Financial Services (Banking Reform) Bill — Report (1st Day) (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:45 pm on 26th November 2013.

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Photo of Lord Eatwell Lord Eatwell Shadow Spokesperson (Treasury) 8:45 pm, 26th November 2013

My Lords, having listened to my noble friend Lord Brennan and the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, I found this discussion quite disturbing. The creation of a criminal offence is one aspect of the Bill that pushes forward the regulatory regime in the UK and creates an environment more suited to the somewhat cavalier nature of finance in a global marketplace—in particular by identifying those activities that have inflicted enormous harm upon our fellow citizens. What I heard was that, as drafted, the probability of securing a conviction or even a prosecution, as the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, put it, is vanishingly small. Unless the terminology is clarified in a way laid out so clearly by my noble friend, this part of the Bill will simply bring that aspect of regulation into disrepute because it will be worthless. That is why I regard the remarks that I have heard from the two distinguished lawyers who have just spoken to be very disturbing. It is incumbent upon the Government not simply to produce a pat answer here this evening but again to produce a carefully written assessment of the case for an appropriate criminal regime and its implementation in order that the whole House has an opportunity to assess this important aspect prior to Third Reading.