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The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill is wide-ranging in its scope, containing measures to improve access to finance for small businesses and reduce regulatory requirements; open up public sector procurement further; introduce a pubs code and adjudicator; enhance transparency in company ownership; strengthen rules for disqualification of directors; reform insolvency laws; and introduce a number of reforms to employment law, including banning exclusivity in zero-hours contracts.

The Bill received broad support from MPs during its passage through the House of Commons. A number of its provisions, particularly those relating to pubs, the national minimum wage and zero-hours contracts, have proven more contentious. Amendments and new clauses were tabled to each part of the Bill and were debated at public bill committee and report stage. Amendments were agreed to. The most noteworthy of these changes followed a government defeat at report stage on Government proposals to introduce a pubs code. A cross-party amendment, which sought to include a ‘market rent only’ option for tied pub tenants, was added to the Bill following a division, in which MPs voted 284 to 259 to accept the amendment.

This Library Note provides background reading ahead of the Bill’s second reading in the House of Lords on 2 December 2014. The Bill was formally announced in the Queen’s Speech in June 2014. Reactions to the announcement are provided in section 1 of the Note. Section 2 provides an overview of the measures found in the Bill. The remainder of the Note summarises the Bill’s passage through the House of Commons: section 3 provides a selection of the contributions made by MPs at second reading and section 4 highlights how the Bill was amended at public bill committee stage. The key debates and divisions held on the Bill at report stage are summarised in section 5. The Note concludes with a short summary of the debate held at third reading.


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