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New Clause 16 — Names and addresses of members of companies: company application

Part of Orders of the Day – in the House of Commons at 4:00 pm on 18th October 2006.

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Photo of David Howarth David Howarth Shadow Minister (Energy), Trade & Industry 4:00 pm, 18th October 2006

I thank the right hon. and learned Gentleman for his comment. That is a significant problem with the way in which clause 117 is drafted—namely, in terms of purposes. As he says, it is often difficult for courts to have access to the purposes of individuals. Subsection (4) makes use of that concept when it refers to

"requests made for a similar purpose".

It is difficult to get access to people's minds to find out whether their purpose is similar.

The other problem is that clause 117(4) says that the court

"may direct that the company is not to comply with any such request."

That means that the company could be subject to continued harassment in the courts whereby people could make a new request saying that it is not for similar purposes and is therefore not such a request. Even if the court had made an order under clause 117(4), the company, especially in the case of a small business or a business without much in the way of resources, could come under great pressure from organised campaigners working on behalf of people whose purposes were probably nefarious. There is therefore a problem with the protection that clause 117(4) provides. That leads to the question of what other protection might be offered in such circumstances.