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Business Tenancies (Northern Ireland) Order 1996

Volume 569: debated on Thursday 22 February 1996

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7.26 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office
(Baroness Denton of Wakefield)

rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 15th January be approved.

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this order implements the recommendations contained in the report of the Law Reform Advisory Committee for Northern Ireland on Business Tenancies, published in June 1994. The Business Tenancies (Northern Ireland) Act 1964 governs the law relating to business tenancies in Northern Ireland and gives the tenant of business premises basic rights; namely, the right to security of tenure and the right to compensation. The committee, following its review and after extensive consultation with interested parties in Northern Ireland, concluded that the 1964 Act on the whole achieved a fair balance between the competing interests of landlord and tenant. The committee recommended that the basic principles of the Act should remain, but that its procedures should be streamlined to promote legal certainty and simplicity.

The Government accepted the recommendations of the advisory committee generally, and the order contains its core recommendations. This is a technical piece of legislation, but it is important. I beg to move.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 15th January he approved.—( Baroness Denton of Wakefield.)

My Lords, once again I am grateful to the Minister for introducing this order, which we support. I commend the Law Reform Advisory Committee for its work. I believe that it is still chaired by Lord Justice Carswell so the quality of the work is no surprise. I believe also that it was set up in the almost forgotten but happy days of a Labour administration, which is another cause for sel f-congratulation.

On a more sober note, no one has worked harder than the Minister in the cause of the improvement of business, inward investment and the development of employment opportunities. This order will have a part to play in that picture at a time when there are so many difficulties which threaten the very useful and fruitful work that the Minister has done over these past months and years. We support this order.

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Williams, for his support for the order. I would expect it to come with commendation, given its source. We appreciate the work of the committee. I also thank the noble Lord for his concern for Northern Ireland at this time. It is heartbreaking to see the views and prayers of Northern Ireland for peace ignored so outrageously.

I should like to place on the record that we are cheered by how much was achieved in the 17 months of the ceasefire. There are foundations which a break in the ceasefire will not take away. People who would have crossed the street to avoid one another now work together in community and business. Business leaders have emerged to lead in the commercial world. We have always maintained shareholder value, and it remains. The strength of the local firms and their export record will help us. In Northern Ireland, if the effort amounted to 110 per cent. previously, it is now 140 per cent. We shall continue to simplify legislation. I thank the noble Lord for his support. I commend the order to the House.

On Question, Motion agreed to.