Company Law Reform Bill [Lords]

– in a Public Bill Committee on 20th June 2006.

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[Mr. Eric Illsley in the Chair]

Motion made, and Question proposed [15 June],

That—

(1) during proceedings on the Company Law Reform Bill [Lords] the Standing Committee shall (in addition to its first meeting at 9.00 a.m. on Thursday 15th June) meet—

(a) at 1.00 p.m. on Thursday 15th June;

(b) at 10.30 a.m. and 4.30 p.m. on Tuesday 20th June;

(c) at 9.00 a.m. and 1.00 p.m. on Thursday 22nd June;

(d) at 10.30 a.m. and 4.30 p.m. on Tuesday 27th June;

(e) at 9.00 a.m. and 1.00 p.m. on Thursday 29th June;

(f) at 10.30 a.m. and 4.30 p.m. on Tuesday 4th July;

(g) at 9.00 a.m. and 1.00 p.m. on Thursday 6th July;

(h) at 10.30 a.m. and 4.30 p.m. on Tuesday 11th July;

(i) at 9.00 a.m. and 1.00 p.m. on Thursday 13th July;

(2) the proceedings shall be taken in the following order: Clauses 1 to 137; Clauses 253 to 361; Clauses 604 to 641; Clauses 676 to 680; Clauses 694 to 777; Schedule 4; Clauses 778 to 795; Schedules 5 to 7; Clauses 796 to 806; Schedule 8; Clauses 807 to 812; Clauses 821 to 846; Schedule 10; Clauses 847 to 849; Schedule 11; Clauses 850 to 871; Schedule 12; Clauses 872 to 881; Schedule 13; Clauses 882 to 893; Schedule 14; Clauses 894 to 901; Schedule 15; Clauses 902 to 919; Clauses 921 to 925; Clauses 139 to 238; Schedule 1; Clauses 239 to 252; Clauses 362 to 529; Clauses 642 to 648; Schedule 2; Clauses 649 to 675; Schedule 3; Clauses 530 to 603; Clauses 681 to 693; Clause 138; new Clauses; new Schedules; Clauses 813 and 814; Schedule 9; Clauses 815 to 820; Clause 920; Schedule 16; remaining proceedings on the Bill;

(3) the proceedings shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at 5.00 p.m. on Thursday 13th July.—[Margaret Hodge.]

Question again proposed.

Photo of Eric Illsley Eric Illsley Labour, Barnsley Central

We begin this morning by resuming the debate on the Government’s second programme motion. Debate may last for no more than the seven minutes remaining of the 30. I call the hon. Member for Solihull (Lorely Burt) to resume her speech.

Photo of Crispin Blunt Crispin Blunt Opposition Whip (Commons)

On a point of order, Mr. Illsley. Happily, the opportunity afforded to us by the break in the debate allowed me to consult “Erskine May” and pick up a point that I should have picked up when we began to discuss the second motion in the Programming Sub-Committee.

The motion is so substantially the same as that rejected by the Committee last week that it is my contention that it is out of order. Page 388 of “Erskine May”, which refers to matters that have already been decided during the same Session, says:

“Whether the second motion is substantially the same as the first is finally a matter for the judgment of the Chair.”

If we are considering a motion that is substantially the same as the first, I would contend that altering the time-out for the Committee by only one hour, as is self-evidently the case, means that this motion has already been substantially decided on by the Committee.

The point of substance here is that the Opposition are anxious that the Government and their draftsmen should have enough time to come forward with their amendments on the consolidation effect. We see the summer recess as an opportunity for that and we would like the out-date to be not 13 July, but 19 October.

That is the substantive point, but the technical and procedural one is self-evident—this is substantially the same motion. It has already been rejected by the Committee and cannot be put to us again.

Photo of Eric Illsley Eric Illsley Labour, Barnsley Central

I have listened to the hon. Gentleman’s point and, obviously, taken advice on the issue in the short time that I had available this morning. Given that we are now some 23 minutes into the 30-minute allocation of time for the programme motion and that the Programming Sub-Committee has already agreed that motion—albeit with some reservations on the part of the Opposition—I am not prepared to reverse the decision that I made to consider the programme motion.

In my view, this is not a procedural issue as such. It is a matter for debate as to whether the programme motion has substantially altered. I have made the ruling and will stick with it. We will continue with the motion as it stands.

On the substantive point of extending the out-date, we rehearsed that last Thursday in the Programming Sub-Committee and in the opening debate. Obviously, there may well be a further meeting of the Programming Sub-Committee, when the hon. Gentleman will again have the opportunity to press for further time for the Bill. At the moment, that is still in the hands of the usual channels. I hope that deals with his point.

Photo of Crispin Blunt Crispin Blunt Opposition Whip (Commons)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Illsley. I have to accept your ruling.

Photo of Lorely Burt Lorely Burt Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Minister (Northern Ireland)

I am heartened by your words, Mr. Illsley, regarding the possible flexibility on further time. As I was saying in the previous sitting, we are disappointed, particularly in view of the fact that the Bill has been seven years in gestation, and four more days to get the consolidation right would have been helpful, not least for the civil servants, who need the time.

Photo of Margaret Hodge Margaret Hodge Minister of State (Industry and the Regions)

This morning, we are anxious to proceed with the meat of the clauses that we must consider, and we in the Government are keen to reach agreement with other parties represented in Committee. If we can, we will have further discussions about additional time. If we can reach an understanding, we will return to the Committee with a fresh programme motion. It is probably best if we reach such an outstanding outside the Committee and get on with the Bill today.

Photo of Lorely Burt Lorely Burt Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Minister (Northern Ireland)

I am grateful to the Minister for those words. She began by saying that we will be considering the Bill in a spirit of conciliation, so I hope that we can achieve that. Without further ado, I shall sit down and let us get on with our consideration.

Question put:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 10, Noes 8.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Clauses 1 to 7 ordered to stand part of the Bill.