Clause 1

Part of Debt Relief (Developing Countries) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:30 am on 9th March 2010.

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Photo of David Gauke David Gauke Shadow Minister (Treasury) 9:30 am, 9th March 2010

I am seeking to clarify whether the Bill already does what the right hon. Gentleman suggests. If I develop my point, perhaps I can also deal with his intervention more fully. The words

“potentially eligible for debt relief under the initiative” suggests that it is not a cut-off point, although I note that the explanatory notes to the Bill refer to

“countries that have been identified”, which suggests that it is a cut-off point. They go on to state:

“Five countries currently fall into this country.”

The word “currently” suggests that the position could change, and that it is not a cut-off point. It is fair to raise such an issue because the general thinking behind the Bill and the clause is to ensure that it is retrospective. There are good reasons for that, which we shall debate in a moment or so. The intention is to say, “Here are particular debts that will, at the date of commencement, fall within the regime set out in the Bill and to which the debt reduction mechanisms will apply.”

Subsection (11) states:

“If the terms of the Initiative are amended after commencement in such a way as to change a relevant eligibility condition, this Act has effect as if they had not been so amended.”

The intention is largely to say, “This is where we are now; this has happened in the past; these particular loans are effectors”.

There is a considerable attempt to provide certainty regarding where the Bill actually applies. It could be understood to mean that—in the case of subsequent changes of facts in a given area, such as a country becoming potentially eligible—debts not currently affected by the Bill would become so affected. That may be an incorrect way of interpreting it, but my intention in tabling the amendment is to seek clarity on that point.