Clause 4 - Extent, commencement and short title

Rating (Coronavirus) and Directors Disqualification (Dissolved Companies) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:15 pm on 8th July 2021.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Luke Hall Luke Hall Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

The clause covers technical areas such as the Bill’s territorial extent, the commencement and the short title. Clause 4(1) sets out that the business rates measure relating to material changes of circumstance in clause 1 extends to England and Wales. However, the application of clause 1 is to England, meaning that in effect it applies only to England. As I said earlier, the Welsh Government yesterday announced their intention to include in the Bill provisions applying to Wales. We will work closely with them on that and take the necessary steps.

Clause 4(2) confirms that the extent of the directors disqualification measure is the same as for the provisions being amended, which means that clause 2 extends to Great Britain and clause 3 to Northern Ireland. The effect is that the measure extends to the whole UK.

Clause 4(4) and (5) deal with commencement. The business rates measure relating to material changes of circumstances will commence when the Bill is passed. The power for the Secretary of State or the Northern Ireland Department for the Economy to investigate the conduct of former directors of dissolved companies, set out in clauses 2(3)(b) and 3(3)(b), will also commence when the Bill is passed. That will allow for the investigation process to start immediately where serious breaches of expected standards are suspected. Other provisions in clauses 2 and 3, such as the powers to seek the disqualification of former directors of dissolved companies, will commence two months after the Bill has passed.

Clause 4(6) confirms the short title of the Bill.

Photo of Jeff Smith Jeff Smith Shadow Minister (Housing, Communities and Local Government) 12:30 pm, 8th July 2021

I thank the Minister. Obviously, this is a technical clause that we have no problem with. I just want to make this point again: the extent and the commencement are important, but the distribution of the £1.5 billion to businesses that desperately need help does not rest on the passing of the Bill and its clauses. The commencement of the help to businesses could start as soon as the guidance is ready.

Photo of Luke Hall Luke Hall Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

I thank the hon. Gentleman. That is why we are so keen that we work at pace with the LGA and others to make sure that the guidance is in the right place to distribute so that we can get the support out as quickly as possible.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 4 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Christina Rees Christina Rees Labour/Co-operative, Neath

Does the hon. Lady want to move new clause 1 formally?

Photo of Seema Malhotra Seema Malhotra Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

In the light of the Minister’s response, I will not press it today, but we would be interested in further discussions on the review that the Minister has outlined and we will return to this issue on Report.