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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:45 pm on 8th January 2019.

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Photo of Lord Adonis Lord Adonis Labour 5:45 pm, 8th January 2019

My Lords, the longer the noble Lords, Lord Leigh and Lord Hodgson, spoke, the more concerned I became about their intentions in relation to the powers proposed in the Bill.

I fully accept the noble Lords’ perfectly reasonable intentions. We can have a debate on the right hygiene bar for the regulation of financial institutions—if Britain leaves the European Union, it will be a debate. The Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, opened it last week in his speech in Singapore, when he set out a vision of Britain being Singapore-on-sea, with a light-touch regulatory regime, offshore from Europe, ready to start competing—as I took it—on a lower bar. It perhaps will not be as low as the hygiene level mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, that starts to discredit us as a reputable financial centre, but he clearly wants it to be lower—he is a Tory, and generally speaking this is what Tories want. There is no great secret around what it is that the noble Lords, Lord Leigh and Lord Hodgson, want.

The crucial issue, however, is how the noble Lords’ intentions relate to the capacity of the Government, under this Bill, to effectively legislate by decree. If the Government want to make big changes in our regulatory regime, they should be debated openly and fully in this House and in the House of Commons. Indeed, if they are substantial departures from existing practice, the more difficult it will be to deliver paragraph (b) in the amendment, which states that,

“financial services regulations do not impose a disproportionate burden on small listed companies”.

That is all the more reason why they should go through the full and proper legislative procedures of this House: Second Reading, Committee, Report and Third Reading. That way, we can debate whether the hygiene level of the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, is satisfactory. They make no argument whatever for giving the Government the power to rule by decree.