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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:15 pm on 8th January 2019.

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Photo of Lord Adonis Lord Adonis Labour 6:15 pm, 8th January 2019

My Lords, my Amendments 11A, 11B, 12A and 15A seek to establish fuller procedures for the consideration of any changes to the law that the Government might wish to make that go beyond simply transposing European law in the shape of seeking advice from the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee, the House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee or any other committee charged by the House of Commons or the House of Lords with fulfilling similar functions, as well as advice from the Bank of England.

Given the gravity of the issues that are potentially at stake in these changes in the law over and above simply transposing existing European law, advice from these committees is essential because we have to make significant decisions where the only power that we have is to say yes or no to statutory instruments. We will not tease out the issues, as we do in the normal course of Committee debates such as this. As one long experienced both as a Minister and as an opposition Member going through that process, I know that it is hugely valuable for the House at large in coming to understand and get to grips with the issues at stake. However, by definition those processes will not be available under this Bill because its whole purpose is to give the Government the power to legislate by means of statutory instruments, which are either subject to no debate whatever in this House or subject to only a short debate with the power to say yes or no.

In those circumstances, imposing on the Government a requirement to seek advice first from the Treasury Select Committee, our own delegated legislation Select Committee and the Bank of England, and to make that advice available to Parliament, would be both an important means of informing your Lordships and Members of the House of Commons about the issues at stake and, to be blunt, a check on the Government’s acting without seeking proper advice, while exposing their proposed changes in the law to proper scrutiny.

The issues set out in the Schedule are very substantial. I do not think the Minister will deny that. I will read out a selection of the proposals set out in the Schedule,

“for the purposes of Section 1”.

The list of European Commission proposals includes those:

“on the prudential supervision of investment firms”,

on facilitating,

“cross-border distribution of collective investment funds … on the issue of covered bonds and covered bond public supervision”,

and,

“on low carbon benchmarks and positive carbon impact benchmarks”.

I read these out to make the point to the House that these are substantial issues which will impose substantial legal changes on an important industry in this country. It is therefore important to seek full advice from those charged with that task on the Treasury Select Committee and our delegated secondary legislation Committee, before changes are made in the law. I take the same view with the Bank of England: imposing a duty on it to give advice which will then be published would have the same effect. I look forward to hearing the Minister’s view. He has been open-minded on these issues, and generous in taking them away to consider further. I hope he will be prepared to consider this between Committee and Report.

Having said all this, I am so persuaded by the excellence of Amendment 7 in the names of my noble friends Lord Tunnicliffe and Lord Davies of Oldham that I believe it might supersede my amendment entirely. If we were to carry Amendment 7 and narrow the power in this Bill to regulations,

“limited to preventing, remedying or mitigating deficiencies in retained EU law”,

this issue would not arise in the first place; we would not need to seek advice from Select Committees or the Bank of England on regulations that have such a limited scope. Although I look forward to the Minister’s reply, in the process of mutual learning provided by Committee stages—but which will not be provided in respect of Orders in Council under this Bill—I have been persuaded that my amendments might be entirely redundant. My noble friends have produced such brilliant alternative amendments that, if they were to be carried, they would supersede the need for us to go down the routes that I was proposing. I urge my noble friends to stick to their guns with Amendment 7 and not to engage in a dialogue with the Minister that might in any way water down its excellence. There will then be no need for me to proceed with any of my four amendments. I beg to move.