Economy

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:38 pm on 3rd November 2008.

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Photo of Lord Forsyth of Drumlean Lord Forsyth of Drumlean Conservative 5:38 pm, 3rd November 2008

My Lords, I say to the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, that it is possible for regulation to be onerous and useless, and that is what we have experienced to date. I am delighted that we have the opportunity to have this debate. However, it is a great failure of Parliament that the House of Commons has not had such a debate. I thought that Parliament was about controlling supply. I thought that Parliament was about holding the Executive to account for the resources they spend. Here we have a Government committing £500 billion—is that right?—of taxpayers' resources and there has not been a debate in the other place, which is so jealous of us discussing means of supply and taxation.

I welcome the Minister to his new role, and I am in no way criticising him, because he is new to his role. But what on earth is going on in his department when it sends him here with a speech that does not actually deal with how that £500 billion is being spent, or its conditions? Instead, we had a somewhat biased view of what the former Government did, what the rest of the world is doing and what is happening on the international stage. I want to know what is being done with that £500 billion of our money. If I may, I shall ask some specific questions.

First, I very much welcomed the Minister's promise to this House that there would be a full inquiry into all of this, including the conduct of the Government, the banks and the regulators. We need to know about that so that we can learn from that experience. I want to take up the Minister on the point that the persistent leaks from the Government are a matter for inquiry by the FSA. I shall not name the person, but I spoke to a non-executive of a financial institution, who told me that he could find out better what was going on from reading Robert Peston's blog on the BBC website than from what he was being told by the Treasury. I see the noble Lord, Lord Peston, nodding in agreement, and I make no criticism of his offspring, who shares his undoubted abilities.