Electronic Money, Payment Services and Payment Systems (Amendment and Transitional Provisions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018 - Motions to Approve

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:45 pm on 6th November 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Tunnicliffe Lord Tunnicliffe Opposition Deputy Chief Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Defence), Shadow Spokesperson (Treasury), Shadow Minister (Transport) 3:45 pm, 6th November 2018

My Lords, I thank the Minister for introducing these SIs. They are two of the 70 that we have to deal with and it is a rare privilege to do so in such a crowded Chamber. Normally, the noble Lord, Lord Bates, and I are allowed the privacy of the Moses Room along with one representative from the Liberal Democrats and no others. During debate on an earlier SI, I talked about the value of these meetings, because at the end of the day the Minister knows, as do I, that we will not oppose these statutory instruments. However, I made the point that they create a record that might help the people who use the regulations to understand them. However, so far this SI presents the biggest challenge when it comes to understanding, and my further comments might reveal that I have totally failed to understand it. I look forward to the tutorial in the Minister’s response.

My understanding is that the sorts of things we are talking about are BACS, CHAPS, LINK, the NICC, Mastercard and Visa Europe. I understand that these are regulated in the United Kingdom by the Payment Systems Regulator, which works to a set of standards, directives or frameworks that are the UK manifestation of EU directives and so on. Therefore, my first question is: who will set the standards after exit day? I think that the Minister said that it would be the FCA, but does that mean that effectively, wherever there is a reference to the EU, this SI takes it out and puts in the FCA?

Then we have the complication of who sets the standards for EU firms trading in the UK. Once again, I assume that that is a passporting issue that will die on exit day if we have no alternative agreement. Therefore, what does the instrument do for EU firms after exit day? The Minister says there is a temporary regime, but could he perhaps expand a little on what it does? As I understand it, the temporary regime is time-limited, so what happens at the end of the temporary period? I did not get the sense—as the noble Baroness, Lady Kramer, did—that it was extendable.

Turning now to SEPA, it seems that the Government’s aspiration is to retain membership of it, even if there is no deal, but this is slightly different from the pure no-deal situation, in the sense that it will require international agreements between the UK and other SEPA members. Could the Minister expand a little on how the SI facilitates such agreement? More importantly, could he explain the consequence of no agreement? It is, presumably, theoretically possible that we will not be able to achieve a third-country—or whatever the right term is—membership of SEPA. What will that mean, in practical terms, to UK citizens in their day-to-day lives and their desire to use various means of transport in EU countries?

I turn now to what I loosely call the big picture. If we get a Brexit deal, as I understand it, we do not need these SIs. They are essentially no-deal SIs, but I cannot see in them how they are revoked. Are there articles deep in these pages that allow the SIs to be revoked? The commencement paragraph actually specifies the time when they become active. I will now make my standard moan on these occasions: that there is no impact assessment. The value of impact assessments, quite apart from the actual numbers, is that they usually speak in fairly plain language about who is affected and the level of impact on those institutions. Can we try to ensure that the promised impact assessments for these SIs are available before we debate the instruments themselves?

Because I could not understand the SI in any depth, I worry if it really is just about translating three or four simple ideas into fact. I notice that it is 24 pages long. It strikes me that it is like a bit of computer software, with lots of lines. As we all know from our experience with Microsoft, every now and then it does not get it right. What systems do the Government have to assure themselves that these SIs actually work? While they seek to introduce a number of relatively straightforward ideas—I hope they are; I hope not to be told that I have none of it right—they take an awful lot of articles to do that. Is there a checking mechanism to make sure they work? They are going to have to work at a moment in time. If they do not, the chaos could be frightful.

I repeat my request, to which I have not yet had an answer from the last set of SIs, that those of us involved—I am sure my Liberal colleagues would agree—have a fully updated and amended copy of the Financial Service and Markets Act 2000. We are often told to go to commercial copies of these things. There is a commercial organisation—called Westlaw, I think—and I looked up the Financial Services and Markets Act in its system. Because it records every change since the year 2000, the document is 1,569 pages long. I put it to the Minister that that is not user friendly.

Finally, I echo the welcome for this SI from the noble Baroness, Lady Kramer—