Schedule 9

Company Law Reform Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 1:45 pm on 20th July 2006.

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Index of defined expressions

Amendments made: No. 114, in schedule9,page509line17,at end insert—

‘authorised signatory

section (Authorised signatories)’.

No. 453, in schedule9,page512,leave out line 22.

No. 454, in schedule9,page517,line22,at end insert—

‘small companies regime, for accounts and reports

section 363’.

No. 115, in schedule9,page514,line32,leave out

‘section 362 of the 1985 Act’

and insert

‘section (Overseas branch registers)(1)’.

No. 310, in schedule9,page515,line36,at end insert—

‘qualifying pension scheme indemnity provision (in Chapter 7 of Part 10)

Section (Qualifying pension scheme indemnity provision)’.

[Margaret Hodge.]

Schedule 9, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 815 to 820 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 920 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 16 agreed to.

Amendment made: No. 524, in title,line3,after ‘about’ insert ‘directors’ disqualification,’.—[Margaret Hodge.]

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

On a point of order, Mr. Bercow. As we are coming to the end of the proceedings, I could not let the sitting pass without extending a big thank-you to you and Mr. Illsley for the way that you have chaired the Committee. You have endless patience, consistent good humour and complete and constant fairness, and neither of you ever fell asleep. That is a brilliant performance.

I thank all Committee members, particularly those from the Government Benches. It is very difficult to be a Back-Bench Committee member on a Government Bill, particularly such a long Bill that has taken so many sittings. I thank my hon. Friends for their patience, time, endurance at some points and participation in Committee. he Bill has made history. I am told by the Clerks that, so far as records can tell, it is the longest Bill ever taken in Parliament. It has made history for all sorts of other reasons, not least of which was a two-and-a-half-hour diversionary lecture on takeover panels and a shorter but also diversionary lecture on Eccles cakes. The Committee was extremely lucky not to be bored with  the workings of Barking rugby club, although I am confident it will gain from the proceedings of the Bill.

I have learned a lot. We have cogitated at length on various issues. I shall pick out some that really stimulated me: the differences between success and effectiveness, “alters” and “amends”, assignment and assignation, costs and expenses, shares and stocks—that was an easy one—and de facto and shadow directors. They were all new words for me, and I am sure that I am much wiser for it.

I should also like to express huge thanks to our team of officials, who have supported us so brilliantlyand have worked exceedingly hard throughout consideration of the Bill, even when it was in the House of Lords. They have performed brilliantly. I thank them very much indeed.

I thank the Clerks and officials of the House for their customary excellence in ensuring that everything ran smoothly until Members of Parliament got involved, and particularly for the endless glasses of water that we have been given in this hot place. I thank the police for their courtesy.

Finally, our biggest thanks go to Lizzie Colley, who brought joy to all of us in our darkest moments during the course of the Bill, and who I am sure has benefited fantastically. Maybe she has even almost learned to walk during the last while.

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

Further to that point of order, Mr. Bercow. I too would like to say a few words on the conduct of the Committee. Despite its length—it is a long Bill—I have enjoyed it, mainly due to the general good nature and humour of the proceedings and of Committee members and the generally co-operative approach of the Ministers. The Minister’s offer of a three-day Report was well received in the Conservative party.

We have had exemplary chairmanship from Mr. Bercow, in his first Committee, and from Mr. Illsley. Both of them were calm and decisive when the Committee was occasionally less so. We have also been well helped on our way by the doorkeepers, police, Hansard reporters and Clerks, whom I thank.

I also thank the Bill team, which has always been efficient and helpful. I am sure that that will continue during the summer months as we review the new clauses. Some 30 to 40 City lawyers and accountants have provided me and Lord Hodgson with help on the Bill, and many other interested parties have given us briefings and help of one sort or another. There are too many to name, but I thank them all for their help.

Finally, I thank my hon. Friends for their excellent contributions to the Committee and their support for me. I wish everyone a happy summer break; we need it.

Photo of David Howarth David Howarth Shadow Minister (Energy), Trade & Industry

Further to that point of order, Mr. Bercow, may I add my thanks to all concerned in this exceptionally long Bill, including you and your co-Chair? It must have been an extraordinary introduction to the chairing of a Bill Committees. It used to be the case that, at the end of very long trials,  judges would tell the jurors that they were excused future jury service. I do not know, Mr. Bercow, whether you might put yourself in the same position—and, of course, some members of this Committee might think themselves entitled to the same treatment.

I should like to thank my own colleagues, and everyone on both sides for their forbearance in what seemed something like a trial as we proceeded through the Bill. We have not quite discussed all the big political issues, but we just about managed nearly all of them. I thank the right hon. Member for Leicester, East (Keith Vaz) who, I am sad to say, is not with us, for the one thing that we did not manage to discuss: his excellent new clause, to which we might have to return at a later point. I add my thanks to all the staff and officials who have worked so hard on the Bill. It might not always have been a pleasure to be on this Committee, but it was certainly a privilege and an experience.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Conservative, Buckingham

Perhaps I can conclude by echoing the thanks that have already been expressed from the those on the three Front Benches to all who have facilitated the smooth passage of the Bill. For my part, I am extremely grateful to a number of people. The first is my co-Chair, Mr. Illsley, a senior member of the chairman’s panel, with whom it has been a pleasure and privilege for me to work. He has been thoroughly collegiate, co-operative and helpful throughout and, as this is my first outing, I have been extremely grateful to him. I hope that it will not be judged by the powers that be that it should also be my last; I await the verdict in due course.

I echo the thanks that have been expressed to the police, to the door keepers and to all the members of the Committee for their helpful contributions and their accommodating attitude to the Chair. I want to thank senior executive officer Mark Oxborough, who was in the room until a few moments ago and who has done a great deal of work on the Bill behind the scenes.

From my personal point of view—I hope that others will understand the significance of this in my mind—I am grateful more than I will ever be able to say to three other people. The first is Dr. Mark Egan, who started the work of clerking on the Bill, but who was taken away from it because of family circumstances beyond his control. He is a very respected member of the staff of the House, and I am appreciative of his efforts, his guidance and his patience in dealing with me. The two others are those who, in practice, have clerked the Bill for much of the time, Dr. John Benger and Alan Sandall, who is now immediately on my left. They are very experienced Clerks and were no doubt chosen partly because of the significance, complexity and length of the Bill but possibly even, in part, on account of the knowledge of the powers that be that a completely inexperienced new Chair was going to be tested and needed to be looked after. They have certainly looked after me and I am very grateful.

Finally, I want to thank the Hansard Committee Sub-Editors who have done their jobs faithfully, conscientiously and effectively from start to finish.

Bill, as amended, to be reported.

Committee rose at fourteen minutes past Two o’clock.