Financial Services (Implementation of Legislation) Bill [HL] - Committee (1st Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:00 pm on 8th January 2019.

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Photo of Lord Adonis Lord Adonis Labour 4:00 pm, 8th January 2019

My Lords, the sunset clause is for two years, which is nearly half a Parliament. The fact that there is a sunset clause does not somehow legitimise everything that takes place in that period. There is no case for these provisions at all. Let us be clear that we are talking about further changes to the existing law; these are the provisions that are causing such difficulty for many of us in the House. We are prepared to grant the Minister powers to simply transpose existing provisions into UK law—indeed, I am not even sure that under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act he needs legal powers for that. The key issue here is that it all concerns further changes to the law. The statute book constantly needs to be capable of being updated; the whole purpose of Parliament is to debate further changes to the law, and we have established procedures which go back to time immemorial for doing that. They involve Second Reading, Committee, Report and Third Reading stages in both Houses of Parliament.

There is no reason whatever for subverting those principles simply because the Government are overloaded, which is essentially the argument at the moment. The answer is either not to make those changes in law, if effectively they can be made only by exercising powers by decree, or to create the necessary time to do so, which means the Government having the right priorities in what they put before Parliament. We always have to set priorities. As a former Minister, I know that what you do and do not put in the Queen’s Speech and the legislative programme is a matter of priorities. If necessary, the House must sit for longer.

Finally, if it comes down to whether this House should sit somewhat longer to debate major changes to the law of the land on financial services, I for one feel that it is our duty to sit here, debate these changes and not give the Government the power to legislate by decree. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, feels the same because he has been responsible for financial services regulation in the past. That is effectively the power being granted here, potentially in significant areas that are not to do with simply transposing existing or in-flight European law into UK law. I am sorry to say this to the Minister, but the objections to the Bill are fundamental, not incremental. He may well find that, unless he can meet those objections, substantial parts of the Bill will be removed by the House on Report.