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Baroness Hayman: In responding to the issue raised by the noble Earl, Lord Shrewsbury, on payments on account, we shall certainly consider that as one of the elements of the scheme. However, he will understand that I cannot give him an absolute commitment any more than I can on any other element.

It would be possible to start consultation from now onwards as, indeed, it is possible to start consultation after Second Reading. If this Session is not going to be that long, there will be something of a distinction without a difference here in terms of the timing. Certainly, I give the Committee the assurance that I shall consult fellow Ministers about the appropriate date on which consultations and investigations as to income levels should properly start, with a commitment that there will not be undue delay in doing that. I hope the Committee will accept that assurance.

Earl Ferrers: I am grateful to the noble Baroness for that undertaking which will be of great help and succour.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Hayman moved Amendments Nos. 21 to 23:

(a) the description or descriptions of income losses and the description or descriptions of non-income losses in respect of which payments are to be made, and
(b) the description or descriptions of businesses in respect of which payments are to be made,
but need not provide for the making of payments in respect of all income losses or all non-income losses or (as the case may be) in respect of all businesses.
( ) A scheme shall also, in particular--
( ) specify the basis or bases").

    Page 3, line 24, after ("basis") insert ("or bases").

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    Page 3, line 26, leave out ("any") and insert ("the").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 23A to 23D not moved.]

Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 24:

    Page 3, line 44, leave out from ("shall") to ("House") and insert ("not be made unless a draft of it has been laid before, and approved by resolution of, each").

The noble Earl said: This is a simple amendment suggesting that the draft of the scheme should have affirmative as opposed to negative approval. I hope the Government will agree to that.

Perhaps I may just recap because I said something nonsensical. I said that the measure should have affirmative as opposed to negative approval. Of course, you cannot have negative approval. I meant that it should be subject to the affirmative as opposed to the negative resolution procedure.

Baroness Hayman: I am grateful to the noble Earl for that clarification. I got his drift anyway. A matter of judgment arises. We have proposed the negative resolution procedure and as I understand it, that was not questioned by the Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee. It considered that a negative resolution procedure was not inappropriate.

The reasoning behind that is that the detail of the compensation scheme will be subject to a consultation exercise with the industry but others may become involved in that. So it is not a matter on which there will be no opportunity whatever for debate. Obviously the negative resolution procedure gives some advantage in terms of speediness of parliamentary process. It is a judgment call, but the judgment was made. We have very clear mechanisms for consultation and the procedure proposed was not considered to be inappropriate by the Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee in order to deal speedily with those matters.

Earl Ferrers: I am grateful to the noble Baroness for that. It did not come as a surprise. The funny thing is that when one is in government, the opposition are always suggesting that the negative procedure changed to affirmative resolution, and the government always object because they think it is a waste of time. However there are methods of discussing this under a negative resolution. I had hoped that we should have the affirmative procedure, but the noble Baroness says no and I shall submit entirely to what she has said.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Hayman moved Amendment No. 25:

    Page 3, line 45, at end insert--

("( ) In this section--
"income losses" means losses of income, and
"non-income losses" means losses other than income losses.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 5, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 6 agreed to.

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Clause 7 [Short title, commencement and extent]:

Lord Kimball moved Amendment No. 26:

    Page 4, line 9, leave out from ("force") to end of line and insert ("on the day on which the Act is passed").

The noble Lord said: We have made great progress in the last three-quarters of an hour and I am quite certain that fur farmers as a whole have heard many things from the noble Baroness that set their minds at rest. However, on this final point, perhaps I may press her on one more issue. In Committee in another place the Minister said at col. 81 that he took the point that some fur farmers may want to get out of the business as quickly as possible. I understand that point.

He then went on to say that the compensation scheme should be introduced as quickly as possible in order to assist those people who wanted to get out of the industry. He went on to say further that it might take a couple of months to get the draft consultation up and running, and then there would have to be a further two month consultation period followed by another month for internal consultation.

Given the extensive delays brought about by the passing of this legislation, and the fact that the fur farmers have been unable to make any progress with altering their equipment since March 1999, there seems no reason why the Government should not make a compensation payment immediately after Royal Assent. The passing of my amendment would allow the ministry to commence consultation immediately after Royal Assent. If we play it the other way, it will take two months and then another month instead of being able to deal with the issue straight after Royal Assent. I beg to move.

Baroness Hayman: I am grateful for the spirit in which the noble Lord, Lord Kimball, moved this amendment. I have to say to him that it is conventional--and my heart sinks when I start an argument along those lines-- in general, no Act should be brought into operation sooner than two months after Royal Assent. It is particularly desirable that the minimum period be observed in respect of provisions that will directly affect the public. However, we can respect that propriety without unnecessarily delaying the course of the exercise, which is probably the intention behind the noble Lord's amendment.

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If the Bill were to receive Royal Assent, as I hope it soon will, I am well aware that there are some farmers who might wish to cease their businesses very shortly after that date. I can assure the Committee that the "two month" provision will have no effect on the eligibility of fur farmers for compensation if they were to close down during that two-month period.

Clause 5(1) makes clear that the compensation scheme will apply to those ceasing their businesses after enactment--that means after Royal Assent rather than after the Bill coming into force. I recognise also that farmers will then want to receive their compensation as soon as possible. I can assure Members of the Committee that the Government will move on this matter as fast as possible. Discussion took place earlier in the deliberations of the Committee as to whether we could do that a little more speedily. Moreover, we shall certainly not wait for the conventional two months before commencing the task of drawing up the compensation scheme.

We are proposing to use professional valuers and accountants to assess the assets and income of the fur farmers to assist us in drawing up the scheme. We will then consult those affected by the Bill on its detail. That is usually done, as the noble Lord said, over a two-month period. There is a balance to be struck here between adequate consultation and speedy implementation. We have to do both: we have to consider the responses to the consultation exercise and then draw up a statutory instrument to be laid before Parliament. It would be wrong to suggest that that will not take time. But I hope that the two months between Royal Assent and the bringing into force of the Bill will not in any way add to the amount of time necessary to put the scheme in place and compensation being paid. On that basis, I hope the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Kimball: In view of the way the noble Baroness has been able to set the fur farmers' minds at rest, I have much pleasure in saying, I beg leave to withdraw the mendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 7 agreed to.

Title agreed to.

Bill reported with amendments.

        The Committee adjourned at six o'clock.

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