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Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, I defer to the noble Lord if he thinks the figure is 79. I shall not press the point. But, more substantially, what is actually going on? What is not in this Bill covered by regulation, which is a power unspecified in the future, is being covered by redrafting as we go on. It looks as if this Bill is being redrafted on the hoof as it goes through. Every time it is circulated to a department, new comments appear to emerge and the Bill is amended.
Why was not all of this done before this Bill was brought to your Lordships' House? Why are we having Bills that are so sloppily drafted that whatever is not covered by regulation has to be amended in the course of the passage of the Bill? I believe that is unbelievably sloppy; I think it is improper; and I think it takes up the time of your Lordships which should be more properly spent on the Bill. In the Government's haste to get the Bill on the Floor of the House they have brought to us something which is so poorly drafted that we shall have to spend half of the hours of this evening trying to take
Lord Monkswell: My Lords, when I first looked through the amendments that we have for discussion today, I must admit that I had to pause at this amendment and the subsequent amendments that seem to be allied to it. I say "seem to be allied" because it was not too difficult to determine that some amendments were allied to this one but until we had the Marshalled List which is only printed on the day of the deliberations ordinary Members of the House had no mechanism to determine which amendments were related to each other.
I am not sure whether it is the way in which the Bill was drafted in the first place, or whether it is the way the Government are bringing forward amendments, but the net result is that we are running into the dangerous procedural situation where the House is being asked to reach decisions on rather complicated matters whichdare I say it?are almost inevitably not completely explained by Ministers at the point of deliberation.
We have apparently within our procedures and rules no mechanism currently of forewarning Members of the implications of the decisions that they are expected to take. It would seem to me there are two ways in which we can deal with this. One is for us to say to the Government, "Do not bring Bills to the House in this state. Make sure they are properly drafted to enable the House to consider those Bills in a sensible way". One can hope the Bills would be well thought out before they were presented to the House.
The second option is to ask the Procedure Committee to have another look at our procedures and try to work out some scheme whereby when there is significant amendment to Bills as in this situation where we are faced with a whole raft of amendmentsit will come forward with recommendations which will enable all Members of your Lordships' House to arrive at a situation where the decisions they have to take can be made in the light of reasonable information. I leave that matter in the Government's hands to think about. Our own Front Bench may have to think about it and discussions would have to go forward through the usual channels. That is, as it were, the procedural point. I thank the Minister for trying to explain, as best he could, the implications of these amendments. In practice, I suspect the Government will push these amendments and effectively write them on the face of the Bill. I do not think the Opposition will be in a position to be able to say that that is not necessarily a good thing to do.
We have to reserve our position with regard to the implications of the amendments for Third Reading. One aspect of the amendments that the Minister mentioned related to a concern that I raised in Committee. I shall obviously have to consider the implications in terms of what the amended Bill will contain.
Finally, the Minister made great play of the powers to suspend or prohibit an individual trustee or a trustee who was a director of a company which was itself a trustee. He referred to the ability to identify an individual who had transgressed and to ensure that that
Lord Boyd-Carpenter: My Lords, I hope that my noble friend the Minister will have an adequate answer to the, on the face of it, not unreasonable criticism offered by the noble Baroness on the Front Bench opposite. As she reminded us, we are now at the Report stage of a Bill which has already taken a good deal of time in this House. It is a little unfortunate that it is necessary at this late stage to introduce such an enormous number of amendments. I express no opinion on their merits: I am sure that on the whole they are sensible improvements to the Bill. But procedurally it is unfortunate that it should be necessary to make these amendments at this comparatively late stage of the progress of a major Bill which has been before Parliament for a considerable time.
I am not without sympathy for the Minister. At one time I had responsibility for introducing several measures on this subject. I can tell your Lordships that whatever else those measures may have been they were a great deal shorter than this Bill and it was not necessary to amend them to anything like the same extent.
Although I have an open mind on the merits of the matter, I believe that the House is entitled to some explanation from the Government as to why it was necessary to introduce this enormous number of amendments at this very late stage.
Lord Lucas: My Lords, to deal with the questions raised in reverse order, my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter asked why there were so many amendments. This Bill has not been in the public domain for very long. It started in this House. We have received a very large number of submissions and suggestions since the Bill was published. As I said in my opening remarks, we retain an open mind and we have looked again at many provisions of the Bill in the light of what has been said. Much of it is technical rather than controversial. Therefore, it has not been a matter of principle with us to hold to the original decisions. Rather, we have looked again at what we originally decided to see whether what was suggested was a better way of doing things.
As regards the last question of the noble Lord, Lord Monkswell, yes, if a Minister is acting in a personal capacity as a trustee he will be subject to the same arrangements as any other trustee. If that does not answer the noble Lord's question in full perhaps he will write to me, as we shall consider his earlier remarks and take into account the many interesting things that he said. I do not believe that it would be appropriate for me to reply to them now.
So far as concerns the remarks of the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis, if we give way on amendments we are said to be sloppy and if we do not we are said to be intransigent. We are being extremely accommodating on many parts of this Bill. As I said in the course of my remarks, this group of amendments results from something that the noble Baroness herself said in Committee. We believe that it is important to get this Bill in as good a state as possible. One of the principle functions of this House is as a revising chamber. We believe that the progress of this Bill is a very good example of how well it works as it is presently constituted.
Page 2, leave out lines 26 to 33 and insert:
("(b) that the Authority are satisfied that, while being a trustee of the scheme, this section has applied to the person by virtue of any other provision of this Part,
(c) that the person is a company and any director of the company is prohibited under this section from being a trustee of the scheme,
(d) that the person is a Scottish partnership and any of the partners is prohibited under this section from being a trustee of the scheme, or
(e) that the person is a director of a company which, by reason of circumstances falling with paragraph (a) or (b), is prohibited under this section from being a trustee of the scheme and the Authority are satisfied that the acts or defaults giving rise to those circumstances were committed with the consent or connivance of, or attributable to any neglect on the part of, the director;
or any other prescribed circumstances.
(2A) The making of an order under subsection (1) against a person who is a trustee of the scheme in question has the effect of removing him.
(2B) The Authority may, on the application of any person against whom an order under subsection (1) is in force, revoke the order, but a revocation made at any time cannot affect anything done before that time.
(3) The Authority may by order suspend a trustee of a trust scheme
(a) pending consideration being given to the making of an order against him under subsection (1),
(b) where proceedings have been instituted against him for an offence involving dishonesty or deception and have not been concluded,
(c) where a petition has been presented to the court for an order adjudging him bankrupt, or for the sequestration of his estate, and proceedings on the petition have not been concluded,
(d) where the trustee is a company, if a petition for the winding up of the company has been presented to the court and proceedings on the petition have not been concluded, or
(e) where an application has been made to the court for a disqualification order against him under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 and proceedings on the application have not been concluded.
(3A) An order under subsection (3)
(a) if made by virtue of paragraph (a), has effect for an initial period not exceeding twelve months, and
(b) in any other case, has effect until the proceedings in question are concluded;
but the Authority may by order extend the initial period referred to in paragraph (a) for a further period of twelve months, and any order suspending a person under subsection (3) ceases to have effect if an order is made against that person under subsection (1).
(3B) An order under subsection (3) has the effect of prohibiting the person suspended, during the period of his suspension, from exercising any functions as trustee of any trust scheme to which the order applies; and the order may apply to a particular trust scheme, a particular class of trust schemes or trust schemes in general.
(3C) An order under subsection (3) may be made on one of the grounds in paragraphs (b) to (e) whether or not the proceedings were instituted, petition presented or application made (as the case may be) before or after the coming into force of that subsection.
(4) The Authority may, on the application of any person suspended under subsection (3), revoke the order, either generally or in relation to a particular scheme or a particular class of schemes; but a revocation made at any time cannot affect anything done before that time.").