Clause 11 - Proposals for resolving the matter of relief from payment

Commercial Rent (Coronavirus) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 12:15 pm 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 requires the party making a reference to arbitration to include with that reference a formal proposal and supporting evidence. The other party may respond with their own proposal, accompanied by supporting evidence, within 14 days of receiving the applicant’s. The process therefore gives each party the opportunity to review the other’s proposals. The parties then have 28 days from their initial formal proposal to submit a revised proposal accompanied by further supporting evidence—or longer if both parties or the arbitrator agree to allow more time, giving each party time to reflect and respond. That is important, because it facilitates the possibility of a settlement occurring early on in the arbitration process once a reference to arbitration is made. It supports our aim of giving businesses certainty as soon as possible. I commend the clause to the Committee.

Photo of Ruth Cadbury Ruth Cadbury Shadow Minister (International Trade)

I thank the Minister. Again, we do not intend to amend or oppose the clause at this point. We support the proposals for resolving the matter of relief, because, as the Minister has said, it allows tenants and landlords to reach an agreement. We know from stakeholder feedback that this process is welcomed by businesses. It will provide relief, especially because of the block on any court action that it provides. We also welcome it because it allows both parties to make proposals to tackle debt relief. Equally, we want to make sure that there is a level playing field in the arbitration process. We do not want larger companies to be able to muscle through the arbitration process because they have greater levels of resources—both financial and in levels of expertise and so on.

Although we welcome the fact that the process can be extended with agreement, there is an equal chance that, if the process extends and extends even further, it could act as an extra burden on smaller businesses. That is why we hope the Government will look into the accessibility and ease with which small businesses, in particular, can engage in the arbitration process.

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

We will continue to work with the arbitration services that have expertise in this area, especially as the measure is based on systems specifically targeted at smaller businesses and smaller disputes.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 11 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.