I appreciate that the Government have made several concessions in trying their best, as has been explained, to make sure that this is not compulsory and has not been forced on people. It is another option to add to the several share option schemes that already exist. The huge issue, as the noble Baroness has just said, is why it has to be linked to giving up any employment rights. That is the part that is fundamentally unnecessary.
The last time we debated this, before it went to the other place, I asked the Minister two questions, which he did not answer. The first was whether the Government consulted business properly before going ahead with this. The noble Lord, Lord Adonis, said in his closing speech last time, if I remember correctly, that 160 responses were received when the Government consulted and only three of them were in favour of this scheme. I am sorry, but unless I have got something fundamentally wrong, if you get three out of 160 you do not go ahead with something. You either consult further or you bin the idea because it is no good.
We have heard unanimously all round the House that, from a businessman's point of view, this does not sense. It is absolutely unnecessary to do this, and it is fundamentally wrong for me to ask any of my employees to give up any rights at all. I would want to give them share options because they believe in my business and its future and they will earn the increase in value of their share options.
The next question I asked the Minister was whose idea it was. Why are the Government pursuing this? This House is greatly respected. We defeated this. It went to the other place. It came back, and the last time we voted on it it was defeated by an even bigger majority. To go back and come back again is disrespectful to this House and to what we have done. I appreciate that concessions have been made, but I think that the Government defending it so much is linked to whose idea it is. The press say that it is the Chancellor's idea. If it is, I really question his priorities in trying to push forward something like this when tomorrow it is quite possible that we will hear that we may be in a triple-dip recession, and if not we might certainly bump along the bottom for ever.
We have huge problems and we are trying to push something like this on to business. I can guarantee that it will not work, that it will not be taken up by business, that it has wasted a lot of parliamentary time and that it will waste a lot of legislation. The Government say that they will reduce red tape. This is going to create huge amounts of red tape. Lawyers will have to be consulted; employers will have to compensate for lawyers being consulted. This is not just a dog's breakfast; it is a mad dog's breakfast.