HC Deb 22 November 2000 vol 357 cc334-67

Lords amendment: No. 1, in page 3, line 16, after second ("of") insert ("income and non-income").

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The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Elliot Morley)

I beg to move, That this House agrees with the Lords in the said amendment.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this it will be convenient to take Lords amendment No. 2, amendments (a) and (b) thereto, Lords amendments Nos. 3 and 4, Lords amendment No. 5 and amendments (a) and (b) thereto.

Mr. Morley

These amendments relate to the compensation scheme for fur farmers who will be put out of business by the ban on keeping animals coley or primarily for slaughter for the value of their fur. In the House and in another place, concerns were raised about the form of the proposed compensation scheme. As I explained at the time, this is an enabling Bill, and it is therefore not appropriate for the full and exact details of the compensation scheme to be included.

The intention is that Ministers will decide on the details of the compensation scheme after Royal Assent, when we have arranged for independent assessors to visit the fur farms to provide information on which a decision about the form of the scheme can be based. I made it clear, however, that the Government accept that fair compensation should be made available to fur farmers.

When the Bill received its Third Reading in the House, clause 5 did not specify whether compensation would include loss of income. That has been a cause for concern both here and in another place. Furthermore, the report of the House of Lords Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation recommended that the Bill should specify whether compensation includes loss of income, on the basis that that had important European convention on human rights implications and should not be left to ministerial discretion.

In the light of both those concerns and the Select Committee's report, the Government decided to table amendments in another place, committing Ministers to include loss of income in the compensation scheme. Thus clause 5(1) will now require the compensation scheme to cover both income and non-income losses incurred as a result of ceasing fur farming because of the enactment or the coming into force of the prohibition in clause 1.

Clause 5(2) will require the scheme to specify the descriptions of income and non-income losses in respect of which payments are to be made and the description of business to be compensated, although the scheme need not provide for all losses to be compensated. Clause 5(3) will provide that the scheme shall specify the basis of the valuation for determining losses; the amounts of the payments to be made, or the basis on which such amounts are to be calculated; and the procedure to be followed in respect of claims under the scheme.

Concerns were raised in the House that the use of the word "may" in clause 5(2) could allow the Government to avoid including the matters set out in that subsection in the compensation scheme. I made it clear at the time that that was never our intention. We have therefore removed any doubt as to the Government's commitment by changing the word "may" to "shall" in clause 5(2).

The full details of the scheme will be subject to a consultation exercise with the industry after Royal Assent and before the order introducing the compensation scheme is made. In another place, my noble Friend, the Minister of State, Baroness Hayman agreed that we would consider setting in motion before Royal Assent the steps needed to draw up a scheme. I should like to thank her for the way in which she dealt with the Bill and guided it through the other place. We have now set the wheels in motion and have written to all the fur farmers and the National Farmers Union, as their representative, seeking their agreement to independent consultants looking at their books. We are trying to speed the process as much as we can before Royal Assent. We await the NFU's response on behalf of fur farmers.

I appreciate that this is a narrow debate, limited to the Lords amendments, but it would be remiss of me not to put on record my thanks to the many hon. Members and Members of the House of Lords who have supported the Bill. It has received enormous support from the public, who have backed it in writing. We should all record our special thanks to my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Garston (Maria Eagle), who promoted the original private Member's Bill that forms the basis of the Government Bill.

Mr. Malcolm Moss (North-East Cambridgeshire)

The debate is now drawing to a close on this rather contentious legislation. If one reads the reports of all the Bill's proceedings in both Houses, one does not find much support for it from the vast majority of Members who contributed to the debates. At all stages, compensation was the key issue. Given the weary resignation of fur farmers to the inevitability of the Bill reaching the statute book because of the Government's huge majority, the defence shifted from opposing the Bill in principle to achieving the best possible compensation deal for fur farmers.

From what the Minister said, it seems that the Government are no further down the road of setting the parameters for the compensation calculation. I wonder why the Government have not used the time over the summer recess to work more closely with fur farmers, at least to set some basic parameters and headings on the compensation issue.

If we were to ask the fur farmers whether, under these Lords amendments, they were any wiser about what they could realistically expect as compensation, their answer would be an unequivocal no. They are no further forward with knowing what their businesses will be worth and how best to plan for their futures.

Is not it true that the amendments were tabled only because the Government took fright at the recommendation of the Lords Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation that the question whether compensation should be included for loss of income, which has important human rights applications, should not be left to ministerial discretion. Thus income and non-income losses are now to be in the Bill, and the word "may" in line 20 is to be changed to "shall." I suppose that we should feel grateful to the Government for those hard-won concessions, but the definition of income losses and the amount of such losses are still unknown quantities.

As was said in the other place, the Government are in uncharted waters, especially in respect of a farming enterprise such as fur farming. The only evidence from valuations in the European Union comes from Austria, where a fur farmer in one of its regions was closed down and paid the equivalent of £390 for each breeding female.

The Government have not moved an inch from their estimate, which was published in the Bill's explanatory memorandum, of some £400,000 earmarked for asset losses and up to four times that figure—£1.6 million—if income losses are included. How does that square with the valuation of one of the fur farming businesses at £5 million worth of forced closure losses? On the basis of the Austrian valuation, the total compensation could be well over double that figure. Have the Government amended their figures on the possible outcome of total compensation? Has the Minister made any application to his departmental budget for additional resources to meet the likely increased costs, or will he take the money from the budget headings that are currently earmarked for our hard-pressed farmers and fishermen?

In the other place, Baroness Hayman confirmed that ancillary costs associated with the closing down of fur farming business, such as valuation fees, redundancy payments, interest payments for delayed compensation, costs of clearing land and the taking down of buildings and any legal fees, will all be considered by the Government during their consultations. We and the fur farmers need more than that. We would not accept "will be considered"—we need to hear the words "will be included." It would be helpful if the Minister could confirm, in any further remarks that he makes, that such income losses will be included in any assessment.

The Minister alluded to the fact that consultation is due to start in the near future, before Royal Assent, and we welcome that. Have the Government set a target date for the conclusion of the discussions?

The Government have moved in the direction that we asked them to take at all stages of the Bill in this House and in the other place. We welcome the fact that income losses have been included, but we are less than happy that, even at this late stage, a definition of those losses has not been forthcoming. The fur farmers who will be closed down in two years' time are no wiser about what they will receive in compensation.

Mr. Douglas Hogg (Sleaford and North Hykeham)

I begin from the premise that the Bill is offensive and illiberal and should not be enacted, but it has passed through the House and the other place. Consequently, we

are dealing with what we have got. It would be churlish not to acknowledge that the Bill is somewhat better than it was when it left this place, because it now has a compensation clause.

Sub-amendment (b) to Lords amendment No. 2 is the most important of the sub-amendments in my name. We need to be clear what the compensation scheme is. The compensation scheme as provided for in the Lords amendments does not provide for full compensation for all losses suffered by all businesses caught by the prohibition, whereas my amendments, if they were enacted by the House, would.

If one examines the Lords amendments, one finds that the Government have considerable discretion as to what to include or not to include in the scheme. There is a proviso to clause 5, as amended, which is couched in the following language:

A scheme … 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. The Bill now explicitly provides that the compensation need not cover all income losses and all non-income losses, and need not apply to all businesses covered by the prohibition. Therefore, in theory at least, no losses need to be covered and no businesses need to be compensated. That is the effect of the Lords amendment.

I am doing the Minister the justice of believing that that is not what he would wish. I assume that he wants to cover most income losses, most non-income losses and all businesses, but the House has a right to insist on clear language and to insist further on a proper compensation scheme.

I acknowledge that, in one sense, what I am urging on the House is different from what I have urged on the House before. I am conscious that compensation schemes have not been provided for other activities that, from time to time, have been prohibited by the House. Indeed, I acknowledge—otherwise, it will be said against me—that I personally am responsible for one such measure: the prohibition on head deboning at the time of the BSE crisis. That did not carry with it a compensation measure, but there are two differences. First, since the deboning measure was put in place, we have enacted the European convention on human rights and incorporated it into domestic law. One consequence is that, in all probability, compensation is a legal requirement in such cases—or, put differently, a prohibition without compensation would probably be deemed to be incompatible with convention rights. That being so, since I enacted a measure there is a change of circumstance which I recognise and which has consequences in law. Secondly, the prohibitions that have been enacted in the past have been done on a different basis from that on which we are operating today. For example, the prohibition on head deboning was done on the basis of a threat to human health. That was the justification for that Bill; actually, I think it was an order.

This Bill is justified not in terms of any pragmatic or scientific assessment of animal welfare, but on the basis of some assessment of public morality. It is wrong for the House to have done that because, within a democracy, minorities have rights. If one can only do that which the majority approve of, one is not living in a truly free society. We as Members of Parliament must be very cautious about enacting proposals simply on the basis that we can get a majority to support them. That is a road to tyranny.

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If we are to take such action on such a narrow basis—which I believe to be wrong—it is essential that we put our money where our vote is. If we are to make a prohibition on a basis that I believe to be fundamentally flawed, we must compensate properly and fully. That means—this is what my amendments are intended to achieve—that all businesses caught by the prohibition should receive compensation for all their income losses, and for all their non-income losses.

Non-income losses can be substantial. Unquestionably—my hon. Friend the Member for North-East Cambridgeshire (Mr. Moss) mentioned this—the capital value of the premises that will be outlawed, together with that of the stock, will be very great. That has been the case in Austria, where a high capital value has been placed on each fur farm—although, naturally, the facts have been under-explained.

We are depriving people of an important asset which they had every right to expect to see them into old age, providing pension funds and so forth, simply because of our assessment of public morality. I consider that shameful.

Mr. Roger Gale (North Thanet)

My right hon. and learned Friend is a lawyer, which I am not. He may be able to assist me, and prevent me from making a lengthy speech later.

I do not understand the difference between proactive and reactive prohibition. As my right hon. and learned Friend knows, I am a passionate supporter of the pet travel scheme. We introduced the scheme, and consequently deprived a significant number of quarantine kennel owners—who had set up businesses to serve an Act of Parliament—of their living. They received no compensation. I do not understand how it is possible to compensate generously one section of the business public whom we have deprived of their living, and not compensate another section at all.

Mr. Hogg

I entirely agree. This is a serious question, which is why I drew attention to the prohibition on head deboning. I recognise that I was the Minister responsible for that prohibition, and that the scheme I introduced did not provide for compensation.

A variety of approaches have been adopted over many years. For example, some of the firearms legislation did not, in the first instance, provide for proper compensation. I am thinking of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988. The legislation subsequently did make such provision, but only, I believe, in respect of the capital value of the weapons concerned; it did not provide for compensation for loss of income.

There is a serious problem relating to compensation. Governments frequently intervene to prohibit or regulate activities, and historically, as a general rule—there are exceptions—we have not provided compensation. An important change has taken place, namely the incorporation into domestic law of the European convention on human rights. It has also been recognised that, given the rights of property enshrined by one of the articles—I think it is article 14, although I may be wrong—it is necessary to provide compensation where such rights will be infringed.

As the House and, probably, the country will realise, there is a difference between intervening to prohibit an activity on grounds of public health or public policy—rather broadly defined—and simply expressing our own preferences in regard to what is right or wrong. If we are to indulge ourselves in the latter respect, which I strongly believe we should not—I hope I have made that plain; I disagree with my hon. Friend the Member for North Thanet (Mr. Gale)—we should provide a much more generous compensation scheme than we would provide if we acted on the basis of what is necessary for animal welfare.

Maria Eagle (Liverpool, Garston)

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman accept that capital assets will still be owned by the fur farmers, and that there is an alternative use for those assets? A fur farmer in Scotland found that his capital assets were perfect for the purpose of setting up a farm on which to grow strawberries.

Mr. Hogg

Clearly, a fur farmer possesses land, and, depending on the quantity and quality of that land, it may have an alternative use. Indeed, it is likely to have an alternative use. However, it is probable that the value of that land and those assets will be much diminished by the prohibition. Regardless, if that land is to be put to an alternative use, there will have to be a very substantial capital investment to transform the physical facilities on the land. Therefore, on any view—we can argue about the extent of the diminution—there will be a very substantial—[Interruption.]

The hon. Lady is indicating ambivalence. It is not a matter of "if and but"; it would be a serious capital loss. Although only 12 or 13 farmers will be affected—

Maria Eagle

There are 11.

Mr. Hogg

I am grateful.

Why should the House impose on 11 farmers a real loss, when we have it within our ability to compensate them entirely for that loss? I think that that is what we should be doing.

Mr. Morley

I simply want to deal with the point made by the hon. Member for North Thanet (Mr. Gale) on the difference between fur farmers and quarantine kennels. Although there are various differences between the two cases, the principal one is that the quarantine regulation changes have not resulted in the closure of quarantine kennels. There is still business for quarantine kennels. Additionally, the quarantine regulation changes do not apply to some countries, where there is endemic street rabies. Consequently, there is still a requirement for United Kingdom quarantine facilities. The fur farming proposals would have a different effect.

Mr. Hogg

The Parliamentary Secretary's remarks are correct, but they are correct only in part. Although it is perfectly true that there is a requirement for kennels, it is also true that, over time, their volume of business will decrease very substantially. Therefore, if one were to measure year on year, before and after the change in the passport laws, one will find a diminution in business because of the change in the quarantine routine. So, although there is a continuing business, there is a loss.

Mr. John Bercow (Buckingham)

Is it not particularly distressing that the order that would be forthcoming consequent upon agreement to Lords amendment No. 2 would not be subject to amendment? Precisely because of the potentially unsatisfactory contents of the scheme, it is essential either that an order be capable of amendment, or, preferably, that the much more generous, all-embracing and specific proposals that my right hon. and learned Friend is making in his amendments be accepted.

Mr. Hogg

My hon. Friend is basically right on both points. However, he is making a much more general point, which I have urged on the House very many times, on statutory instruments. Increasingly, over many years—when Conservative Members were in government, too—the House—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. We have strayed into quarantine and strawberries, and now into statutory instruments. Although I am prepared to let the right hon. and learned Gentleman give some background to his amendments, I think that he should now come back to the point.

Mr. Hogg

My hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow) has made an important point. If the scheme is introduced by way of a statutory instrument, it could not be amended. He believes, therefore, that my amendment should be passed. I was seeking to agree with him and to say that there is an underlying problem with using statutory instruments, which cannot be amended.

There is a way round the problem, and I commend it to the Parliamentary Secretary. It is possible to lay draft statutory instruments. If that were done in this case, the House would be able to debate them—in Government time, and on the Floor of the House—so that hon. Members could express a view on the scheme and on the compensation figures. Nevertheless, although that would be one way of meeting some of the concerns expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham, the situation is profoundly unsatisfactory.

I have always regarded this as a profoundly illiberal and offensive Bill, and I have often spoken against the proposals that it contains, including when they were in a private Member's Bill. Basically, I do not think that the Bill is compatible with the views that I have formed on minority rights in a free society. However, given that we have a Bill of this type, I believe that the House should be as generous as possible on compensation. I also think that the House has to acknowledge that we are dealing with the livelihoods of 11 or so people and with very substantial capital assets.

It is not right for the House to be presented with a compensation scheme that does not fully address all the losses. I am prepared to accept that there may be some difficulty with expressing the formulae in the Bill, but that the Bill should address all the losses is something on which the House should express a view. I have a very clear view that it should address all the income and non-income losses and should extend to all the businesses covered, and that the proviso to the scheme does none of those things.

Mr. Andrew Hunter (Basingstoke)

I shall be very brief. I give a cautious and qualified welcome to the Government's acceptance of the Lords amendments. It signifies a potential step in the right direction that could prove to be quite significant. As my hon. Friend the Member for North-East Cambridgeshire (Mr. Moss) said, it is a matter of grave regret that, at this stage, the parameters of the compensation scheme are still unknown and there remains an enormous discrepancy between the Government's apparent thinking and the real loss of income that fur farmers will incur.

I warmly support the amendment moved by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg). He demonstrates clearly that the Lords amendments do not cover all income and non-income losses. I regard this as an unacceptable state of affairs and I endorse what my right hon. and learned Friend said: that the House should insist on a proper compensation scheme for fur farmers.

Even with the amendments, this remains a miserable, vindictive, wholly unjustified and unjustifiable Bill. It is draconian and ill-considered. In essence, it is state persecution of a minority to satisfy a perceived prejudice of the majority.

Mr. Peter Atkinson (Hexham)

I join the chorus of condemnation of the Bill. I am sorry that we are here finishing off a piece of legislation which I agree is deeply illiberal.

It is a pity that we are here to abolish many people's livelihoods. I take issue with my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg) as, although the Bill involves 11 farmers with 13 farms, those farms employ a large number of people, some on a full-time basis and many more on a part-time basis. The hon. Member for Liverpool, Garston (Maria Eagle) shakes her head; she may like to visit the farm in my constituency where I will introduce her to the staff that work there. Those people have jobs in an area where employment is hard to find, so the Bill will have a considerable impact on the local economy where the farms are based.

Angela Smith (Basildon)

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that the Bill is fundamentally more honest than the proposals made by his hon. Friends in Committee, which would have improved the standards to such an extent that fur farmers would have been put out of business? The Bill will give them compensation, whereas his hon. Friends' proposals would not.

Mr. Atkinson

I take the standpoint that the whole measure is completely wrong. I think that fur farmers should be allowed to continue their businesses under the existing regulations, which are now being tightened up in Europe to improve the conditions under which mink are kept. The hon. Lady may disagree, but the logic is that our action today will put fur farmers in the United Kingdom out of business, so there will be an increase in production, particularly in eastern European countries where conditions are much worse than they are here. What, then, is the benefit for animal welfare? How will the mink benefit?

We are discussing a narrow measure and I am concerned for my constituent, Mr. Harrison, who tonight is no nearer knowing how much he might get for his business than he was several months ago. Although I appreciate that Ministers hide behind the legalistic fig leaf that they cannot proceed until the Bill has received Royal Assent, I believe that negotiations should have started much earlier so that fur farmers would know precisely how much they were likely to get. We still do not know some of the parameters involved. For instance, for how long will compensation for income be available? How long does it take for a fur farmer to establish another business? I have no idea. Will most of the compensation be paid up front? Under normal compulsory purchase procedures, between 80 and 90 per cent. of compensation is paid up front: will fur farmers benefit from the same provision?

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Mr. Hogg

Many fur farmers are near the end of their careers. Does my hon. Friend agree that it will be difficult for them to find alternative employment, whereas they could have hoped to continue with fur farming well into normal retirement?

Mr. Atkinson

That is correct. My constituent, Mr. Harrison, is a man of middle age—I hope that he will not mind my saying that—and has suffered heart problems that were brought on by the stress of endless day-and-night demonstrations outside his farm. It would be difficult for him to start a new enterprise that would bring him anywhere near the same rewards.

The hon. Member for Liverpool, Garston has the wrong idea of what a mink farm looks like, as do the Government. In Committee in another place, Baroness Hayman said:

No compensation should be required for the land—that would have alternative uses—but compensation may be required for buildings and equipment…—[Official Report, House of Lords, 17 October 2000; Vol. 617, c. 34.] Most of the fur farm in my constituency is concreted over, or covered with hard standing, so it cannot be dug up to grow strawberries. The hard standing covers several acres, and will have virtually no value after the farm has been closed down.

Maria Eagle

It is not true that I have no idea what mink farms look like. Will the hon. Gentleman accept that I have visited them, and I have met his constituent, Mr. Harrison?

Mr. Atkinson

I do accept that, but the hon. Lady's words implied that she thinks that fur farms cover rolling acres. They do not: they are small outfits, and most are made up largely of hard standing and concrete.

Mr. James Gray (North Wiltshire)

The hon. Member for Liverpool, Garston (Maria Eagle) protests that she has visited fur farms. I am delighted that she has, but does my hon. Friend recall that on Second Reading of her private Member's Bill on this matter she was forced to admit that she had not visited a fur farm? She was determined to ban them anyway. She has since seen reason and visited one, but she had not done so at the time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. We do not want to stray too far down that road, nor do we want a Second Reading debate. I hope that the hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Atkinson) will confine himself to the amendments.

Mr. Atkinson

I take your stricture seriously, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and I am sure that the hon. Member for Liverpool, Garston—who is now engaged in heated debate with my hon. Friend the Member for North Wiltshire (Mr. Gray) behind your Chair—has visited a fur farm.

Mr. Bercow

In reflecting on the need for a generous compensation scheme, what assessment has my hon. Friend made of those people who, in 1996 or 1997, might have contemplated starting a career in fur farming in the apparently confident knowledge that the Labour party was not committed to abolishing the industry?

Mr. Atkinson

My hon. Friend makes an interesting point. I had not considered it, but perhaps the Minister will respond to it.

My final point concerns the House's ability to review the compensation scheme, when it is at last agreed. If at that time the Government are still talking about £400,000 plus four times that figure for income, they will need to be much more generous. I hope that the Minister will give the House a more generous estimate of the amounts involved in the compensation scheme.

In addition, it would be right for the House to have a further opportunity to consider the compensation scheme in detail. That would be preferable to the blunt instrument that is the statutory instrument procedure, which allows hon. Members only to reject or accept a proposal. We must be able to ensure that fur farmers are treated generously and fairly.

Mr. Eric Forth (Bromley and Chislehurst)

The abbreviated debate that has taken place thus far illustrates the extent of the problems that arose at the start of this saga—under the previous and the current Bill. It is becoming increasingly obvious that the crucial point on compensation—rightly, a constant theme—has still not been resolved. Despite the Minister's attempt to be helpful, I am not sure that we are much further on.

I regret not only the Bill itself and its whole basis, but the fact that we find ourselves in the rather demeaning position of discussing a group of people whose livelihood has been destroyed by statute and who are holding out a metaphorical begging bowl for taxpayers' money in compensation. That demeans them and, in a way, it demeans us as well. It raises the question—which I shall not pursue, because you would not permit me to do so, Mr. Deputy Speaker—of whether and when it is appropriate for those whose livelihoods are destroyed or affected by statute to be compensated by the taxpayer in some way. Clearly, the taxpayer would make such compensation, not the Government. The Government have no money; they have our money and they hand it out—usually in fairly ill-conceived ways. We should not forget that.

In effect the Minister is saying, "Trust me. The form of the compensation scheme has not been worked out yet; I am going to consult". "Consult" is a good word—one much used by Ministers these days. The Minister apparently intends to set up some expert body—I think he said "assessors". That makes my blood run cold. Whenever experts or assessors are involved, we can bet that there will be a mess. Those experts will talk to the potential recipients of the taxpayers' money, so I suppose that we—as the guardians of the taxpayer—are the only people who can make the other side of the argument.

I can see how the Minister will be involved; his experts and assessors will roam the country to talk to the people who are holding out a begging bowl. This debate is our only opportunity to make representations on behalf of the people whose money is to be handed out. We should not forget that there are two sides to the argument.

The Minister told us that the assessors will do their thing. Presumably, under the provisions of the Bill, the Government will then make an order to give effect to the details of the scheme. At that point, we surmise, it will come back to the House in the form of a statutory instrument, which of course—as usual—will not be amendable. In any case, the result of all the consultation of which the Minister is so proud will be worked up into a statutory instrument, as the Bill provides; and we shall then be asked to say yes or no to it.

Mr. Hogg

My understanding of the Bill—the Minister will correct me if I am wrong—is that the statutory instrument will be subject to the negative resolution procedure. That being so, it will not be the subject of an affirmative vote and will almost certainly not be debated by the House.

Mr. Forth

In my typically generous way, I was trying to give the Minister the benefit of the doubt. My right hon. and learned Friend, whose powers of analysis are legendary, has spotted the fact that there will be no affirmative vote, so I must withdraw my generosity. If the Minister confirms that my right hon. and learned Friend is correct, matters are worse than they seem. We really are no further forward.

Mr. Bercow

My right hon. Friend has not only been generous to the Government in public: in a conversation I held with him a few moments ago, he was generous about their intentions in private. I trust his experience of this place; he had surmised that the statutory instrument or order would be subject to the affirmative procedure. Does he agree that it is thoroughly unacceptable both that it will not be subject to that procedure and that the Government, in failing to tell us that important fact, are guilty of scurrilous sleight of hand?

Mr. Forth

I fear that is all too typical. My hon. Friend is a keen observer of these matters; he is aware that a parade of Ministers come to the Chamber to speak to us on various matters, giving us bland words and trying to be reassuring. However, we do not have to dig very deep to find that matters are not as they seem. The Minister has much explaining to do to satisfy Members in the Chamber at present, let alone those unfortunates whose livelihoods are about to be destroyed.

Clause 5 and the Lords amendments to it are, in many ways, the key to the Bill; that is why their lordships spent so much time on them. The amendments make an attempt, do they not, to flesh out and make more satisfactory the definitions of income and non-income, which are at the heart of the compensation scheme? However, I am not sure that they take us much further forward. I recognise that the compensation will be subject to the assessors, the Minister and his officials, consultation and statutory instruments—all that—but before we finally approve the Bill, if we are minded to do so, incorporating the Lords amendments, we need to know what definition of "income" will be used.

These days, "income" can mean, in a business context, gross or net income. It can mean the gross takings of an enterprise, or its profitable results before or after tax, or before or after deductions. Even that apparently simple word has many possible definitions. We need a much fuller explanation of its meaning here.

The Minister has said that he is not in a position to explain now, but while we are considering the Lords amendments, as against the original text of the Bill, we are entitled to pause and press the Minister to give us a clearer idea of the way in which he will guide the experts and assessors—which I assume he will want to do—before they go out and meet the unfortunates whose livelihoods are to be destroyed.

Mr. Morley


Mr. Forth

Oh, the Minister is going to be helpful now.

Mr. Morley

It may help if I explain to the right hon. Gentleman that the assessors will be independent assessors. They will not be Ministry officials or Ministry employees. They will conduct the assessment subject to the guidelines laid down by their professional association, which will probably be the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. There are very clear ways of assessing income and valuation on that basis, and it will be done in consultation with the farmers concerned. If farmers wish their own independent assessors to do the same and to discuss with the Ministry assessors, they are of course free to do so.

Mr. Forth

That is a very generous offer by the Minister—he is saying, "If you, whose livelihood is about to be destroyed, would like to spend even more of your money getting your experts to argue with the taxpayer-funded experts, you are free to do so". I am grateful to the Minister.

Mr. Hogg

My right hon. Friend might want to raise the point that the assessment will be done in accordance with the scheme, and the scheme is laid out by the Under-Secretary, and it can be as mean as he likes as long as it falls within the terms of the statute. That is why my amendments are so important.

Mr. Forth

Of course my right hon. and learned Friend's amendments are important; I accept that. I shall discuss the meanness in due course. I am only just warming up, as he knows, and there is a long way to go yet. As I was getting into my stride, I wanted to see whether I could tease the Minister into giving us an idea of his thinking on gross or net income. He has given us no idea, because he has now said that the experts will go out armed with a scheme of some kind, the details of which we do not know but they may or may not know. Even so, and even given that the experts will talk to the unfortunate recipients of taxpayers' money, we have no idea whether the amount of compensation will be based on gross income to the enterprise as an income flow, or whether the experts will pay more attention to net income after expenses, tax and so on. That is rather important.

When we come to the non-income assets and the compensation for them, we get into even deeper water. I am sure that some people outside this place believed that the compensation scheme would start from the premise that the non-income assets, buildings and particularly land, would be valued independently and expertly—a not unreasonable starting point.

Now the hon. Member for Liverpool, Garston (Maria Eagle) has brought strawberries into the argument—no doubt trying, in her usual way, to help. However, the strawberry argument is worrying. If the assessment is to take account not just of a valuation of the land, buildings, assets and so on, which we can all well understand, but of all possible alternative uses such as strawberries or otherwise, we are in deep water—if a strawberry can be in deep water. The matter is becoming increasingly complicated.

5.45 pm

The Minister appears serene, but I hope that, when he winds up this little debate, he will be able to give us a much clearer idea of when we can begin to consider compensation for non-income assets. Will we start with a clean sheet, and will he say that his experts will be able to consider the way in which the businesses operate and the assets that they deploy, without any constraint or guidelines from him or his officials?

My hon. Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Atkinson) was helpful when he described his constituent's fur farm which had been concreted over. I have been led to believe that other fur farms occupy a considerable acreage of a variety of land. I do not know how many strawberries the hon. Member for Garston had in mind when she came up with her idea, but it strikes me that there could be a wide variation in the nature of the non-income assets involved. I hope that that means that there will be a flexible approach towards the compensation that might be available for them.

The point that I am making in my introductory remarks is that more questions remain than have been answered already. The Bill is in its final stages and people's livelihoods have been threatened. Their lordships have tried to be helpful in sending the amendments to us, but I am not sure that they take us much further forward. Unless the Minister is a lot more persuasive than he has been hitherto, I will not be persuaded that we are heading in the right direction.

So much for the preliminaries: let us get down to business. The issue of timing has come up in the debate already, and I have considered it. On the face of it, one would have thought that the matter would and should have been resolved already, and not just by clause 5, which is the subject of the amendments. I looked for guidance in clause 7 (3), which states:

Section 5 shall come into force at the end of the period of two months beginning with the day on which this Act is passed. It is a matter of detail, but I presume that the term "the Act is passed" means Royal Assent rather than the Act being finally approved by both Houses of Parliament. I do not want to make much of an issue of that, because I suspect that the time difference between the two will not be great. It seems clear that the Act will come into force two months after it is passed.

The problem is that clause 7(2) says that sections 1 to 4 of the Act will not come into force before 1 January 2003. It is possible that the compensation process, which is the subject of clause 5 and the amendments, will take place in an extended period of time. That leaves many questions unanswered. For example, what would happen if a business went out of business in the interim period? How will we be able to judge whether the fact that a business has failed is attributable to the effect of the Act prior to the date of January 2003? Will the date be taken into account? Will people be able to go into voluntary liquidation as a result of the threat of the Act coming into force, or will they have to wait until it comes into effect?

The passage of time can have an important influence on the valuation of the assets. For example, on income or non-income assets, the passage of time may lead to considerable variation in the values of the product itself—the unfortunate animals—or the land and buildings. Those values may vary considerably upwards or downwards in a few months and they certainly would in two or three years. That could considerably affect the amount of compensation provided.

We need to know much more from the Minister on the important subject of the period between the Act being passed and the date of January 2003 or beyond. As my hon. Friend the Member for Hexham asked, will the compensation scheme continue to exist beyond that date? Although the businesses may be arbitrarily ended by statute on a certain date, it is perfectly possible that there will be a lengthy period beyond that before the formalities are complete and the compensation is required or payable. We need to know more about that.

Mr. Hogg

My right hon. Friend might press the Minister on another matter. A business that closes down after the Bill is enacted may do so not because its activity is prohibited but because the owner is seeking to get the best value at that time. We do not want the Minister then to say that no compensation is payable because the closure is the result not of the prohibition but of the fur farmer's choice to dispose of his land at the best possible price.

Mr. Forth

My right hon. and learned Friend helpfully expands a point that I was trying to make. There is considerable doubt about the scope or flexibility in the application of clause 5 and the amendments tabled to it, and whether a voluntary liquidation or going out of business will be treated in the same way as an enforced going out of business. There is a difference. For example, if the value of pelts or, for a reason that we cannot foresee, the value of land or buildings, varied considerably, could farmers determine the timing of their compensation claims or would it be arbitrarily imposed on them by the Minister, his experts and officials? We do not know the answer to that, but we must have it before we decide whether to approve the amendments.

The amendments hint at that. Lords amendment No. 2 says that the scheme

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—

an escape clause if ever I saw one. When we considered the Bill's text in its different incarnations here and in another place, we were led to believe that, at long last, we were to be given the certainty of a compensation scheme. The people whose livelihoods were going to be destroyed could at least rest easy because they were guaranteed compensation, but Lords amendment No. 2 appears to allow the Minister to wriggle out of that.

Mr. Bercow

I am of a suspicious turn of mind, as my right hon. Friend is aware. We are told that clause 5 will come into force two months after the Bill becomes an Act. We are also told that clause 5(5) will facilitate an appeal or reference to the Lands Tribunal for determination when someone has been notified of the amount that he is to be paid but is dissatisfied with it. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the provision in Lords amendment No. 2 for circumstances in which no compensation arrangements are to be made could be used as a lever against someone who was intending to negotiate over a relatively long period—as near as possible to the rest of the Act coming into force in 2003—to browbeat him to an early settlement on the basis that he might otherwise get nothing at all?

Mr. Forth

My hon. Friend is right. Once one gets into that territory, such considerations—regrettably—become all too possible. My hon. Friend's question leads me to ask whether the Lands Tribunal will deal only with disputes that are about amounts or whether they could be about whether compensation should be payable.

Mrs. Llin Golding (Newcastle-under-Lyme)

What if the owner of a fur farm dies and has no one in place to manage it? The loss would be tremendous. If he dies within the three years, what happens to compensation for his family? Is it reduced because the farm is non-existent?

Mr. Forth

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for making that important point. It is a subset of the argument that I made a moment ago concerning the possible variation in value, which would decrease rather rapidly in the tragic circumstances that the hon. Lady described. Is the Minister satisfied that proper arrangements will be made if such events unfold? Does he agree that the value—income or non-income—could be dramatically affected by them? I hope that he will respond to our concerns about that.

On the Lands Tribunal, hon. Members who have been following the Bill's tortuous passage through Parliament will recall that we wanted a body other than the Lands Tribunal to play a part in the scheme, because we were unhappy about that organisation's ability and expertise to deal with such matters properly. The compensation arrangements as set out in clause 5 and the amendments have given us a different angle to consider and have given rise to another doubt in our minds.

If the Minister, feeling more hard-hearted than normal, were to invoke the provisions of Lords amendment No. 2 and say that he was not prepared to provide compensation, could that be regarded as a dispute under clause 5(5) and be referred to the Lands Tribunal? In other words, will the Lands Tribunal be a court of appeal against the Minister—urged on by his officials, experts or others—saying that no payment will be made? We need to know, because that will be an important aspect of the way in which the scheme operates and relevant to the reassurances that we want to give to people whose livelihoods are about to be taken away from them.

Mr. Hogg

My right hon. Friend gets to the root of the scheme. The problem is that the compensation and the categories of people who are entitled to it flow from the scheme as published. Does my right hon. Friend accept that the real problem is that the House will never have the opportunity to discuss—and, therefore, to shape—the scheme on which the answers to the question posed by my right hon. Friend will ultimately depend?

Mr. Forth

I am prepared—just once more—to be slightly more generous to the Minister than my right hon. and learned Friend. The Minister could give us an undertaking even now—

Mr. Bercow

If he were listening.

Mr. Forth

He appears not to be, but the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is here. Perhaps he will intervene and give us an assurance that the House will at the very least have the opportunity explicitly to debate—[Interruption.] It was worth a try. Had the right hon. Gentleman stayed, he would have had that opportunity, but perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary can confirm that the matter will come back to the House, even if we cannot amend it, so that we have the chance to throw it out completely and tell the Government to think again. That series of questions requires an answer.

Intriguingly, Lords amendment No. 3 seeks to change the wording of clause 5(2)(b), which at present states that the scheme may specify the amounts of the payments to be made or the basis on which such amounts are to be calculated, adding after "basis" the words "or bases". I am not sure whether that is an improvement. I can see the argument both ways. We might decide, as the other place did, that if we restricted the measure to one scheme with a single basis, it would not be sufficiently flexible to deal with the undoubtedly different circumstances that surround all the enterprises that might be affected. It could be argued that we require more than one basis, which is what the amendment does. That might be a plus, but in some circumstances could become a disadvantage.

6 pm

It is not impossible to envisage schemes designed to minimise rather than maximise payments to the unfortunates whose livelihoods are about to be destroyed by this statute. We have no idea, as far as I am aware, of the amounts of money that the Minister has available to him to give in compensation. We know with a reasonable degree of certainty how many enterprises will be affected, although that figure is not as firm as some might think because of the amount of time that may pass and other varying circumstances. However, we certainly do not know the effect of the passage of time, and it is at least possible, until we are reassured otherwise by the Minister, that several different schemes, as allowed under the proposed wording in Lords amendment No. 3, could be devised to be as miserly rather than as generous as possible.

The Minister has given us no idea of his thinking on the matter. Is he going to instruct his officials and assessors to devise schemes that will recognise as fully and generously as possible all effects—income and non-income—on the enterprises? Will he say that he knows that any compensation will come from taxpayers' money but that Parliament has decided to remove fur farmers' livelihoods and that therefore they should be fully compensated? Will we all be able to hold our heads up at least in the knowledge that when the jackboot of government has walked across those people's land, they will be properly and adequately compensated?

Mr. Bercow

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is important to know, and to know this evening, the significance of the use of the plural? The Minister's brow is furrowed, but there is no need for any misunderstanding. Would it not be helpful to know whether the existence of a number of bases of calculation will afford some choice for the victim, or whether it is simply a vehicle for the exercise of administrative fiat by a bureaucrat?

Mr. Forth

That is of course the point at issue. It is not unreasonable to ask the Minister whether at this stage he would be prepared to give some reassurance—not to us, although we, as custodians of the taxpayer, need some as well. The thrust of this short debate is that we want the victims to have as much knowledge as possible of what the Government have in mind, the direction in which they want to move and the amounts of money that might be involved. I do not think that that is asking too much.

The Minister could say, "I have £6 million"—or £60 million or £600 million. He could say that his guidance to the experts and assessors will be to find ways in which to give the people affected as much compensation as is properly possible. Or one could envisage circumstances in which he could say the complete opposite: "We want to get away with paying as little as possible because we do not like these people, which is why we are destroying their livelihoods, and we do not see why they should get much of the taxpayers' money." There is a wide spectrum between the one and the other, and any number of positions in between.

Lords amendment No. 5 confused me; I am not really sure how much further it is supposed to take us. Perhaps the Minister will explain. The proposal is no doubt an attempt to be helpful but—and here is an interesting question—does it really add anything? Does it clarify, elucidate or help us in any way? Presumably, their lordships believed that they were being helpful. Perhaps they were bamboozled by the Government and the Government came up with the words. It would be fairly typical of them if they did. I cannot imagine that the amendment is designed to be helpful. Let us look at it again:

income losses" means losses of income. That does not help me very much.

Mr. Hogg


Mr. Forth

Perhaps it helps my right hon. and learned Friend.

Mr. Hogg

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is interesting that the amendment does not stipulate "all income losses"? One can imagine at least two classes of income loss. One is trading loss—the ordinary profit and loss account—and the other the loss of the rental that a farmer might receive if he let out the facilities. My right hon. Friend will know that I have tabled an amendment that includes the word "all", which would mean that all income losses would fall within the scheme. Does he think that there is merit in that?

Mr. Forth

I had hoped that it would go without saying that I find merit throughout my right hon. and learned Friend's amendments. Indeed, I hope to be supporting him. If the Government are foolish enough not to accept his amendments, I hope that he will seek to divide the House on them. I will certainly give him every assistance in that so that we can tell who is who and who is coming from where in this argument.

To return to the words of the Lords amendment, even my right hon. and learned Friend has not been able to help me. In fact, I am now more worried. Even if we added the word "all", the proposal might help us or it might confuse the issue and muddy the waters. I am beginning to suspect that much in the Bill—and, if I may say so, the amendments, which I suppose were designed to be helpful—takes us no further forward, gives us little advice on what is going on and leaves us with numerous questions for the Minister.

I should have thought that, by this stage—having been through the preliminary bout of the private Member's Bill of the hon. Member for Garston and all the proceedings here and in another place on this Government Bill—we would have arrived at the crossing of t's and dotting of i's, but we have done nothing of the kind. Without trying very hard, my right hon. Friends and I have come up with a myriad of questions. The Minister looks as if he wants to be helpful—I hope he does—and perhaps will be able to avoid any contention or a Division by coming forward reasonably and helpfully as he always does. He is smiling encouragingly; I hope that he will give a full explanation so that we can all rest easy knowing the shape of the Bill, the direction it will take, the guidance that will be given and what we can expect.

The Minister might even ice the cake by giving an undertaking that any detailed scheme devised by his experts, in consultation and so on, will be put before the House. I would like any such decision to be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure, but at least under the negative resolution procedure we would be given a chance to consider the scheme and then decide whether to accept it or throw it out because we could not amend it.

Such questions are just a hint of those that come readily to the surface. We have not even dug deeply. I would not test your patience, Mr. Deputy Speaker, by trying to do so today. We have just quickly skimmed the surface. All such questions arise from the Lords amendments. I hope that the Minister will be able to reassure us, help us and give us all the information that we feel we need at this stage to make our assessment as a House.

Mrs. Golding

I, too, have been puzzled by the "non-income losses" to which amendment No. 5 refers.

I cannot work out what it means either. Does the right hon. Gentleman think that it could mean losses to do with the hooligans who stand outside fur farmers' houses, damage their property, scrape their cars and let down or slash their tyres, as they have in my constituency? Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would explain.

Mr. Forth

I am grateful to the hon. Lady; such things will have to be looked at. If the Minister is serious about the consultation process that he has described—in which, I guess, his assessors would be armed with guidelines, criteria and some standard scheme, which seemed to impress him—assessors would talk to the hon. Lady's constituents and others affected about the basis on which the scheme should be devised. If that worked properly, it would be an opportunity for those affected to point out that, as the hon. Lady has said, some people have been subject to the most ghastly victimisation, thuggery and destruction of property, all in the name of animal rights and welfare. I hope that that will be fully taken into account.

Mr. Hogg

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for giving way. The hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mrs. Golding) raised an important point. Many of fur farmers have incurred huge security expenditure in trying to guard their property against the offensive activity carried out by those trying to disrupt their business and by the proponents of the Bill outside the House. Should not such substantial security expenditure be recoverable?

Mr. Forth

I am grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend. That touches on a question that arose earlier—whether the security measures had been put in some time ago or recently. It is perfectly possible that they were put in just before people were made aware, through a manifesto or whatever else, that it was the intention of new Labour to destroy their livelihood.

There is another, related question—whether the security arrangements would enhance the value of the property. I am grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend for pointing me in that direction. It is possible that the security arrangements would be useful to protect the strawberries when they came on to the scene.

The strawberries mentioned by the hon. Member for Garston are becoming an important part of the debate. When we were discussing income and non-income losses in terms of the Lords amendments and the clause in its original form, the hon. Lady helpfully pointed out that in at least one case, a fur farm had been converted—profitably, she implied—to the growing of strawberries. We would have to consider such alternative use. When we introduce the matter of security arrangements, that raises the interesting question of the extent to which those could be seen as enhancing the value of the property, depending on what its alternative use might be. Another area of doubt has appeared, which I hope the Minister—

Mrs. Golding


Mr. Forth

I will give way to the hon. Lady, although I am desperately trying to conclude—

Mr. John Gummer (Suffolk, Coastal)


Mr. Forth

Now I am besieged. I give way to my right hon. Friend, then I will be more than happy to give way to the hon. Lady.

Mr. Gummer

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend. On his point about income losses meaning losses of income, I find it difficult to understand how income losses could mean anything else. In clause 5, to which Lords amendment No. 5 refers, it is difficult to find any instance in which the term "income losses" is used, but many other terms much more otiose than that are used. Does my right hon. Friend consider that that phrase properly refers to clause 5(2)? If not, clause 5(2) ought to have some similar explanation, if an explanation is necessary in so simple a matter as income losses and non-income losses.

Mr. Forth

Subject to what the Minister may say to guide us, that is what Lords amendment No. 2 may be intended to do. It refers to

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 to

the description or descriptions of businesses in respect of which payments are to be made.

In other words, the scheme is obliged to take account of those. The clause goes on, rather worryingly, as my right hon. Friend will know, to introduce an exclusion clause, which could potentially mean that nothing was paid at all.

However, we know the Minister well enough—or we hope that we do—to know that that is not in his mind. He may want to tell us why he is prepared to recommend to the House that that amendment be included. He may even tell us whether it was the Government or he himself who initiated it, or whether it arose in another place, has come to us in the form of a Lords amendment and is accepted by the Government with more or less reluctance.

6.15 pm
Mr. Gummer

Perhaps I did not make myself clear. I do not understand why the Government seek to change the wording of clause 5(2) and why, having changed the wording, presumably to make it clearer, they need an addendum to explain what the clearer wording means, whereas they did not need an addendum to explain what the original, less clear, wording meant. Can that be cleared up?

Mr. Forth

Not by me. I am as puzzled as my right hon. Friend. [Interruption.] As my hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow) helpfully says, I am not the author. My right hon. Friend simply reinforces what I said earlier: we need an explanation from the Minister as to whether the proposed new wording is helpful or obfuscatory. I suspect that it may be the latter.

Mr. Bercow

Given the uncertain impact of security considerations on the value of the sites—a consideration that my right hon. Friend helpfully highlighted—does he agree that it becomes particularly important to ensure that the consultation process is long enough to allow these matters properly to be taken into account? If the Government do not see sense, is there not a danger that if clause 5 is implemented two months after the passage of the Act, it will be arbitrary, capricious and damaging?

Mr. Forth

I hope that my hon. Friend is incorrect. Again, the Minister is under an obligation to give us a clearer idea of the scope and duration of the consultation process. One can see arguments both ways. One imagines that the people whose livelihoods are to be destroyed by the statute may want the matter to be resolved as quickly as possible, but is there not a tension between that and the need for proper consultation and for the matter to be properly dealt with by the Minister's experts and assessors?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising the matter. It would be appropriate—nay, essential—for the Minister to tell us, in his introduction to the Lords amendments, how long he believes the consultation process should go on in order to meet all the requirements. So many questions have been raised during the debate, although the matter looked so simple—

Mrs. Golding

I am sorry to intrude on the right hon. Gentleman's concluding remarks. It occurred to me that when the consultations had virtually finished, the so-called animal rights protesters—those thugs—might come along and release mink again, as they did to the fur farmer in my constituency. The fur farmer would then have to meet the cost of rounding the animals up and installing additional security for a very short time. Would that be taken into account, even though an agreement was already in hand?

Mr. Forth

The hon. Lady raises an important point. Let us envisage the circumstances in which the assessors have consulted and agreed with the victims how the package will operate. The statutory instrument is then devised and brought before the House—under which procedure, we know not yet. I hope that we will be reassured by the Minister.

Under the terms of the package, the assessors go out again, armed with their thick book of regulations about how the scheme will work, run their slide rule over the concrete or whatever it may be—the buildings and so on—and arrive at a figure. They go away and everybody feels reassured, except that between that point and the finalisation, the thugs come along and wreak further havoc on the innocent person plying his legal trade, and diminish the value of the property.

What mechanism, the hon. Lady asks, exists to allow for the fact that there may be a dramatic reduction in the value of the property, and possibly also the livestock, caused by mindless thugs between the time of the apparent settlement of the compensation and the payment being made? Will there be an expiry time? That takes us back to a question that we have already raised. One can begin to see that all these questions interrelate and interact in a way—[Interruption.] If the late-coming hon. Member for West Ham (Mr. Banks) wants to intervene—[Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst)


Mr. Forth

Indeed, Mr. Deputy Speaker. As you know, I am always happy to take proper interventions, even from the hon. Gentleman, but I am trying to conclude my remarks.

The hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme has raised an important point—not a theoretical point, but one which, given the experience of her constituency, could well arise in the most regrettable, unfortunate and, frankly, disgusting circumstances.

We have posed a number of questions to the Minister. It is his job now to seek to reassure the House on those matters before we have to make up our minds whether to divide the House. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg) might agree that if the Minister can answer all our questions to our satisfaction, fully and comprehensively, he will consider not pressing the amendment to a Division. However, if the Minister falls short of that standard and requirement, we may want to test the view of the House.

Mr. Norman Baker (Lewes)

I shall try to redress the balance of the debate. We have heard several speeches against the Bill, and I remind the House that so far the Bill has worked its way successfully through all stages in this place and in another place. I hope that it is now close to enactment. A clear majority of Members on both sides of the Chamber support it, and it has clear support among the public. I introduced a Bill to outlaw fur farming in March 1998. The issue has been the subject of considerable discussion and it is disingenuous for the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth) to say—I hope that I quote him accurately—that this is the only opportunity to make representations. There have been many opportunities to make representations on the Bill—

Mr. Forth

Not on Lords amendments.

Mr. Baker

My reference to the right hon. Gentleman's remarks did not refer only to Lords amendments. It related to the compensation package, which has been discussed ad infinitum, if not ad nauseam, in the House, in Committee and in another place.

There are about 13 fur farmers throughout the country. They can feel that they have had a good innings in the House and elsewhere in terms of their views being represented. I do not wish to denigrate those people because the rights of one individual in this country are as important philosophically as the rights of 1 million people. When somebody's livelihood is taken away it is appropriate that the issues are properly discussed and subject to scrutiny, and that has happened in this instance. I have supported the process and participated in it. The issues have been thoroughly aired, and we can feel justified in having participated in that process.

The hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Atkinson)—

Mr. Hogg

Will the hon. Gentleman tell us what he thinks the compensation amounts to?

Mr. Baker

I wish to make progress, but I shall take up that specific point. We have had what I regard as clear assurances from the Minister that the compensation scheme will be introduced. There are signs that it will be widened beyond the scope that it would have had previously. It is for the Minister to make his own case. I believe that he is an honourable man, and when he says that compensation will be provided, I believe that it will be. I am happy to take his word for that. I do not believe that a charlatan scheme will be introduced to defraud about a dozen people. We have had clear assurances, and for Members to suggest otherwise is to be somewhat disingenuous.

Mr. Bercow

As the hon. Gentleman knows, I have the highest respect for him. Will he accept from me that no Conservative Member, as far as I am aware, is suggesting that the Minister is a charlatan. Certainly not. However, there is scope for honest difference of opinion. Does the hon. Gentleman accept that it is dangerous for him to imply that the fur farmers should be rather grateful that these matters have taken up as much time as they have in the House, when they are innocent victims? Does he accept also that the details of compensation arrangements are crucial and not minor matters, and that they should properly be subject to the affirmative procedure?

Mr. Baker

The time of the House is necessarily limited—

Mr. Peter Atkinson

By what?

Mr. Baker

For one thing, there are only so many hours in the day.

Mr. Forth

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Will you confirm that the Order Paper clearly indicates that there is no limitation on time for this debate, or happily on the one that is to follow?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

There is no time limitation if the House agrees the 10 o'clock motion. I think that the right hon. Gentleman knows that his intervention is unnecessary. The context in which the hon. Member for Lewes (Mr. Baker) made his point was perfectly clear.

Mr. Baker

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for your stout defence. I shall try to remember the interventions and return to them. I do not want to lose the points.

The time of the House is limited in the sense that there are 24 hours a day and seven days in a week, and many matters can be brought before the House. For example, the Minister, who is sitting in his place patiently, might be at Lewes dealing with the 400 people who have been evacuated from their houses, and with businesses that have been driven out of the area by the recent floods. However, he is in his place and—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is falling into a similar trap to the one that I have just described.

Mr. Baker

Of course, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I accept your stricture.

I return to the intervention of the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow), on which I was invited to comment. Of course our respect is mutual. I agree that the statutory instruments should be amendable under the affirmative procedure. It is a point that I have often made in the House. The point goes wider than this debate and the amendment. I will not stray further down that road. The Government should agree that it is in their interests to adopt the affirmative procedure in the interests of good legislation, rather than have errors creep in subsequently.

The hon. Member for Hexham described the Bill—I believe that I am right—as "deeply illiberal". As a Liberal, I do not regard it as such. I recognise that there is a balance to be struck. Rights are being removed from individuals and the House should be extremely careful when it takes that course. Equally, there are significant public ethic issues to be addressed. The majority of the population believe that fur farming is unethical, and the Government have responded to that. I believe that the correct balance has been struck.

The compensation scheme has featured in much of the discussion so far. There are inconsistencies in the way in which compensation matters are dealt with now, and historically. The right hon. and learned Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg) talked about head deboning. The hon. Member for North Thanet (Mr. Gale) talked about quarantine, quite rightly. We are talking about people who have had their businesses slashed. The number of customers who will use their kennels has been significantly reduced. It is proper to bring that issue into the debate. I accept that there is no compensation in that case. However, there was no compensation for the thousands of miners who had their livelihoods removed by the Conservative Government, who implemented a vindictive policy through the then Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.

It is difficult to argue for a rigorous compensation scheme that is absolutely watertight when the same principles have not been applied in other instances.

Mr. Forth

My memory may be failing me. I find that I have more senile moments as time passes. However, I recall that miners received very generous compensation or redundancy packages when their livelihoods were removed. I would be surprised if the hon. Gentleman cannot remember that.

Mr. Baker

That is not my recollection. However, I shall pass on the right hon. Gentleman's comments to the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner). They can discuss whether the miners received a generous compensation package.

Compensation has been the issue. I think that Members should accept the assurances that we have received from Ministers. As I have said, I agree with the hon. Member for Buckingham that statutory instruments should be amendable by being subject to the affirmative procedure. However, that is not how legislation works. The procedure was not changed in 18 years of Conservative Government. Surely it is rather difficult for them to argue that the procedures are not right now. They did not seek to change them when they were in government for such a long time.

We should try to make progress. I shall shortly resume my place to make my contribution towards that end. I say gently to the Opposition that I, along with many others, do not equate the length of speeches to the effectiveness of opposition. If they were to make more effective points rather more succinctly, the Government might be more sympathetic towards them. Perhaps they might apply that tactic on occasion.

The Bill has been a long time coming, and many people want to see it enacted. The amendments are satisfactory and I hope that we will not continue to make mountains out of molehills. Let us treat the issues seriously, seek assurances from Ministers and seek also to make progress.

Mr. Gummer

A point that has only recently been touched on worries me. I need to raise it, given my experience. It is—[Interruption.] When the hon. Member for Liverpool, Garston (Maria Eagle) hears the point, she will understand why I am raising it. When I was Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, I was concerned with compensation for those who were in Land Settlement Association areas. [Interruption.] If the hon. Members for Basildon (Angela Smith) and for Garston waited a moment, they would have found that one sometimes apologises for getting things wrong. We got something wrong when we specified that the compensation would not attract taxation. Under those circumstances, people who had been defrauded of much of their livelihood as a result of the appalling manner in which the Land Settlement Association had been run expected to get compensation under a scheme that was clear to the public, unlike the scheme that we are now considering. Those people then found themselves without that compensation because the Inland Revenue demanded that some of it should come back to the Revenue in taxation.

6.30 pm

I am sure that the Minister will not repeat that mistake. However, a problem arises as a result of amendment No. 5. which inserts into clause 5 the words "income losses". By changing the original language of the clause, it may well be that that which would not have been taxable has become taxable. I have a fundamental reason for raising this matter. When the Minister puts into operation what, I am sure, will be an honourable and decent scheme, he will be given the gross figures involved, so he may feel that the compensation is perfectly reasonable. However, once taxation is applied, he may think otherwise.

Mr. Hogg

My right hon. Friend makes a serious point and I am familiar with the scheme to which he referred. Will he consider the suggestion that the Inland Revenue should be consulted on the scheme before it is published and should give clear guidance on its implications? All parties should be involved in those early discussions with the Revenue.

Mr. Gummer

I am sure that the Minister can only assent to my right hon. Friend's suggestion, as this matter raises considerable difficulties. The Minister will know that several of my right hon. Friends and I are still fighting a case that ought to have been sorted out about 12 years ago. The hon. Member for Lewes (Mr. Baker) rightly underlined the fact that, philosophically, the concerns of one of Her Majesty's subjects are as important as those of 1 million. I believe that that is a practical as well as a philosophical argument, because if the House is here for anything, it is to defend individuals, especially those who do not happen to be very popular. I am afraid that fur farmers are such individuals. None the less, they have been carrying out what, until now, was a perfectly legal activity which, in almost every other country, is still legitimate.

Mr. Hogg

Including the European Union.

Mr. Gummer

Those countries include our colleagues in the European Union, and many arguments about the Bill derive from that point. Those people ought not to be denied what they might reasonably expect from compensation, which is why I find it difficult to accept the Lords amendments. The Minister will have to explain why we cannot know more about the sums involved and the kind of circumstances in which he hopes to act. However, he must make certain things absolutely clear, and, in that regard, I am not sure whether my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg) went far enough in asking for a pre-discussion with the Inland Revenue. I know perfectly well that, if that discussion took place without ministerial direction, the Inland Revenue would say that income losses meant losses of income and, in that case, must attract income tax. That is unacceptable in the circumstances because the losses of income are, by their nature, putative, whereas income is something that one actually gets. I have always thought it unfair to equate those things as plainly as the Inland Revenue does, but it will do that unless the Minister makes the matter clear beforehand. For that to happen, he must make an agreement before he fixes any figures.

Mr. Bercow

There is a compelling moral case for the compensation to be tax free. However, does my right hon. Friend agree that if the compensation or part thereof is in the form of a redundancy payment, it should be automatically tax free up to a certain level? It would be immensely helpful if the Minister made that clear in his winding-up speech.

Mr. Gummer

Under the wording of the amendment, the Inland Revenue would not accept the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow). The amendment's wording is not as good as the original wording in the Bill, because it makes it more difficult for the Inland Revenue to take the view that my hon. Friend advocates. Income losses are given at a time when redundancy becomes inevitable as the result of legislation being passed.

Mr. Hogg

Building on that point, does my right hon. Friend agree that when a sum is decided, it is important that there is a clear apportionment of income losses and non-income losses, otherwise there is a serious risk that tax will be raised on non-income losses? If losses were clearly distinguished, there is a good argument for saying that the Inland Revenue should not raise any taxes on non-income losses, although it might have a claim on income losses.

Mr. Gummer

My right hon. and learned Friend is right. I am making this speech because, unless we make the matter clear, the mistakes of previous Labour and Conservative Governments in not making things plain in advance to the Land Settlement Association will be repeated. I am not saying that to be antagonistic, as I understand the Minister's problem. I do not share the position of those who have a particular view on fur farming. I do not have a constituency or other interest in the matter, although I am instinctively on the side of those who feel that they are being bullied or who may, in fact, be bullied. Manifestly, those people have been bullied by those who thought that self-righteousness overcame the rule of law.

We do not come to the matter in happy circumstances. Some people who will not get compensation have already been driven from their jobs by those who thought that they had the right to do that in a free country. I have risen to reiterate the role of a Member of Parliament and defend people in those circumstances. Will the Minister assure us that he will make clear the distinction that I have drawn? Will he make a clear, public statement about what the Inland Revenue intends to do, and will he seek to lessen, if not stop, any calculation of income tax on compensation?

I hope that the Minister will go further and deal with the other part of the problem. In the case of non-income losses, will he assure the House that he will be as generous as possible? One should always be generous when asserting one's right to moral superiority. Those people who will lose their jobs do not agree with the decision that the House of Commons and the House of Lords are about to take. We are doing something extremely difficult and asserting that our moral understanding is superior to theirs, whether that is or is not the case. In those circumstances, if we are not to be thought extremely self-righteous, we need to be particularly generous in compensating those whom we are disadvantaging in this way. The House must recognise the seriousness of the issue.

I hope that, given the number of people concerned, the Minister will conclude that generosity should mark his decisions, and that it should extend to a group not known for their generosity—the Inland Revenue commissioners. Were he to do so, he would avoid many years of altercation on the matter and, given the moral opprobrium that has been placed upon these perfectly legitimate businesses, he would gain a reputation as someone who understood the delicacy of the matter.

Mr. Morley

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Lewes (Mr. Baker) for his support, particularly on the Government's intention to ensure that compensation is fair.

I understand the point made by the right hon. Member for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer) on the tax treatment of compensation payments. That will depend on the arrangements set up under the compensation scheme, which will be subject to consultation, but I have asked Ministry officials to ensure that they liaise with the Inland Revenue on the tax consequences when the details of the scheme are being worked out. I hope that that reassures the right hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Gummer

Will the right hon. Gentleman be kind enough to say that when his officials liaise on that matter, they will also liaise on the Land Settlement Association issue, so that it can be cleared up at the same time?

Mr. Morley

The right hon. Gentleman strays beyond the bounds of this narrow debate.

I gently remind the right hon. Gentleman that the previous Administration were responsible for the banning of sow stalls and tethers. There were sound veterinary arguments for that, but also ethical and moral issues concerning the way in which we treat animals. Farmers who switched into those systems received no compensation. In contrast, this Bill does provide compensation.

The hon. Members for North-East Cambridgeshire (Mr. Moss), for Hexham (Mr. Atkinson) and for Basingstoke (Mr. Hunter), and the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth), asked about the details of the scheme. The compensation scheme was much debated on Second Reading and in Committee, when some of the thinking behind the scheme was set out. However, the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst takes seriously the scrutiny of measures such as this, as he is entitled to do, so I shall try to answer his questions.

This is enabling legislation and it is common for such measures to provide for a compensation scheme. The nature of the compensation scheme will be subject to consultation and it will be approved by negative resolution. That is the normal procedure, as it was under the previous Administration. The consultation procedure will be open and public, and people will be able to make their views known. The fur farmers, the people most directly involved, will be part of that.

6.45 pm
Mr. Forth

I invite the hon. Gentleman to go a little further and undertake, on behalf of the Government, that when the matter returns in the form of a statutory instrument, if it is prayed against the Government will provide time for it to be debated.

Mr. Morley

The right hon. Gentleman is an extremely experienced Member and he knows that I shall follow the long-standing procedures which are laid down by the House.

The calculation of income losses will be on the basis of, for example, loss of trading profits, the overall financial state of the industry and its prospects and the individual condition of each business. Non-income losses will include matters such as buildings, equipment, breeding stock and young stock for slaughter. No compensation should be required for the land as it has alternative uses. Compensation may be required for buildings and equipment that do not have alternative uses. A range of other matters could be included in determining compensation, and they were dealt with on Second Reading and in Committee.

Mr. Forth

I am disappointed that the Minister has just said that no compensation will be allowed for land because it has alternative uses. Does he accept that it is conceivable that some land might not have any alternative use, as in the case referred to of the concreted-over land, or that, even where land had an alternative use, it might be far less valuable? Is he really saying—even before consultation—that the scheme that he envisages will not include any element of compensation for the value of land?

Mr. Morley

If fur farmers feel that no use whatever can be made of their land, I am sure that they will make that point in the consultation. However, generally speaking I do not accept that. The hon. Member for Hexham referred to the concrete bases, but in the example given by my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Garston (Maria Eagle) the strawberries are grown on tables under low sheds, laid out in exactly the same way as fur farms. I have been to such strawberry farms and they are commercially successful. I am not saying that all fur farmers could convert to such a business, but it is an option which could be considered.

Mr. Hogg

The Minister will have to reconsider the matter because fur farming is an intensive activity and relatively small areas of land can be used profitably. If fur farming is prohibited, the owner of that land may not be able to find an alternative intensive use. The land might be sold only as ordinary arable land, which would yield much less profit, so the capital value would be much lower. The Minister's response is unsatisfactory.

Mr. Morley

The strawberry farm is an example of a relatively small area of land being used intensively and profitably. However, each fur farmer will have different circumstances and different issues to raise, and that is why there can be no catch-all measure at this stage. Therefore, it is right and proper that the Bill should be an enabling measure so that such matters can be taken into account during the consultation.

I can also confirm to the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst that the Lands Tribunal will be a process of appeal, and there will be the option of arbitration before the Lands Tribunal, which again is a new measure. We accept that the process will give rise to certain costs, such as the demolition of buildings, which fur farmers may legitimately argue should be covered by the compensation scheme, and we shall give sympathetic consideration to that.

The consultation process has already started and we are trying to make progress. As soon as the Bill receives Royal Assent, independent assessors will talk to fur farmers. We expect to be able to consult the industry in the spring on the detail of the compensation scheme following the examination of their books. That will take between eight and nine months and preparation will be able to proceed even during the statutory two-month period after Royal Assent. I understand that the fur farmers want to make progress and we shall do all that we can to ensure that.

I was surprised by the comments of the right hon. and learned Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham in relation to head deboners that matters might have been different had human rights legislation existed at that time which required him to give compensation. He could have given that compensation had he chosen to do so, but he chose not to. Following discussion on the Bill proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Garston, I made it clear that the Government would include a provision for compensation for income lost. I was under no obligation to do so at the time, but I endeavoured to put in place a fair compensation scheme in consultation with my hon. Friend and the National Farmers Union. As it happens, it was felt in the other place that that provision should be firmer and that there should be a requirement to compensate for income. That is what the amendments tabled there seek to achieve. We do not oppose them and recommend their acceptance.

Amendments (a) and (b) to Lords amendment No. 2 would not have the effect that I suspect was intended by the right hon. and learned Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham. As he spelled out, they would remove the Minister's discretion to be selective in determining the businesses that are eligible for compensation through their closure under the Bill. Furthermore, they would require the Minister to compensate all businesses that carry out the banned activities. We have already said that we intend to provide a compensation scheme that is fair and reasonable to the businesses that close because of the Bill, following either Royal Assent or the effecting of a commencement order not before 1 January.

Amendment (b) would require the Government to provide compensation to all businesses carrying out the banned activities. However, the Government have announced that only fur farming businesses that existed on 2 March 1999 will be eligible to claim compensation. On 30 November 1999, fur farmers were reminded in writing of that cut-off, which was announced when my hon. Friend the Member for Garston presented her private Member's Bill. It was stated that any fur farm established after the cut-off date or which closed down before Royal Assent would not be eligible for compensation. The Government must, therefore, have discretion to limit, in the way that I have described, the businesses eligible for compensation. Amendment (b) would remove that discretion and, if accepted, could mean that fur farms that were abandoned years ago and are standing empty could be opened up and so be eligible for compensation.

Mr. Hogg

I am not sure that the Parliamentary Secretary is right. If he reads the amendment, he will see that only those who were rendered illegal and caught by the prohibition would attract compensation. However, that is not my main point. Why does the Bill contain the explicit statement that compensation need not be paid in respect of all income losses and non-income losses, or, indeed, in respect of all businesses? The Parliamentary Secretary has released himself from any obligation.

Mr. Morley

It is important to allow some discretion in the application of the provision, especially with regard to businesses that are in operation after the cut-off date. That is the primary reason for the wording of the provision; it is also why I cannot agree to proposed amendments (a) and (b) to Lords amendment No. 2. I am sure that hon. Members would not want those amendments to take effect, as they would not safeguard public funds. We do not intend people who are involved in fur farming after the cut-off date to receive compensation.

Mr. Gummer

Will the Parliamentary Secretary repeat his remarks? I suspect that hon. Members have not followed them. Is he saying that the only reason why he does not tie himself to providing compensation in all circumstances is that he might have to provide it for people whose businesses opened after the due date? If that is the case, why is not his intention made clear in the Bill? Will he now express it clearly so that fur farmers know that they have entitlement in all circumstances and in relation to all businesses and all other activities related to the Bill, the only possible obstruction being the wrong dates?

Mr. Morley

The right hon. Gentleman's comments show why the wording is as it is. He used the phrase "all other businesses", but, as a former Minister, he will understand the need for Bills to be properly worded. A fur farmer could own a business that is not directly connected with fur farming, and, unless the provision is worded properly, a claim could be made for that business. The wording is intended to ensure that compensation is geared to fur farming and to business that is directly involved with it. It should not involve unrelated businesses or those that started after the cut-off date.

It has been disappointing to see in some quarters a right-wing opinion suggesting that we cannot take an ethical view on the treatment of animals. Ethics seem to be a bit different with regard to matters such as the age of consent. I make no apology for taking an ethical view on behalf of the Government on the way in which we treat animals. Significant welfare concerns have been expressed about the rearing of animals in fur farming systems. For example, mink are semi-aquatic animals and are used to wandering over large ranges and having access to water, so they should not be kept in barren wire cages. We know of examples in which mink have gnawed off their tails because of the frustration of being kept in such conditions.

Mr. Hogg

What about chickens?

Mr. Morley

As the right hon. and learned Gentleman suggests, such issues arise also with regard to other intensive rearing systems, which is why they are all being examined. However, the issue of fur farming goes beyond welfare. I doubt whether some of the anxieties that have been expressed about welfare could be addressed in a commercial fur farming system.

We are introducing the Bill because fur farming is a moral issue; opposition to such farming is based on morality. The fur farming industry does not provide for basic needs and does not justify the killing of an animal. In a modern society, fur farming has no justification in terms of need. There are alternatives to this form of farming, which is not justifiable. For those reasons, I hope that hon. Members will not support the amendments tabled by the right hon. and learned Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham and that they will give the Bill the support that it deserves.

Lords amendment agreed to.

Lords amendment: No. 2, in page 3, line 20, leave out from ("scheme") to ("of') in line 22 and insert

("shall, in particular, specify—

  1. (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
  2. (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")

Amendment proposed to the Lords amendment: (b), in line 8, leave out "but need not" and insert "and shall".—[Mr. Hogg.]

Question put, That the amendment to the Lords amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 27, Noes 303.

Division No. 351] [6.58 pm
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Gray, James
Beggs, Roy Grieve, Dominic
Bercow, John Gummer, Rt Hon John
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W) Hunter, Andrew
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Leigh, Edward
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
(Rushcliffe) Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Curry, Rt Hon David McIntosh, Miss Anne
Gale, Roger MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Gill, Christopher Maclean, Rt Hon David
Moss, Malcolm Whittingdale, John
Robathan, Andrew Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Robertson, Laurence
Swayne, Desmond Tellers for the Ayes:
Taylor, John M (Solihull) Mr. Douglas Hogg and
Tyrie, Andrew Mr. Eric Forth.
Abbott, Ms Diane Cohen, Harry
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N) Coleman, Iain
Ainger, Nick Cooper, Yvette
Alexander, Douglas Corbyn, Jeremy
Allen, Graham Corston, Jean
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Cousins, Jim
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary Cox, Tom
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Crausby, David
Ashton, Joe Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Atherton, Ms Candy Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Atkins, Charlotte Cummings, John
Baker, Norman Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Ballard, Jackie Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Banks, Tony Darvill, Keith
Barnes, Harry Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Barron, Kevin Davidson, Ian
Bayley, Hugh Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Begg, Miss Anne Denham, John
Beith, Rt Hon A J Dismore, Andrew
Bell, Martin (Tatton) Donohoe, Brian H
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough) Doran, Frank
Bennett, Andrew F Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Benton, Joe Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Berminghan, Gerald Edwards, Huw
Best, Harold Efford, Clive
Betts, Clive Ennis, Jeff
Blackman, Liz Etherington, Bill
Blizzard, Bob Field, Rt Hon Frank
Bradley, Keith (Withington) Flint, Caroline
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin) Flynn, Paul
Bradshaw, Ben Follett, Barbara
Barand, Dr Peter Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Brinton, Mrs Helen Foster, Don (Bath)
Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E) Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries) Foulkes, George
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Galloway, George
Buck, Ms Karen Gardiner, Barry
Burden, Richard George, Andrew (St Ives)
Burgon, Colin George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Burstow, Paul Gerrard, Neil
Butler, Mrs Christine Gibson, Dr Ian
Byers, Rt Hon Stephen Gidley, Sandra
Cable, Dr Vincent Godman, Dr Norman A
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth) Godsiff, Roger
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies Goggins, Paul
(NE Fife) Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Campbell-Savours, Dale Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Cann, Jamie Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Caplin, Ivor Grocott, Bruce
Casale, Roger Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Caton, Martin Hancock, Mike
Cawsey, Ian Hanson, David
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S) Harvey, Nick
Chaytor, David Healey, John
Chidgey, David Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Clapham, Michael Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Clark, Dr Lynda Hepburn, Stephen
(Edinburgh Pentlands) Heppell, John
Clark, Paul (Gillingham) Hesford, Stephen
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian) Hewitt, Ms Patricia
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge) Hill, Keith
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S) Hinchliffe, David
Clelland, David Hood, Jimmy
Clwyd, Ann Hope, Phil
Coaker, Vernon Hopkins, Kelvin
Coffey, Ms Ann Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N) Mudie, George
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N) Mullin, Chris
Hurst, Alan Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Hutton, John Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
Iddon, Dr Brian Naysmith, Dr Doug
Illsley, Eric Norris, Dan
Jackson, Ms Glenda(Hampstead) Oaten, Mark
Jackson, Helen(Hillsborough) O'Brien, Bill(Normanton)
Jamieson, David O'Brien, Mike(N Warks)
Jenkins, Brian Olner, Bill
Johnson, Alan(Hull W & Hessle) Organ, Mrs Diana
Johnson, Miss Melanie Pearson, Ian
(Welwyn Hatfield) Pickthall, Colin
Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn) Pike, Peter L
Jones, Ms Jenny Plaskitt, James
(Wolverh'ton SW) Pollard, Kerry
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C) Pond, Chris
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak) Pope, Greg
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S) Pound, Stephen
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham) Powell, Sir Raymond
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Keeble, Ms Sally Primarolo, Dawn
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston) Prosser, Gwyn
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth) Purchase, Ken
Keetch, Paul Radice, Rt Hon Giles
Kemp, Fraser Raynsford, Nick
Kennedy, Rt Hon Charles Reid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N)
(Ross Skye & Inverness W) Rendel, David
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree) Roche, Mrs Barbara
Khabra, Piara S Rogers, Allan
Kidney, David Rooker, Rt Hon Jeff
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth) Rooney, Terry
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green) Rowlands, Ted
Kingham, Ms Tess Ruane, Chris
Kumar, Dr Ashok Ruddock, Joan
Ladyman, Dr Stephen Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Lammy, David Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie Salter, Martin
Lepper, David Sanders, Adrian
Lislie, Christopher Sawford, Phil
Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen Sedgemore, Brian
Livsey, Richard Shaw, Jonathan
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C) Sheerman, Barry
Llwyd, Elfyn Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Lock, David Shipley, Ms Debra
Love, Andrew Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
McAvoy, Thomas Skinner, Dennis
McCafferty, Ms Chris Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Macdonald, Calum Smith, Angela (Basildon)
McDonell, John Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Mackinlay, Andrew Smith, John (Glamorgan)
McNamara, Kevin Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
McNulty, Tony Soley, Clive
Macshane, Denis Squire, Ms Rachel
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Mahon, Mrs Alice Steinberg, Gerry
Mallaber, Judy Stevenson, George
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S) Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Martlew, Eric Stoate, Dr Howard
Maxton, John Stringer, Graham
Meale, Alan Stuart, Ms Gisela
Merron, Gillian Stunell, Andrew
Michael, Rt Hon Alun Sutcliffe, Gerry
Michie, Bill (Shefld Heeley) Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute) (Dewsbury)
Mitchell, Austin Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Moffatt, Laura Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Moore, Michael Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Moran, Ms Margaret Temple-Morris, Peter
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N) Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Morley, Elliot Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Morris, Rt Hon Ms Estelle Thomas, Gareth R (Ceredigion)
(B'ham Yardley) Timms, Stephen
Mountford, Kali
Tipping, Paddy Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Touhig, Don (Swansea W)
Trickett, Jon Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Truswell, Paul Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown) Winnick, David
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk) Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Twigg, Derek (Halton) Woodward, Shaun
Tyler, Paul Worthington, Tony
Vis, Dr Rudi Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Ward, Ms Claire Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Wareing, Robert N Wyatt, Derek
Webb, Steve Tellers for the Noes:
Welsh, Andrew Mr. Mike Hall and
White, Brian Mr. Jim Dowd.

Question accordingly negatived.

Lords amendment No. 2 agreed to [Special Entry].

Lords amendments Nos. 3 to 5 agreed to [one with Special Entry].

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