“This is referring not to any previous Companies Act, but to the Companies Act which we are talking about.”—[Official Report, House of Lords, 1 March 2006; Vol. 679, c. GC122.]
I was slightly lost when I read that reference. My reading is that “Companies Acts”, the plural, would under normal circumstances suggest previous legislation. If what Lord Sainsbury said is correct—it is possible that this was picked up on later in the Lords debate, but unfortunately I have obviously not picked up on it—the reference should be to the Bill. If it means previous Acts, it should be somewhat clearer. I would be grateful for clarification.
There is also an issue concerning consolidation. I would hope that the phrase is a reference to “the Act”—as it will grow and be consolidated—so that there is no need to cross-refer back. I would therefore appreciate some clarification from the Minister on whether we are talking about Acts in the plural or an Act, singular.
I have a copy of the Hansard of the debate that took place on that issue in Grand Committee in the Lords. I understand the confusion that arose from it, so let me clarify that we are talking about the Bill, which will become an Act. For clarification, there is no duplication at all.
In the light of the Minister’s comment, might I prevail on her to talk to her officials about whether it is possible to table a minor amendment on Report—I am happy to draft it, if appropriate—to indicate that the Act is meant, rather than the Companies Acts? Although I appreciate the clarification that she has given, not everyone picking up the Bill, which might become an Act, will have that insight, so some further clarification and detail would be helpful.
I look forward to the hon. Gentleman’s drafting, which will be known—I am not sure that I am allowed to use names—as the Brokenshire amendment.