Official Listing of Securities, Prospectus and Transparency (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 - Motion to Approve

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:45 pm on 18th February 2019.

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Photo of Lord Bates Lord Bates The Minister of State, Department for International Development 8:45 pm, 18th February 2019

Again, I thank noble Lords for their contributions to this debate, which has been very useful and has focused on two themes, as will I. The first is about process, the second about the level of consultation or engagement. I will try to put some points on the record and address the specific technical points raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Bowles, and the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe.

What we are doing here is onshoring the regulations that already exist, which have gone through a scrutiny process involving the European Commission and regulators in the EU, the European Parliament and our own House. We are onshoring those to the UK. These are exceptional circumstances; they are not normal circumstances in which we are doing it.

The criticism seems to be: why have we waited so long? It is worth putting on the record here that the powers by which we are undertaking this process were set out in some detail by the EU withdrawal Act. I think I said, wrongly, that there were only 10 hours of consideration about the Section 8 process. In fact there were 12 hours of consideration of this process, which was then adopted by both Houses of Parliament.

However, the EU withdrawal Act did not get its Royal Assent until 26 June. I tried to find out—given that the enabling power we had was available on 26 June last year—when the first of our SIs was laid under this process, given that the charge that has been made is that the Treasury has been somewhat dilatory in its approach. The first SI was laid on 16 July. That is not exactly a long gap between Royal Assent, having the power and actually beginning the process. We started debating these for the first time—the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, the noble Baroness, Lady Kramer, and many familiar faces will remember our first hour in the Moses Room talking about the broad principles—on 17 October, and we have been going more or less every week since then with new SIs coming through.

I want noble Lords, particularly my noble friend Lady Altmann, who I know has a great deal of expertise in this area, to feel reassured that what we are dealing with here are rules and regulations which the industry was already operating by, but under a different regulatory system, that we are now bringing onshore and applying fixes using powers and scrutiny that were set out by the EU withdrawal Act. In a timely process, we have brought that forward. I cannot claim that that will satisfy everybody, but it is worth putting that position on the record.

On whether it was consultation or engagement, in many ways we are discussing the words and phrases of it. What we are talking about here is not a normal consultation. I readily accept the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Adonis, that the rules on consultation are laid down by the Cabinet Office. As set out, they involve a particular process. That is why we are always very careful when we say “consultation” at the Dispatch Box; it has a particular formula attached to it. We might instead say “engagement”. We have consistently used the term “industry engagement” through this process. As came out in the contributions from the noble Earl, Lord Kinnoull, and my noble friend Lord Leigh, industry has been almost the wind in our sails, urging us to get on with this, because of the consequences of not having these safeguards in place, leading to a cliff edge. There has been a push. My noble friend Lord Bridges highlighted the report by Stephen Jones in his UK Finance newsletter. I see my noble friend Lady Wheatcroft in her place, so I hesitate to summarise it in this way, but in terms of the City there are effectively only two main bodies: there is UK Finance, which represents a substantial body of financial services, and TheCityUK. My noble friend Lord Bridges referred to UK Finance.