Compensation Bill [Lords]

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Simon Hughes: I was aware that the Lords Committee took that view. This morning, I learned for the first time from my noble Friend Lord Wallace of Saltaire that there are more formerly active trade union Members in the House of Lords than in the House of Commons. I leave Labour colleagues to reflect on the ability of the Labour movement in the House of Commons to represent working women and men in its traditional way. Clearly, new Labour has taken over the Commons more quickly it has taken over the Lords.
I am not satisfied with the result. The Minister is right: I have always been particular in trying to ensure that we do not legislate when we do not need to and that we do not create work that we do not need to do. However, I still think that this is an appropriate matter for compulsory debate and vote. I will seek the Committee’s leave to withdraw the amendment, but I give notice that I intend to return to it. I hope that I can persuade colleagues to support me on Report.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause 14 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 15

Simon Hughes: I beg to move amendment No. 39, in clause 15, page 9, line 17, at end insert—
‘(1A) The preceding provisions of this Act, other than sections 1 and 2, shall cease to have effect on 1st January 2012 or upon the entry into force of the Legal Services Act 2007, whichever is the earlier.'.
This is the last flourish from the Liberal Democrat Benches. The amendment would add another subsection between subsections (1) and (2) in clause 15. It is consistent with what the Minister kindly attributed to me as an objective—to ensure that we do not end up with more law than we need, with people running about looking in “Halsbury’s Laws” or at statutes, cross-referring and cross-relating them.
I want the Bill to become subject to a sunset provision so that it disappears and is incorporated into the draft Legal Services Bill when that becomes an Act. Rather than having two pieces of legislation that regulate claims made through a claims firm and through lawyers, anyone who is interested can go to one piece of legislation. The same goes for government. That is a justified position because the draft Legal Services Bill is being considered by Parliament literally as we speak.
I hope that the Minister will be positive about that. Parliament should not pass legislation that will, or is presumed to, go on forever, when there are other pieces of legislation in which it could reasonably be dovetailed. All the provisions in part 2 will not only be in parallel with those governed by the Legal Services Bill, but are likely to be governed by the same regulator, as we are told by the Minister. That is important. It would be a nonsense if we were to end up with one regulator governing the things that are regulated by two different Acts of Parliament that are passed within 12 months of each other.
I hope the Minister will be sympathetic to the amendment. I am happy to say that I am not bothered about pressing it to a Division, but I will take drafting suggestions between now and our deliberations on Report on anything that might improve it if it is inadequate. However, the purpose is to ensure that part 2 ends up in the right place, with similar legislation. That would leave earlier aspects of the Bill which were on a different issue—we spoke about them at length—to stand in a logical place. I hope that, in due course, we might be able to put them somewhere else, too. If I have an excellent idea as to where they could go tidily, I might come up with that on Report.
Bridget Prentice: I am sympathetic to what the hon. Gentleman is trying to achieve. I agree that it is better for the regulator to be a member of the family regulating legal and other services. We are considering carefully how best to pave the way to that type of integration.
The draft Legal Services Bill may or may not be enacted in 2007. It is because of the uncertainty about the changing shape of the market and the number of companies that will need to be regulated that we want to keep our options open to retain maximum flexibility in targeting and giving proportionate regulation. It is also not necessary to put a time limit on the operation of the legislation. I am not in favour of adding further provisions to the Bill unless they are absolutely necessary.
Even if the legal services provision is delayed, I do not want to leave consumers with a regulatory mechanism that has a sunset provision hanging over it. I would be concerned about them being left with a terminating regime and no protection if the Parliament of the day was busy doing something else. On that basis, I ask the hon. Gentleman to reflect on the amendment.
Simon Hughes: I will happily reflect on it. May I just add that the amendment was drafted after taking technical advice from the Clerks on what might be acceptable in technical terms?
It being Seven o’clock, The Chairman proceeded, pursuant to Standing Order 83D and the Order of the Committee [20 June], to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.
Question negatived.
The Chairman then proceeded to put forthwith the Questions necessary to dispose of the business to be concluded at that time.
Clauses 15 and 16 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 17

Short title
Amendment made: No. 12, in clause 17, page 9, line 27, leave out subsection (2).—[Bridget Prentice.]
Clause 17, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Bridget Prentice: On a point of order, Mr. Atkinson. May I thank you and Mr. Caton on behalf of all hon. Members for the efficient and positive way in which you conducted our affairs? We had good debates on protecting consumers and, in the first part of the Bill, volunteers.
I am grateful to all hon. Members, including the hon. Member for North-East Hertfordshire, who spoke on behalf of the official Opposition, and the hon. Member for North Southwark and Bermondsey, who spoke on behalf of the Liberal Democrats.
I am particularly grateful to my hon. Friends, who have made excellent contributions throughout. As always, I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Worcester (Mr. Foster), who has kept us all in appropriate order in terms of what we have had to say. However, we are particularly grateful to you, Mr. Atkinson, and I hope that you will express our gratitude to Mr. Caton.
Mr. Heald: Further to that point of order, Mr. Atkinson. May I join in thanking you and Mr. Caton for acting as our Chairmen? I also thank the Minister for the courteous way in which she has dealt with matters. We never decided whether she had blossomed, but her approach has certainly been constructive.
I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Upminster (Angela Watkinson), who has not only done the shadowy job of acting as the usual channels with her usual aplomb, but spoken from the Front Bench when I was absent for a period, and I congratulate her on that. I also congratulate all the other members of the Committee who have taken an active part in our proceedings.
Finally, I thank the Clerks, who have been extremely helpful, the attendants, the police and, of course, those who make sure that our comments are recorded.
Simon Hughes: Further to that point of order, Mr. Atkinson. My hon. Friend the Member for Montgomeryshire and I thank you and your colleague for your chairmanship. My hon. Friend could not be with us this afternoon, but he associates himself with my thanks, and I am grateful to him for covering for me one morning when I could not be here for understandable reasons.
Like other colleagues, I am grateful to the Minister for her courteous response, and I hope that we shall learn the lessons of this Committee and use them to good effect at the next stage, which may not be long delayed.
Bill, as amended, to be reported.
Committee rose at four minutes past Seven o'clock.
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