HC Deb 20 April 1994 vol 241 c890 3.43 pm
The Paymaster General (Sir John Cope)

I beg to move amendment No. 27, in page 236, line 22, leave out '(1)'.

Madam Speaker

With this it will be convenient also to discuss Government amendment No. 26.

Sir John Cope

Of the two amendments, amendment No. 26 is the important one. It takes up a point that arose in Committee which is to do with reasonable excuse. The amendment does not go quite as far as amendment No. 58 sought to do in Committee, but it takes up the main point in that it allows a second or subsequent reasonable excuse to count for the purposes of clause 10 and the schedule. Amendment No. 27 is a consequential amendment.

Mr. Andrew Smith (Oxford, East)

We welcome the Government's acceptance, in the words of the Paymaster General—at least, almost total acceptance—of the arguments by myself and my hon. Friends in Committee. In Committee, my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Mrs. Campbell) ably moved the amendment, which the Government have partly accepted after a tied vote in Committee.

The Bill as it stands would have eliminated the opportunity for appellants to plead after one reasonable excuse had expired with a new, second reasonable excuse for the conduct on which they were appealing to commissioners. It seems fully in accordance with natural justice that appellants should have the opportunity to plead a further reasonable excuse in cases of illness and other examples, which were explored in Committee. It makes good sense for appellants and we therefore welcome the Government amendment—if only they took as much notice of all the arguments that we put in Committee.

Amendment agreed to.

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