which is presented for acceptance, or accepted, or payable, outside the United Kingdom ". The legislation of the -United Kingdom thus provides both for bills issued in and bills issued out of the United Kingdom. Commou wealth legislation, however, refers only to bill? issued out of Australia.

Proposed new section Tin. covers this matter and is substantially similar in effect to section 42 of the Finance Act, 1933 of the United Kingdom. It provides that a bill issued in Australia and presented for acceptance, accepted, or payable, outside Australia shall not be invalid by reason only that it is not stamped, or is not properly stamped. It is provided further that any such bill may be received in evidence on payment of the proper duty and penalty, if any. Briefly, that is the provision proposed to be inserted in the Bills of Exchange Act, and the reason for the amendment of the law is the necessity for enacting legislation which will enable the Commonwealth to accede to the Convention of 1930 and thus bring Commonwealth law into line with similar legislation in the United Kingdom.

Debate (on motion by Senator Col-

LINGS) adjourned.

Senate adjourned nt 9.1 p.m.

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