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My Lords, I remind the House of my declaration of interests, particularly my chairmanship of the association representing financial advisors.
I apologise to the House—but not to my noble friend, because he has not heard the comments that I have carried through all the debates on these statutory instruments. I would not like this statutory instrument to pass without us yet again making the point that this is rubbish. We should not be here. This is a nonsense. The more you read about it, the more you realise what a nonsense it is. The truth is that we are kindly giving other people the opportunity to do things that we have always done, and we will not be able to do them unless we are prepared to take the same rules as everyone else. So the whole thing is a nonsense. I am sorry that my noble friend the Minister has to present it. He will do so charmingly and nicely and will not be rude about it, but I do not want him to go without some people on this side of the House, as well as others, saying that we should not be here. We have spent hours and hours on debate. He very rightly thanked all the people who have helped him, but they should not have been wasting their time. We have spent an enormous amount of time doing something wholly deleterious to the United Kingdom. In the whole of my long life I cannot remember an occasion on which that has been so obvious.
This happens to be a worse Government than those who have preceded them in this situation, but the fact remains that we should not be here, because what is being proposed is bad for Britain. We are not taking back control; we are putting ourselves into a position in which other people will have control and we will have no say in it at all.
That is the first point about this very small and unimportant series of amendments. The second point is this: as the noble Baroness has so often said before and has said again today, it is utterly impossible for people to keep up with the minutiae, or with the very fact that the Government has had yet again to make changes. I noticed a very elegant phrase that my noble friend used: “Like all legislation, when we went through it again there were things that we needed to change”. Of course there are, if you keep on legislating entirely unnecessarily at great length in order to damage our country. That is what is so serious. Of course, it is true that we have found yet more examples. I imagine that the noble Baroness, Lady Bowles, with her considerable knowledge, will find some more, and we will go and tell the Government how nice it would be if they added all these other things.
The third reason I intervene is simply that the financial services industry is an important part of the United Kingdom’s economy; it does some very important things. Over many years, it has become respected throughout the world for its knowledge and under- standing. There have, of course, been occasions when things have gone wrong. I am the last person to defend that. But we have an established reputation throughout the world. I say to my noble friend the Minister that this is another example of us undermining that reputation for no good reason at all.
Of course, we will pass this and go through the motions yet again, but I resent having to spend good time on bad proposals. I resent it not just for myself, noble friends or noble Peers opposite; I resent it for all those decent civil servants who have spent their time not improving this country, not extending its influence, not making things better for Britain—but undermining it, in what I know they will have tried to make the least damaging way. The fundamental process is deeply damaging. I do not think that this House should pass these things without reminding the Government, including even so charming a Minister as we have, of the nonsense that we are engaged in.