Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Bill

Part of the debate – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:30 am on 17 April 2007.

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Photo of Mark Prisk Mark Prisk Shadow Minister (Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform) 10:30, 17 April 2007

May I add my greetings to you, Mr. Weir? Like the Minister, I do not think that I have been guided through a Bill by you, and I hope that you will be able to treat us all with firmness and fairness. I also welcome the Ministers. I do not know whether we have reached such a state of lawlessness that they need to travel in pairs, but it is nice to see them both and I look forward to debating with them.

Before I touch on the motion, may I endorse what the Minister said about the dreadful shootings in Virginia? I visited the town three years ago and have been on that campus, so I was particularly shocked.

The Bill has, as the Minister said, already been discussed in another place. Therefore, it has already received some important amendments, a number of which were tabled by my noble Friends. I hope that, as the Minister implied, that was a sign that we will take a cross-party approach to the scrutiny process. That process is vital to good legislation, and the work of a Committee such as this—the careful consideration of the words, phrases and meanings of our laws—is essential. That is why we on the Opposition Benches have often opposed the routinely heavy-handed programming of our deliberations by the current Government. I am sad to say that time and again we have faced aggressive timetabling and guillotines. The result of that is that clauses and schedules that need amending, correcting or improving often go unconsidered and undebated.

That is a problem not just because of what it means for the regard that people have for the House but because what we do here affects every constituent and citizen in the land. We must therefore get legislation right. That is why we are pleased to see that, on this occasion, the Government have been willing to resist the temptation to restrain our deliberations. We hope to contribute to them in a positive and thoughtful manner, and hopefully at the end of the process the Bill will be better than it is today.