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Lord Luke: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for giving way. She spoke of "consulting publicly". I thought that the consultation was to take place with members of the industry--in other words, the farmers. I did not know that there would be public consultation. Perhaps she would be kind enough to say what that means.

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, I meant that, in the normal sense of the word, it would not be secret consultation. If that is incorrect, I shall of course write to the noble Lord to correct it. It may well be that, for example, trade associations or the NFU are equally appropriate bodies for consultation. Perhaps I may take advice on the point. The answer may be that anyone can comment in a consultation but that the consultation itself will be addressed to the farmers who are affected. As I think I made clear in my earlier remarks, it is from the affected farmers that we particularly want to hear.

In our commitment to providing a fair scheme, we must consider the options with an open mind and be persuaded of the strength of the argument. It will perhaps be of help if I say something about the process that we intend to follow. We are proposing to use professional valuers and accountants to assess the assets and income of fur farmers to assist us in drawing up the compensation scheme. We shall then consult those affected by the Bill over the details of the scheme.

Several noble Lords raised the issue of timing. This is usually done over a two-month period. The Government will then consider the responses to the consultation exercise and draw up a statutory instrument to be laid before Parliament. It would be wrong to suggest that that would not take a number of months, but the Government understand the need to move as fast as possible on the matter. As I said, there

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is no bar to people who have already wound down their businesses, so long as they were in business on the operable date for claiming compensation. So there is some flexibility there.

I suspect that we shall return to specific details of the compensation scheme at a later stage in our consideration of the Bill.

The Earl of Shrewsbury: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for giving way. Will the Minister do her utmost to ensure that the compensation issues are fast-tracked? The experience of many people in the hand-gun world when hand-guns were banned was appalling. The inefficiencies on the part of the unit of the Home Office concerned with compensation were awful. Many people had to wait for months--in some cases years--to receive adequate compensation. I ask the Minister to advise her honourable and right honourable friends that it is most important to provide compensation quickly.

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, I understand the strength of feeling about the need for a speedy response. Obviously, one cannot so telescope a consultation exercise as to make it unfair. Equally, I am a great believer in learning from experience. If there are lessons to be learnt about how these matters can be dealt with more smoothly I undertake to do all that I can to ensure that that takes place.

Lord Luke: My Lords, I thank the Minister for giving away. Can we have this in two months' time, and before the Bill passes through both House?

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, I believe I made clear that this is an enabling Bill which contains a responsibility to put in place a compensation scheme. Once the Bill becomes law we can move on to the next stage. That cannot be done in anticipation of the Bill becoming law. On that basis, I hope the House will give the Bill a Second Reading this evening.

On Question, Bill read a second time, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

Lord Carter: My Lords, in rising to move that the House do now adjourn, I cannot help observing that proportionately nearly as many interventions were made during my noble friend's wind-up speech as were made during the wind-up speech of my noble friend Lord Whitty on the Countryside and Rights of Way Bill. I make that observation merely as an innocent observer of the passing scene in your Lordships' House. I beg to move that the House do now adjourn.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House adjourned at eight minutes before midnight.

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