Clause 6 - “The matter of relief from payment”

Commercial Rent (Coronavirus) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 11:45 am ar 9 Rhagfyr 2021.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Paul Scully Paul Scully Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Minister of State (London)

The clause sets out the two questions that the arbitrator must decide before considering what, if any, relief should be given to the tenant. That is important because it ensures that arbitration capacity and relief are targeted at those who need it most, namely those whose rent has been impacted by closures and restrictions within the ring-fenced period. The first question is whether there is any protected rent debt. The second is whether the tenant should be given any relief in respect of the payment of that debt and, if so, what type of relief.

The clause also sets out clearly the types of relief that an arbitrator can award in respect of protected rent debt: writing off part of or all of the debt; giving more time to repay the debt; or reducing or writing off any interest on the debt. Setting those clear boundaries will help arbitrators to reach awards quickly and provide adversely impacted businesses with the certainty they need to recover from the pandemic.

Photo of Seema Malhotra Seema Malhotra Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

I thank the Minister for his opening remarks. Clause 6 clarifies references to the matter of relief from payment—that is, the subject to be dealt with by an arbitrator under the legislation. It relates to whether there is protected rent debt and, if so, whether the tenant should be given relief from the payment of that debt. The Minister has outlined what that means but, to summarise again, it is the writing off of the whole or part of the debt, giving time to pay the whole or part of the debt, and reducing any interest payable on the debt. It is right that arbitrators are given the flexibility to provide for a form of relief that is appropriate for the specific circumstances of a case. Indeed, one or more forms of the relief may be appropriate depending on the circumstances of the landlord and the tenant. We support these measures and clause 6 standing part of the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 6 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.