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 Adonis Lord Adonis Labour 8:45 pm, 18th February 2019

My Lords, the longer this debate has gone on, like so many of our debates on these no-deal regulations, the clearer the case has become for having this consultation. In the last 15 minutes, prompted by my noble friend Lord Tunnicliffe, a very important issue has arisen about the distinction between EEA and non-EEA states when it comes to the new listings and publications regime. The noble Baroness, Lady Kramer, brought up the exceedingly important policy point underlying it. This is not my area—my role is simply to facilitate the proper scrutiny by Parliament of these important changes to the law—but it has become ever clearer as this debate has gone on, let alone all the others we have had, why there should have been proper consultation.

Some noble Lords have said that these are exceptional circumstances. I repeat the point that, first, these are exceptional circumstances of the Government’s own making. We are not talking about acts of God here; these are acts of the Government and the Government could correct these acts. The second point was made by the noble Baroness, Lady Altmann, and is incredibly important. The precedents we are setting in the examination of the statutory instruments and the processes we require to put in place, given that we are going to have a cascade more—particularly if we do indeed Brexit at the end of this process, because we are going to have literally hundreds of these, year by year—will all be cited.

The noble Lord, Lord Bridges, says that it is all very well, we have engagement not consultation, and the noble Earl is relieved that his industry is not actually going to be trashed by this regulation, although there are many others that will do so in due course if we Brexit. He says that we should get on with it and that the people he knows are very grateful that they have at least had the opportunity to engage. I tell the House that, once these precedents start to be cited, we can wave goodbye to the normal Cabinet Office processes and procedures for conducting consultations. That is what will happen. That is what always happens once you start sliding down this kind of slippery slope.

The Minister quoted TheCityUK in respect of this instrument. It is important to understand TheCityUK. I have been reading its representations and what it thinks about how the Government have handled the Brexit process in relation to financial services. Shortly after the Brexit referendum, in September 2016, the same guy the Minister quoted said:

“While at this stage it is too early to talk about conclusions from the Brexit negotiations, access to the single market on terms that resemble, as closely as possible, the access the UK currently enjoys is the top of our list”.

That is what this organisation said.

Then, when the Government published the political declaration with the withdrawal agreement at the end of last year, which marked a significant retreat from the objectives that were set out before in terms of mutual recognition, TheCityUK said:

“Mutual recognition would have been the best way forward. It is regrettable and frustrating that this approach has been dropped before even making it to the negotiating table”.

That is what these vital sectors of our economy think about what is happening at the moment. The fact that they are clutching at the straws of having no-deal regulations in place that prevent catastrophe if we leave in five weeks’ time with no arrangement whatever with the EU is no excuse at all for the way this whole business is being handled and for the discarding of our normal processes and procedures.

I make no excuse for detaining the House at this hour. I would be very happy to carry on these debates with the Minister into the early hours if it would bring about change in government policy. He is normally very open to these matters, so maybe it is an invitation to keep going for a long period, because we might then get proper processes of consultation and engagement in place. As a poor substitute for that, I beg leave to test the opinion of the House.

Ayes 21, Noes 121.