The Minister is seeking power in this section to enable the Corporation to divide its ordinary stock into different classes. There are two ways in which that can be done. One is to divide it into ordinary preference stock and the other into deferred stock. In relation to the Agricultural Credit Corporation, deferred stock will have no meaning at all and therefore I think it is not visualised. The attraction that used to exist in relation to preference stocks is one that has gone completely by the board unless, perhaps, one exempts from that statement the type of redeemable preference stock that can be made under the last Companies Act.
I think it more likely that this phrase is intended to cover voting and non-voting shares. I do not think that in relation to a company set up by this House and that will be financed by public moneys, whether they are direct or by way of guarantee, it is proper in any circumstances that there should be a division between voting and non-voting shares unless the State holds the voting shares. As far as I understand the situation, this is giving the Corporation itself power to deal with this matter. The decision of the Corporation in relation thereto is not subject to the consent of the Minister in the same way as the consent of the Minister is necessary to increase the capital. I am not happy that I have read the Section properly and I should like some guidance from the Minister with regard to it. It says that it shall be lawful for the Corporation, subject to the consent of the Minister, to increase its capital and it goes on to say: "and, if it so thinks fit, to divide ..." If the consent of the Minister is to cover both acts that are intended, it seems to me that the consent of the Minister should be expressed in a much clearer way.
I know from my own experience that there is always consultation about these things but it is far better, when one can, to avoid, in the initial stage, any possible misunderstanding at a later stage. It seems that the division of stock into different classes at the option of the Corporation would, in this particular case, be at the option of the directors. I suggest that there might be some better clarification of this phrase although I accept that, in the case of the ordinary commercial company, it is a normal phrase.