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Mr. Timms: I shall listen with great interest to what my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North, has to say on the new clause. I have some reservations about it, but I should say on behalf of the Government that, in the interests of ensuring that the Bill is passed smoothly, I am happy to accept the new clause. It would leave the Bill intact and logical. There is also an advantage in ensuring that the effect on new lending is assessed before making the Bill permanent.
Ms Keeble: Obviously, everyone wants the legislation passed and progress to be made in dealing with developing country debt. It is right that progress should be made in an orderly and proper way that serves the interests of developing countries, so that they do not find themselves damaged by a risk premium. Everything in the proposed legislation is carefully targeted and structured and will not produce a risk premium. I will not go into the reasons for that, but basically creditors have their own ways of judging when a country is a bad risk, as the hon. Member for South-West Hertfordshire knows.
However, at the end of a Parliament there may be a suspicion that legislation is hurried, and it is particularly important to give real assurances about that. That is why I say to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Yardley, that although we would prefer not to have to accept a sunset clause, in the interests of ensuring that we can make orderly progress, the new clause should be agreed. We should, therefore, accept the principle of a sunset clause. If we agree that that is a way forward, I am sure that secondary legislation can be made in the next Parliament. That will mean that there is not a huge problem with parliamentary timetabling; that can be done in an orderly way, so that we can retain the cross-party consensus that has been so important in making progress with the Bill.
In conclusion, I repeat the point made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton, about our great regret that my hon. Friend the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish could not be here to take the Bill through Committee himself, as I am sure he would have wanted. I hope that we will be able to proceed to Report and Third Reading, so that we can get his legislation moving. The Bill will be a world first, and I am sure that it will be greatly appreciated by other jurisdictions around the world and by developing countries.
Question put and agreed to.
New clause 2 accordingly read a Second time, and added to the Bill.
Bill, as amended, to be reported.
11.22 am
Committee rose.
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