As things stand, if a company breaches the takeover code—
I just want to add a couple of words to my last answer. I said that it is not envisaged that members of the appeal committee would have served on the panel, but in the end that will be a matter for the panel to determine, not us. However, that seems to be the situation at the moment.
On clause 652, the panel can issue private or public statements of censure to any persons who breach the code. The penalties have been remarkably successful in regulating public company takeover activity, as we discussed earlier. The loss of reputation that can follow a censure can be devastating, and it provides a good incentive to play by the rules. Subsections (2) to (8) were added to provide a consultation mechanism for any new sanction, including any possible financial penalty. I certainly agree that any such new sanction should require a policy statement and a thorough consultation period, but my question is why the clause is needed at all. I have heard no suggestions—none from companies or the panel—that the penalties system needs changing, so why do the Government consider the clause necessary?
If the panel does not want to change the system, it does not have to, but the clause gives it the authority to do that if it so wishes. As we have set up the panel on a statutory basis, it is important that we give it the powers that we think it may need in future. Any changes will be a matter for the panel.
Belts and braces spring to mind once again, but I hear what the Minister says.