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The hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. Benyon) asked why exempt goods should not be listed in the Bill. Such details will be contained in regulations to make the law more flexible should there be a need to review it in the future. Details of what is exempt should not be set in stone. Reference has been made to the mobile phone and the iPod, for example. Clearly, things move on and it would be far better if that were done by regulation. However, let me make it clear—this is another issue that has been raised—that it is intended that exempt goods will include tools, books, vehicles and other items of equipment that are necessary to the debtor for use personally by him in his employment, business or vocation and such clothing, bedding, furniture,
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household equipment and provisions as are necessary for satisfying his basic domestic needs and those of his family.

Mr. Heald: The Minister might also wish to tell us about the position of the pet dog and leaving a certain amount of cash in a household where the people do not have a bank account. What about the idea of including in the Bill the list of exemptions that he has just given us—the things that are known now—and having a provision that such other items as may become necessary in future may be added to the list by order?

Nick Ainger: I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will raise that point in Committee.

I will move on to part 5, to which some Members referred. The hon. Member for Braintree (Mr. Newmark) referred to rights and remedies in relation to information to be given to debtors. Under the document in the Library, after entering premises, the enforcement agent must provide the debtor with a notice. The form of the notice and what information it must give will be contained in regulations made under paragraph 28(2) of schedule 12. It will cover the statutory liability or judgment that has given rise to the debt, the legislative provision authorising the action, the amount for which the warrant was issued, the charges that have been and can be made in relation to it, and how payment can be made. It will state that the goods will be sold if the debt and costs are not paid, and will cover in outline any right of appeal or avenues of complaint that the debtor may have.

In relation to information for debtors, under paragraph 7(1) of schedule 12, the debtor will be entitled to a notice detailing the procedure and financial consequences to the debtor of failing to pay the debt. That will include the amount outstanding, the enforcement power that will be exercised to enforce the debt, and where and by when payment should be made if such action is to be avoided.

My hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mark Fisher) is not in his place, but both he and the hon. Member for South Staffordshire spoke eloquently on part 6 and there was a difference of opinion between them. My hon. Friend felt that the balance was not quite right yet, although he recognised that significant improvements had been made. The hon. Gentleman felt that the Government had recognised and listened to what was being said in the other place. He felt that the balance was about right. I want to make it clear that the nature and extent of due diligence is specified in the Bill, in clause 131(2)(b), which makes it clear that museums must comply with the guidance—it is therefore mandatory—that is published by the Secretary of State. The current guidance that combats elicit trade and that is endorsed by museums requires detailed due diligence to be exercised.

My hon. Friend believed that, compared with other countries, our proposals were lax, but, in fact, we will require two months’ notice of the intent to bring a work of art into the country. In Switzerland, it is only 30 days. In France, it is two days. In New York, there are no requirements for publication at all. I hope that, when he reads Hansard tomorrow, he can be assured that due diligence is, in effect, mandatory and that we
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take the matter extremely seriously. He also asked whether a work of art that had been exhibited in this country could be then be sold and whether the immunity would continue. I can give the House the assurance that the immunity covers only the transportation of the work of art, its exhibition and its return to its country of origin. If, as he suggested, an exhibit was shown at the Tate, for example, and then its owners decided to send it to Sotheby’s, as soon as that happened, the immunity would be lifted. I think that that issue was also raised by the hon. Member for North-West Norfolk.

This has generally been a helpful debate and hon. Members have raised a number of issues that I am sure that they will wish to expand on in Committee. In short, the Bill will widen access to justice, improve the administration of justice and protect the vulnerable. I commend it to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill read a Second time.


Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 83A (6) (Programme motions),

Question agreed to.


Queen’s recommendation having been signified

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 52 (1)(a) (Money resolutions and ways and means resolutions in connection with bills),

Question agreed to.


Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118 (6) (Delegated Legislation Committees),

Question agreed to.



Adjourned accordingly at twenty-three minutes past Eight o’clock.

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