Banking Bill — Committee (4th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:45 pm on 20th January 2009.

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Photo of Lord Davies of Oldham Lord Davies of Oldham Deputy Chief Whip (House of Lords), HM Household, Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard (HM Household) (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Lords) 5:45 pm, 20th January 2009

As the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, was frank enough to confess to us, we have gone slightly wider than the amendments and on to the validity of Clause 75. I am obliged to reiterate the obvious point that there is bound to be some conflict between the public interest objectives of resolving the difficulties of a bank in severe financial distress on the one hand, and the provisions of legislation that are designed to work in relation to a normally functioning business on the other.

Clause 75 is linked to the special provisions of the regime, and reflects the fact that the authorities are acting in the difficult circumstances of a failing bank. We are not looking for general retrospective powers; we are seeking only to facilitate the use of one of the stabilisation options. The scope of the powers might be severely constrained unless we had the ability to ensure that the action taken under those provisions had some paramountcy. That is why the clause is drafted in the way that it is.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Lyell of Markyate, asked me a specific question, but, in more general terms, where an entirely new regime is introduced in an area which is already populated by a complex and interrelated body of primary and secondary legislation and common law, new laws may come which contain powers that are not dissimilar to those under Clause 75. For example, the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 and Section 148 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 reflect the fact that the legislation coming in is bound to affect in direct terms already existing legislation. All we are seeking with regard to this clause is exactly that position. There is not a great deal of retrospective quality to it, although it contains a retrospective element. But the necessity of the authorities to be able to act—