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Insolvency (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018 - Motion to Approve

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:45 pm on 15th January 2019.

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Photo of Lord Henley Lord Henley Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) 7:45 pm, 15th January 2019

I will not comment on my legitimacy in front of the noble Lord, but I can assure him that I still have enthusiasm. I await guidance on what is going on in another place. Meanwhile, it is probably right and proper that we deal with this. Irrespective of that result, there is still the possibility that we might leave the EU without a deal. The noble Lord will be aware of all the legislation that has gone through with support from all parties, setting out what we will do and that if there is no deal we will leave on 29 March. That remains the situation at this stage. So it would be useful to continue with these regulations, which are designed purely to deal with a no-deal situation.

I will deal with some of the points made, starting with those from the noble Lord, Lord Fox, who referred again to asymmetry—I was worried that he was stealing it from the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson. I will make it clear that we are making changes here, because we can, but obviously we cannot control how other member states deal with their legislation. We think it is right to do so and so give certainty to the UK in the event of no deal. That is what we will do and we will continue to negotiate to deal with other matters.

Turning to the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, I am glad he reminded us that this regulation has generally been welcomed by industry; I think that is the case and it is very important. He also asked what assessment we had made of the total cost to business for all the no-deal SIs—I think that was the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson. On 28 November we published a robust, objective assessment of potential impacts on sectors, nations and regions of the UK, and it shows that our deal—which obviously had not been rejected by another place—would be the best available for jobs and economies. We will continue to publish individual impact assessments to accompany legislation, as we have done on many occasions, including SIs where appropriate.

I turn finally to the questions relating to the JCSI asked by my noble friend Lord Lexden. Again, I am grateful for his words. I repeat the praise for the JCSI, which I first served on some 35 years ago. We are fully aware of its concerns. As my noble friend may have seen, the department issued the very detailed memorandum to the committee that is attached to the report, setting out the reasons why the transitional provisions are important to protect the United Kingdom’s position on exit day in a no-deal scenario. I do not intend to go through all the points that were raised in that memorandum, other than to say that the safeguard provided is necessary to enable the court to act where there is an adverse impact of exit on insolvency cases that are already open on exit day. That power provided to the courts to deal with cases that are ongoing on exit day is both necessary and proportionate, and is similar to provisions found in other UK insolvency law. It would not be possible to limit its scope without potentially tying the hands of the courts in dealing with these matters.

I believe that I have dealt with the points that were raised, and I beg to move.

Motion agreed.