Report (1st Day)

Part of Banking Bill – in the House of Lords at 5:14 pm on 2nd February 2009.

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Photo of Lord Howard of Rising Lord Howard of Rising Shadow Minister, Culture, Media & Sport, Shadow Minister, Cabinet Office, Shadow Minister, Treasury 5:14 pm, 2nd February 2009

My Lords, this amendment is simple. It states that if the code is not followed, there should be an explanation of why it has not been followed. Her Majesty's Government strongly argued that the code should not be legally binding. While I do not agree with that argument, it is just understandable that the Government should seek to keep all their options open in exceptional circumstances. However, if they believe that they must be able to ignore the code in order to achieve the flexibility they deem necessary to cope with the banking crisis, the least they should do is give a full and prompt explanation of why they have ignored the code. If they do not have to do even that, it is difficult to see the point of the code.

In Committee, the Minister said:

"We are at one with the amendment".—[Hansard, 13/1/09; col. 1177.]

However, he went on to say that the Government do not wish to be bound by legal rigidity. This amendment does not impose a legal obligation to follow the code, but asks for an explanation for deviating from the code. Given the Government's keenness on transparency, I am sure the Minister will wish to accept the amendment. Indeed, I will go one further and say that it would be suspicious if he did not wish to give reasons for ignoring the code.