Clause 1 — Temporary validity of certain Orders in Council

Part of Terrorist Asset-Freezing (Temporary Provisions) Bill (Allocation of Time) – in the House of Commons at 8:00 pm on 8th February 2010.

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Photo of Sarah McCarthy-Fry Sarah McCarthy-Fry Parliamentary Secretary, HM Treasury 8:00 pm, 8th February 2010

Obviously the purpose of both amendments is to reduce the period during which the temporary Bill will have effect. Our Bill provides for a date of 31 December, whereas the amendments propose two alternative dates-31 March and 31 July. I think that we are all agreed on the urgent need to get the long Bill on to the statute book as soon as possible, so the issue to address is how much time is needed to give the lasting legislation the proper level of scrutiny and debate. We believe that the lasting Bill deserves full deliberation in both Houses and that it should benefit from evidence and scrutiny provided by external bodies. The proposed date of 31 December provides for that, but the period up to 31 March does not. Given that the urgent need to legislate is resolved by this Bill, we think that the issues deserve more time for consideration so that we can be sure that the legislation is appropriate. If the debate and arguments put forward on Second Reading of this Bill are anything to go by, there will be a vigorous debate.

Using 31 July would provide more time and the option of pre-legislative scrutiny in the coming months. However, given the upcoming general election and recesses, it is not certain that such a date would provide time to scrutinise the long Bill properly. I have heard views from hon. Members on both sides of the House in favour of 31 December, as well as arguments in favour of 31 July -another date has also been proposed. I look forward to listening to any other arguments that are put forward, but I urge right hon. and hon. Members to reflect on the lasting benefits of permanent legislation. I really do not think that setting a close deadline helps, so I ask the hon. Members for Fareham (Mr. Hoban) and for Cambridge (David Howarth) not to press their amendments to a Division.

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