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Part of Bank of England and Financial Services Bill [HL] – in the House of Lords at 4:45 pm on 15th December 2015.

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Photo of Lord Higgins Lord Higgins Conservative 4:45 pm, 15th December 2015

My Lords, it was clear in the earlier stages of the Bill that there was significant conflict between on the one hand the NAO, feeling that its independence had been jeopardised, and on the other the Bank of the England, wishing for greater independence than is enjoyed by other bodies being investigated by the NAO. Clearly a great deal of work has been done behind the scenes and all those concerned are to be congratulated on coming up with a compromise which ought to be satisfactory from both points of view.

I have just two points which I would be grateful if the Minister could clarify. First, is the memorandum of understanding referred to in Amendment 9 going to be published? That would be an advantage. Secondly, in relation to proposed new subsection (2)(d), I am not absolutely clear what happens if in fact there is a dispute which “cannot be resolved”. I am not clear on precisely how the matter would then be resolved.

There is one other point which is not absolutely clear. The NAO was very concerned that it would not be able to publish information it obtains, something which previously has been at the discretion of the NAO. Is that point going to be resolved?

Perhaps I may raise one final point. Under government Amendment 7, a number of things are now specifically mentioned as being things that the examination will not be concerned with. I shall take a specific example; namely, the issue of quantitative easing and how that is being implemented. Will the NAO be able to look into whether it regards the way in which that is being dealt with as satisfactory? But, overall, this is a very satisfactory outcome from what was an extremely difficult and perhaps rather tense situation.