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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:45 pm on 8th January 2019.

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Photo of Lord Tunnicliffe Lord Tunnicliffe Opposition Deputy Chief Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Defence), Shadow Spokesperson (Treasury), Shadow Minister (Transport) 4:45 pm, 8th January 2019

My Lords, I think the two groups of amendments in many ways cover the same issue. They are essentially about how much flexibility the Executive should have in using this new law. Taking noble Lords back to the creation of the withdrawal Act, it was an extremely painful process because we were naturally reluctant to give the extensive powers in the withdrawal Act to government. But we were in a sense battered into the very realistic understanding that, given the volume of work that had to be done, the only way to do it was through statutory instruments enabled by the withdrawal Act.

In achieving that, we put together some quite some quite tight constraints on what government could do. I have to commend the Treasury on obeying them. Although we have long debates, I have to say that my speeches are getting shorter. The key test in those debates is whether the Government have obeyed the constraint of not introducing new policy in the instruments and have made only those changes that are necessary for the laws to work or to smooth their transfer. We are very reluctant to move beyond that position.

We have a couple of amendments in this group, but the key one is Amendment 6—the noble Baroness has admitted that she is not quite sure that it would do what she wants. There has been some discussion about the possible need for more flexibility, especially in respect of files which are barely open, never mind those which are closed. We will listen to that debate, but can I get across to the Government Front Bench the simple facts of life? On Report, there will be change to constrain the freedom of the Executive. I encourage the Government to think about that and open discussions, because, no matter how hard we work ourselves or in concert with the Liberal Democrats and other interested parties to provide the perfect amendments to achieve that—I am pleased to hear so much praise for Amendment 7 because I drafted it—we all know that the Government will do a better technical job at the end of the day. They will get the right cross-referencing, the right language and so on. I encourage the Government to think long and hard before they try to batter through the Bill as it is. Otherwise, amendments will undoubtedly come forward and there is a high probability that they will be passed. It would be much better to have a negotiated solution.

Frankly, we have managed this painful transition pretty well, especially given what a hopeless task it is, as was brought out by my noble friend Lord Adonis. Every speech starts by citing the relevant paragraphs of the Explanatory Memorandum. Precisely the same thing is reproduced in every one; namely, “This is only for no deal and there is going to be a deal”. Fearing as we do a no-deal situation, we will tighten these things up and government should meet us and provide an appropriate forum for getting the right balance. That may involve a little flexibility, as is suggested in Amendment 6.