“(d) renew or extend the period of maturity of any securities; or
“(e) purchase, sell or otherwise transfer any stock, shares or securities or any interest therein, or the benefit of any agreement conferring a right to receive any stock, shares or securities, if the stock, shares or securities were issued, sub-divided or consolidated, or renewed or the period of maturity thereof extended, or the agreement was made, as the case may be, at any time between the 18th day of January, 1915, and the 24th day of February, 1919, and the permission of the Treasury was not obtained to the issue, sub-division, consolidation, renewal or extension or the making of the agreement, as the case may be.
“(2) No person shall
except under and in pursuance of a licence
granted by the Treasury—
“(a) buy or sell any stock, shares or other securities except for cash or when the purchase or sale takes place in any recognised Stock Exchange, subject to the rules or regulations of such exchange.
“(b) buy or sell any
stock, shares or other securities which have
not remained in physical possession in the United Kingdom since
the 30th September, 1914.
“(3) A licence granted
under this regulation may be granted
subject to any terms and conditions specified therein.
“(4) If any person acts in contravention of this regulation, or if any person to whom a licence has been granted under this regulation subject to any terms or conditions fails to comply with these terms or conditions, he shall be guilty of a summary offence against these regulations.
“(5) In this regulation
the expression ‘securities’ includes
Bonds, Debentures, Debenture stock, and marketable securities.”
It will be seen at once that the terms of this document, on any interpretation of them, go far beyond the intentions expressed in what may be called the official preamble and in the new Committee’s terms of reference. One of the clauses seems, with all deference to its august composers, to be merely silly. This is (1)(c) forbidding sub-division of securities. If a L10 share is split into ten L1 shares this operation cannot make the smallest difference to the supply of capital for essential industries or cause any drain on the Foreign Exchanges. I am assured by those who have delved into the official intention that the reason for the objection of the old Committee to splitting schemes, on which this new prohibition is based, was that splitting made shares more marketable and popular and so more likely to compete with War Bonds. But a mere sale of shares, split small and so popularised, does not absorb any capital. That only happens when, money is put into some new form of industry. If A, who holds ten L20 shares, is enabled to dispose of them to B because they are split into 200 L1 shares, then, A instead of B has got the money and has to invest it in something. The amount of capital available for investment is not diminished by a halfpenny. This regulation is just a piece of short-sighted tyranny which exasperates without doing the smallest good to anybody.