Schedule 4

Company Law Reform Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:45 pm on 4th July 2006.

Alert me about debates like this

Amendments of remaining provisions of the Companies Act 1985 relating to offences

Question proposed, That this schedule be the Fourth schedule to the Bill.

Photo of Jonathan Djanogly Jonathan Djanogly Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Solicitor General, Shadow Minister (Justice)

If we are to consolidate, then surely the schedule should be merged into the various parts of the Bill, together with the remaining bits left over in the 1985 Act.

Many of the offences in that Act, such as those under section 429(6), “Failure to send notice etc relating to buy-out of minority shareholders”, section 444(3), “Failure to give information about interests in shares etc” and section 449 on the wrongful disclosure of information, carry 12-month penalties in England but, I note, only six-month penalties in Scotland. Will the Minister explain that disparity in sentencing, which relates to so many offences that if one were a crook it would be much wiser—100 per cent. wiser—to set up a company in Scotland and take one’s criminal chances there because the possible sentences would be so much lighter.

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

Far be it from me to suggest that the hon. Gentleman has the mind of a crook, but he has shrewdly made a good point. I am not responsible for the Scottish legal system, and I am afraid that that is the way it is.

Photo of Jonathan Djanogly Jonathan Djanogly Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Solicitor General, Shadow Minister (Justice)

I hear what the Minister says, but is it not possible for her to make representations to some of her colleagues so that a united approach can be taken to remedy what she has admitted is an anomaly which should be sorted out?

Question put and agreed to.

Schedule 4 agreed to.

Clauses 778 to 780 ordered to stand part of the Bill.