Clause 28

Serious Crime Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at on 3 July 2007.

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Powers to wind up companies etc: England and Wales

Amendment proposed [this day]: No. 36, in clause 28, page 16, line 28, after ‘to’, insert ‘—(a) ’.—[Mr. Coaker.]

Question again proposed, That the amendment be made.

Photo of Joe Benton Joe Benton Labour, Bootle

I remind the Committee that with this we are discussing the following: Government amendments Nos. 37 to 49

Government amendment No. 200

Government amendment No. 201

Government new clause 15—Powers to wind up: supplementary.

Photo of Vernon Coaker Vernon Coaker Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office) (Crime Reduction)

Good afternoon, Mr. Benton. Welcome back to the Committee. You will notice that there is a bit of a change of membership, but we shall still be proceeding in good heart and with good debate.

I wish to turn to the point made by the hon. Member for Hornchurch in response to my formally moving the various Government amendments. He referred to what the applicant authorities will give consideration to when deciding whether it is in the public interest to make an application for the winding up of a body. To put the matter in context, I wish to emphasise the two-part nature of the winding-up process—as the hon. Gentleman did. When an organisation has been convicted of the offence of a breach of an order, the applicant authority will consider whether it is in the public interest to petition the court to have it wound up. It is then up to the court to consider separately whether it is also just and equitable for the organisation to be so wound up. I did not mean to refer to the director of the applicant authority this morning. I apologise.

The purpose of the clause is to deal with instances, even though they might be few, when an organisation is being used effectively as a shell or front for serious criminal activity, is producing or doing little or nothing of worth and is being used to cause harm through serious crime. The applicant authorities will be considering that when looking at the public interest and, effectively, whether the organisation is still a  legitimate concern and working towards a legitimate legal end or whether it is simply a vehicle for criminal purposes.

As I made clear, when the latter is the case, it will still be for the courts to make a separate determination whether it would also be just and equitable for the organisation to be wound up. That will include a consideration of what effect the winding-up will have on third parties, such as the customers or creditors of the organisation. We believe that it is an effective sanction with adequate protections in place to ensure that it occurs only when appropriate.

All the amendments are technical and would improve the Bill and, now that I have answered the hon. Gentleman’s specific points, I hope that the Committee will support them.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments made: No. 37, in clause 28, page 16,line 29, leave out ‘as if it were’ and insert ‘; and

(b) the company’s winding up;

as it applies in relation to’.

No. 38, in clause 28, page 16, line 30, leave out ‘(petition for’ and insert

‘for the winding up of a company and the company’s windingup (’.

No. 39, in clause 28, page 16, line 43, leave out ‘has effect’ and insert

‘applies for the purposes of this section’.

No. 40, in clause 28, page 17, line 2, after ‘appropriate,’, insert ‘in relation’.

No. 41, in clause 28, page 17, line 3, at end insert ‘and the relevant body’s winding up’.

No. 42, in clause 28, page 17, line 9, at end insert—

‘( ) No petition may be presented to, or order to wind up made by, a court in Scotland by virtue of this section in respect of a company, partnership or relevant body whose estate may be sequestrated under the Bankruptcy (Scotland) Act 1985 (c. 66).’.

No. 43, in clause 28, page 17, line 28, leave out ‘Scotland or’.—[Mr. Coaker.]

Clause 28, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.