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Orders of the Day — Building Societies Bill: Membership and Liability of Members (17 March 1997)

Mr Tim Smith: Is my hon. Friend saying that there are already two classes of saver, in the case of certain resolutions, such as electing directors and calling special general meetings? If there is already a distinction, why cannot we build on it?

Orders of the Day — Building Societies Bill: Membership and Liability of Members (17 March 1997)

Mr Tim Smith: How much?

Orders of the Day — Building Societies Bill: Membership and Liability of Members (17 March 1997)

Mr Tim Smith: I have considerable sympathy with what the hon. Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Mitchell) had to say about the amendment. First, I agree that it is not a satisfactory way in which to legislate. The Bill comprises 47 clauses and nine schedules, all of which are being taken on the Floor of the House and will not receive the detailed consideration that they deserve and would have received in...

Orders of the Day — Building Societies Bill: Membership and Liability of Members (17 March 1997)

Mr Tim Smith: That was what I meant when I used the word "protect". It is because such building societies will have greater commercial freedom that they may be less tempted to go down the public limited company route. I recognise my hon. Friend's point. Against that we must balance the apparent proposal to drop the two-year rule that Parliament clearly wanted to impose in 1986—even though it turns...

New clause 3: Registration of Profit-Related Pay Schemes (11 March 1997)

Mr Tim Smith: There is an important difference between a variation that is extremely small and no variation at all. The new clause refers to a situation in which there is no variation at all, so I do not understand what it would add to the existing arrangement because, to qualify for a PRP scheme, people had to have some element of pay that varied in accordance with movements in profits.

New clause 3: Registration of Profit-Related Pay Schemes (11 March 1997)

Mr Tim Smith: Having listened to the debate, I conclude that new clause 3 would be ineffective and that it is misdirected. The Government have become a victim of their own success. Tax relief on profit-related pay was introduced in 1987 and was generally welcomed. A chart in the Red Book shows how the cost of relief has risen substantially over the past few years, especially since 1991, when it was...

New clause 3: Registration of Profit-Related Pay Schemes (11 March 1997)

Mr Tim Smith: It is not the Minister's new clause. It has been tabled by the Opposition, and we are entitled to ask a few questions about its implications. The hon. Gentleman seems to be shifting his ground and saying that we should place more emphasis on subsection (1), but that is what I have been saying. Why not stick to the first condition and drop the second? Subsection (2) does not make sense. It is...

New clause 4: Distraint etc. of Property Only Under the Supervision of a Court (11 March 1997)

Mr Tim Smith: New clause 4 is far too widely drawn in two respects. In Committee, concern was expressed about clause 54, which deals only with attachment of debts by Customs and Excise. New clause 4 deals not only with attachment of debts, but with matters that are covered by clauses 51 and 52—that is, enforcement by distress and enforcement by diligence. Moreover, it deals not only with Customs and...

Companies (Millennium Computer Compliance) Bill: Amendment of Principal Act (28 February 1997)

Mr Tim Smith: I beg to move amendment No. 1, in page 1, line 11, after 'company', insert 'other than small and medium-sized companies as defined in section 247'.

Companies (Millennium Computer Compliance) Bill: Amendment of Principal Act (28 February 1997)

Mr Tim Smith: I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, East (Mr. Atkinson) on his foresight in introducing the Bill. There is no doubt that British industry and the public sector face a major problem, a problem that may seem to some people to be some way off, since the millennium is nearly three years away. However, anyone who takes the trouble to study that problem will find that the...

Companies (Millennium Computer Compliance) Bill: Amendment of Principal Act (28 February 1997)

Mr Tim Smith: I said that I was not very enthusiastic about the whole Bill, but if we are to impose extra regulations on business, those best placed to cope with them will be large organisations. I believe that large companies are starting to take the problem seriously and, if they were required to comply with the terms of my hon. Friend's Bill, there would be a trickle-down effect. They would place in...

Companies (Millennium Computer Compliance) Bill: Amendment of Principal Act (28 February 1997)

Mr Tim Smith: I fully understand that. I also understand that a car might not start on the morning of 1 January 2000. But I am not happy about using the law to impose a solution on business. I have already said that I fully understand and support my hon. Friend's objectives, but I am not convinced that the Bill is the right way to go about achieving them. That is why I tabled my amendment.

Prayers: Confiscation of Alcohol (Young Persons) Bill (28 February 1997)

Mr Tim Smith: What about Chelsea?

Prayers: Confiscation of Alcohol (Young Persons) Bill (28 February 1997)

Mr Tim Smith: My hon. Friend has talked about not making young people criminals, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Castle Point (Dr. Spink). But clause 1(3) states that a person who fails without reasonable excuse to comply with a requirement imposed on him under subsection (1) is guilty of a criminal offence.

Prayers: Confiscation of Alcohol (Young Persons) Bill (28 February 1997)

Mr Tim Smith: I am sorry to puncture the balloon of euphoria that seems to surround the Bill, which was promoted by Mr. George Spink among others. I understand the problem that the Bill is designed to tackle, but why does it apply only to young persons? Will not people of 18, 19, 20 and possibly older also be involved?

Prayers: Prisons (Alcohol Testing) Bill (28 February 1997)

Mr Tim Smith: Objective testing will be a great step forward. Will the Prison Service as a whole issue guidance to prison governors on appropriate levels—we know, for instance, what the level is for drink driving—or will that be a matter for prison governors? Will governors decide above what level it will be deemed to be a breach of the rules in their prison, so that everyone knows the position?

Prayers: Prisons (Alcohol Testing) Bill (28 February 1997)

Mr Tim Smith: I am not clear about the extent to which alcohol is a problem in prisons. The hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) suggested that practice might vary a lot from one prison to another. I wonder whether my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department could comment on that. My impression of the Prison Service is that performance is pretty patchy, certainly when it comes...

Social Security (19 February 1997)

Mr Tim Smith: The hon. Member for Kingswood (Mr. Berry) conveniently overlooked the fact that any possible beneficial effect from extra resources for education and training from a so-called windfall tax would be outweighed by the costs that Labour would impose on employers—the minimum wage and the social chapter—which would destroy jobs. He also conveniently overlooked the fact that...

Orders of the Day — Police (Property) Bill: Power of Police Authority to Retain Unclaimed Property (7 February 1997)

Mr Tim Smith: How long do the police have to keep property under the 1897 legislation before they can auction it?

Orders of the Day — Police (Property) Bill: Power of Police Authority to Retain Unclaimed Property (7 February 1997)

Mr Tim Smith: How much unclaimed property do the police have in their possession? How much room does it take up? What burden is it placing on the police at the moment? To what extent would that burden be increased if we were to accept the amendment?

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