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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:30 pm on 8th January 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Bates Lord Bates The Minister of State, Department for International Development 5:30 pm, 8th January 2019

To go back to first principles, I am saying that the power in this Bill is not in effect to make policy—rather, it is the ability to produce secondary legislation that has a policy content to it and which would then be subject to scrutiny in this House. That power is being put in place for an extraordinary set of circumstances—I think we all agree that these are extraordinary circumstances and in fact I should underscore that we hope that these powers will not be required to be acted upon, because there will be a deal and we will continue to have access to the market in financial services across the EU. That is our aim, but we are preparing for all eventualities.

The noble Baroness will be aware that equivalence determinations are autonomous decisions with the EU and, in turn, the UK retaining autonomy for determining if a foreign jurisdiction has equivalent standards and supervision. The EU takes a varied approach to assessments of equivalence, tailoring its approach to individual regimes with regard to how the assessment is conducted. The Commission itself has stated:

“It is the equivalence of regulatory and supervisory results that is being assessed, not a word-for-word sameness of legal texts”.

Indeed, for a recent example, one need only to look at the EU’s statements on equivalence in a no-deal scenario. Within these, the EU has been clear that equivalence decisions of the UK will be made where justified in the interest of the Union and its member states, with time limits and conditions to their decisions where appropriate. As such, it is very difficult to judge what the EU will take into account in its future assessments and how its autonomous third country regime will evolve. Such an approach, plus the breadth and variety of considerations that form part of equivalence determinations, from the rules themselves to supervisory approaches, means that it would be very difficult to determine what effect, if any, a change or adjustment that the UK makes to our laws might have on a future equivalence determination in a given area, given that these are autonomous decisions taken by the EU. It is therefore difficult to see how the test set out in this amendment could be met.

Let me reiterate the importance of, in the case of a no-deal situation, retaining the ability to adjust our legislation so that it best serves the aims and objectives of the UK once we have left the EU, as my noble friend Lord Flight has identified. It is crucial to ensure that we can bring into force pieces of legislation in a way that works best for the interests of UK markets. The Government are also committed to doing this as transparently as possible, which is why we have set out the strict reporting requirements to which I know we will return on Report. In the light of that, I invite the noble Baroness to withdraw her amendment.