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Viscount Astor: The Motion on Clause 64 is grouped with this amendment. As I said earlier, I did notify the Ministers earlier that it was to ask the Government what are their proposals with regard to transition periods. I understand that the Government will come forward with amendments at some stage.

There will be very little time between Royal Assent and the implementation of the directive on 24th October this year for businesses to ensure that their systems will

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be able to comply. Industry faces quite a few hurdles at the moment. Not only are there major issues relating to data protection, but there is the year 2000 and the millennium. For some, there are changes required for dealing with the forthcoming euro currency. For some of us who are involved in the financial services industry, there are major changes in the regulatory structure under the Financial Services Authority. All this amounts to a great deal of work.

In the White Paper, the Government state that they will use the full extent of the three years within which existing processing must be brought into full compliance. What have the Government considered? I hope the Government will stand by their assurance to take full advantage of the transition period which is allowed under the directive in Article 32.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I am grateful for that. As is well known now, the directive comes into force by 24th October, which I readily concede is much closer than one is prepared to anticipate. There is the three-year window which allows processing already under way on that date to be brought fully into compliance in respect of automated processing. Then there are six years beyond that to bring structured manual filing systems into conformity.

Dealing specifically with the noble Viscount's question, we are preparing transitional provisions which will take advantage of those discretions. They will be tabled as soon as possible. I cannot give the noble Viscount or the Committee a precise date, but I will say that we shall try, if at all possible, to have them ready by Report stage.

The reason I asked whether the noble Viscount was going to say anything on clause stand part in respect of Clause 64 was, first of all, to say that the Solicitor-General and I have had every assistance in this

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Committee in the Moses Room. That demonstrates that this procedure for a Bill of this sort is apt and productive.

I also ought to say that the Bill team has been absolutely first-rate. There were late amendments on Friday, for which I chide and criticise no one, but that meant the whole weekend was occupied. There were late amendments last night, which meant a great deal of work. To be able to turn to the Bill team and ask when they will have the transitional provisions of the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, ready, and have the willing and cheerful answer that, "We will do our best by Report", is a strong tribute to public servants, who are too often overlooked.

Viscount Astor: I am grateful for the Minister's remarks. I certainly echo his comments about all the officials in the department.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 156:

Page 58, line 3, at end insert--
("S.I. 1996/2827.The Open-Ended Investment Companies (Investment Companies with Variable Capital) Regulations 1996.In Schedule 8, paragraphs 3 and 26.")

The noble Lord said: I have already spoken to this amendment. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Remaining schedule and clause agreed to.

Title agreed to.

Bill reported with amendments.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Elton): This concludes the Committee's proceedings on the Bill.

        The Committee adjourned at twenty minutes past eight o'clock.

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