Clause 71

Company Law Reform Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 1:15 pm on 22nd June 2006.

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Company names adjudicators

Question proposed, That the clause stand part ofthe Bill.

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Conservative, Hornchurch

The clause makes detailed provision for company names adjudicators, but raises a number of questions. How many company names adjudicators will be created? What will be their annual cost? How will that cost be met? Will the adjudicator service be met out of fees and costs charged to relevant companies or from another source? What functions will be assigned to the chief adjudicator? To whom will the chief adjudicator and the company names adjudicators be accountable? Will appointments be full-time or part-time? How many other staff will be employed? Whose offices will the adjudicators work from? Will the chief adjudicator have a separate office? Where will hearings be held—in court rooms or other buildings? What requirements are there for adjudicators to report on their work to Parliament or any other body?

I would be grateful for some clarification. The wording in clause 71 is brief and talks about the appointment, but we do not have the context or the information about what that will mean practically. I would be grateful for the Minister’s response on at least some of those issues.

Photo of Vera Baird Vera Baird Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs

Does the hon. Gentleman want to know how tall they will have to be, or which gender? I do not know whether they will be full-time or part-time appointments, but it will be possible to job share, I am sure.

I can tell the hon. Gentleman whom the Secretary of State will appoint, if that was one of his questions—I have forgotten because they came out so fast and staccato. It is intended that Patent Office tribunal members will be appointed. The Patent Office will provide the tribunal staff and the costs will be recovered from fees. I shall write with more specific details.

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Conservative, Hornchurch

It would help the Committee to have a better understanding of how the clause will work in practice. I provided my shopping list of questions about the adjudicators, but they underline the serious problem of the lack of detail about the practical arrangements for the new adjudicator service, such as what type of person would be required and how many there would be. Such detail would allow us to get a feel of whether we are talking about a huge organisation or a small one and what precisely we are considering. We do not have that clarity at the moment, and although I will not vote against the clause, that clarification would be helpful. If the Minister writes to me, that will be extremely helpful for all parties.

Photo of Vera Baird Vera Baird Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs

I certainly will write and supply all those details. If the hon. Gentleman wants such information in another case he should let me know prior to the Committee and I shall try to have it available at the right time.

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Conservative, Hornchurch

I am grateful for that. I look forward to receiving some of the details and I will be happy to give the Minister a shopping list as appropriate.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 71 ordered to stand part of the Bill.