Enterprise Bill

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Schedule 26

Repeals and revocations

Amendments made: No. 607,in page 327, leave out line 7 and insert—
'In section 30, subsection (3) and, in subsection (5), the words '', subsection (3)''.'.
No. 608, in page 327, leave out lines 35 and 36 and insert—
'Sections 88 to 93A.
In section 93B(1), the words ''or under the Competition Act 1980''.'.
No. 609, in page 327, line 37, at end insert—
'In section 129(4), the words ''or 46(2)''.'.
No. 610, in page 327, line 38, at end insert—
'In section 132(1), the words ''section 46,''.'.
No. 611, in page 327, line 43, leave out '7' and insert '9'.
No. 612, in page 328, line 9, at beginning of second column insert—
'In section 11, in subsection (1), paragraph (c) and the word ''or'' before it, and subsections (2), (9) and (9A).'.
No. 613, in page 328, line 9, at end insert—
'In section 16, subsection (1) and, in subsection (2), the words ''or of the Director''.
In section 17, in subsections (1), (3), (4) and (5), the words ''or 13(5)''.
Section 18.'.
No. 614, in page 328, line 12, leave out 'Section 20' and insert—
'Sections 20, 21 and 24.
In section 31, in subsection (1), the words ''or regulations'', in subsection (3), the words ''regulations under this Act or'', and subsection (4).'.
No. 615, in page 328, line 19, at end insert—
'Companies Consolidation (Consequential Provisions) Act 1985 (c. 9) In Schedule 2, the entry relating to section 92 of the Fair Trading Act 1973.'.
No. 616, in page 330, line 13, leave out 'and 14' and insert—
', 14 to 16 and 19'.
No. 397, in page 331, leave out line 47 and insert—
'Sections 55 and 56.'.
No. 363, in page 332, line 11, leave out ', ''President'' and ''secretary''' and insert 'and ''President'''.
No. 364, in page 332, line 19, leave out 'and (d)'.
No. 365, in page 332, line 22, leave out '7(1)' and insert '7(4)'.
No. 366, in page 332, line 22, at end insert—
'In paragraph 9, sub-paragraph (2) and in sub-paragraph (3), the words ''and the President''.'.
No. 367, in page 332, leave out line 24.

Column Number: 706

No. 617, page 332, line 49, leave out 'paragraph 4(8) to (10)' and insert—

    'paragraph 4(3), (4), (9), (10), (12) and (15)(a)'.—[Miss Johnson.]

9.45 am

Miss Johnson: I beg to move amendment No. 574, in page 333, line 24, at beginning of second column insert—

                                                                                         'Section 9.'.

The amendment ensures the repeal of section 9 of the Insolvency Act 2000. That repeal was missed in the first print of the Bill.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment made: No. 398, in page 333, line 30, after '9,' insert '10,'.—[Miss Melanie Johnson.]

Schedule 26, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 267


Mr. Waterson: I beg to move amendment No. 45, in page 181, line 9, at end add—

    '(2) Parts 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 of this Act shall not come into force before 1st March 2005'.

It is relatively rare, I suspect, to seek to amend the commencement provision. Normally by this stage in the proceedings, members of the Committee are already fantasising about their next activity. I will not detain them long.

The amendment is designed to make the point—unless the Under-Secretary is with us on it, all we can really do of course is make a point—that, given how much feeling about the Bill's competition provisions has been expressed, both in our debates and, through Conservative Members, by business, industry and practitioners, it is very early to be revisiting such aspects of the competition regime. There are two main reasons for that. The first is the way that the European regime is developing, which could be different from developments in Britain, or vice versa. Secondly, and perhaps even more importantly, it is so soon after the Competition Act 1998 came into force.

The idea behind the amendment is to give everyone a sensible breathing space in which to continue to try to get to grips with the previous legislation and the implications of this further layer, as well as with what is happening in Europe, so that businesses can spend a bit of time on making profits and producing goods and services. That would allow for a specific period following the coming into force of the Competition Act.

Mr. Tony McWalter (Hemel Hempstead): I merely want to point out to the hon. Gentleman that, as of yesterday, fantasising is not permitted on the Labour Benches.

Miss Johnson: I am steering well clear of that subject.

Column Number: 707

The significance of 1 March is that it will be the fifth anniversary of the coming into force of the Competition Act 1998. I do not believe that there are any grounds for delaying important reforms to the UK competition regime. I realise that the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Waterson) is making a point, and I accept that point. However, I have explained to the Committee the rationale for our reforms, many of which we have debated at considerable length. I therefore urge the Committee to resist the amendment if it is put to a vote.

Mr. Waterson: I do not want to introduce a churlish note on the last day of the Committee's proceedings, so I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 267 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 268 and 269 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

New Clause 7

Person supplying goods

    '(1) This section has effect for the purpose of references in this Part to a person supplying or seeking to supply goods under—

    (a) a hire-purchase agreement;

    (b) a credit-sale agreement;

    (c) a conditional sale agreement.

    (2) The references include references to a person who conducts any antecedent negotiations relating to the agreement.

    (3) The following expressions must be construed in accordance with section 189 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974—

    (a) hire-purchase agreement;

    (b) credit-sale agreement;

    (c) conditional sale agreement;

    (d) antecedent negotiations.'.—[Miss Melanie Johnson.]

    Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

    New Clause 8

    Annual report of Commission

    'After paragraph 12 of Schedule 7 to the 1998 Act (the Competition Commission) there is inserted—

    ''Annual reports

    12A (1) The Commission shall make to the Secretary of State a report for each financial year on its activities during the year

    (2) The annual report must be made before the end of August next following the financial year to which it relates.

    (3) The Secretary of State shall lay a copy of the annual report before Parliament and arrange for the report to be published.''.'.—[Miss Melanie Johnson.]

    Brought up, and read the First time.

    Question proposed, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Nigel Waterson (Eastbourne): We need not detain the Committee long. It is sensible that any public body produce an annual report so that we can get to grips with what it is doing. My hon. Friend the Member for South Cambridgeshire (Mr. Lansley) was eager to debate this, but I understand that he is indisposed and, sadly, will not be able to do so. The

Column Number: 708

burden of his song was to ask what the Competition Commission will be doing that warrants an annual report. However, we covered that ground in sometimes hilarious detail on a previous occasion, so I shall not pursue the matter.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

New clause 10

Application of insolvency law to foreign company

    '(1) The Secretary of State may by order provide for a provision of the Insolvency Act 1986 (c.45) to apply (with or without modification) in relation to a company incorporated outside Great Britain.

    (2) An order under this section—

    (a) may make provision generally or for a specified purpose only,

    (b) may make different provision for different purposes, and

    (c) may make transitional, consequential or incidental provision.

    (3) An order under this section—

    (a) must be made by statutory instrument, and

    (b) shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.'. —[Miss Melanie Johnson.]

    Brought up, and read the First time.

Miss Johnson: I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

The new clause provides a power for the Secretary of State to extend the application of the provisions of the Insolvency Act 1986 to companies incorporated outside Great Britain. Under current legislation, it is unclear whether a company incorporated outside Great Britain—apart from companies from certain Commonwealth countries, whose courts might request the assistance of the UK courts in insolvency matters—can make use of company voluntary arrangements or the administration procedure. Its only option, probably, is winding up as an unregistered company.

We believe that there is a strong case for allowing foreign companies to make use of the rescue provisions of the 1986 Act, particularly in today's business environment, in which many foreign companies operate in Great Britain and have assets and creditors here. The new clause will allow the Secretary of State, following consultation, to extend the rescue provisions and other corporate insolvency proceedings of the Insolvency Act to such companies.

Mr. Waterson: The provision sounds eminently sensible. I have just one query: to what extent is the provision based on or related to any international convention? Is a reciprocal arrangement either in place or envisaged? In the increasingly globalised business world, multinational companies face a range of insolvency regimes. I do not want to open that can of worms at this stage, save to say that one can imagine the possible complexities of the insolvency of a large corporation that straddles various countries or even

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continents—hence my interest in whether the measure is to be linked with reciprocal arrangements internationally.

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