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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:00 pm on 8th January 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Baroness Bowles of Berkhamsted Baroness Bowles of Berkhamsted Liberal Democrat 6:00 pm, 8th January 2019

My Lords, a couple of interesting points have been made in the context of this amendment. As it reads, it looks reasonably acceptable as we do not want gold-plating, which could potentially happen. I echo that the Commission has been particularly good at dealing with smaller companies and businesses. My experience is that that has not always been reflected in the UK when the dispensations have been a matter for the member state. On more than one occasion, I have written to regulators and others about that.

One of the points was about asymmetric effects and the fact that when we are no longer a member state the law will bear down on us when we replicate it, or nearly replicate it, in a different way from when we were a member state. It is not only in financial services legislation that this could potentially happen. It happens with contractual obligations. When we replicate Rome I and Rome II, if the other party is in, say, New York, the penalty for breach of contract will be different in the UK from what it would be in France because we no longer tick the member state box. It essentially means that the higher New York penalty will apply rather than it being limited.

I sit on one of the secondary legislation scrutiny committees, and there have been various occasions when asymmetries have come up. There have sometimes been attempts to balance them, but sometimes not. It depends. These judgments about asymmetries already appear to be going on under the withdrawal Act. From the ones that I have seen, by and large it has not looked as though we could have dealt with them differently, but the issue is worth investigating. To say that the Treasury should do what it can for small businesses is a good thing, whether or not we say that we should not be put in a worse competitive position. Our markets are bigger and, because we have bigger global markets, we may have to regulate in a way that looks stronger rather than weaker. There may be other ways that it does not suit the specificities. I would be a little worried about “no worse competitive position” taken to its extreme, but in the general sense it is possibly more acceptable.