Amendment 16

Part of Financial Services Bill - Report (2nd Day) – in the House of Lords at 5:30 pm on 14th April 2021.

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Photo of Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Green 5:30 pm, 14th April 2021

My Lords, it is a great pleasure to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay of Llandaff, and her—as always—expert contribution, which has made me think again about that amendment. I put my name down for this group chiefly to speak to Amendment 27, in the name of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans, also signed by the noble Lord, Lord Sikka, and me. The reasons for this amendment have been broadly canvassed, notably by the noble Lord, Lord Foster of Bath, well known for Peers for Gambling Reform, which I was recently pleased to join. I do not feel that I need to make this case again, but there is a useful reflection to make—drawing also on what the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, just said, and sharing the frustration of the noble Lord, Lord Addington—about how, in this group of apparently disparate amendments, we see a real problem in the nature of our lawmaking in the difficulty of making progress. What we have here, as we had earlier with the sharia-compliant student loan, are apparently small, easily fixed issues, on which some very expert, knowledgeable, extremely capable people have spent years working, without progress being made. This particularly applies to Amendment 16 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher. Something clearly needs to be tackled and dealt with, and it looks simple; we need to see regulation, oversight and protection, but it is not happening.

In the interstices of what has been a rather hectic day for me, I was looking at the Law Society briefing for the National Security and Investment Bill, which is coming tomorrow. The Law Society does not have any party-political issues to raise on that, but it has looked at the Bill and has seen that we are creating huge problems. Somehow, our legislative process is not identifying issues. With commendable frankness, the noble Lord, Lord Blunkett, earlier identified his role on the issue that arises in Amendment 37C. Somehow, things are not coming together and delivering us workable laws. We need to think, as a House and as a society, about how we can end up getting more workable laws. I suggest that we need more co-operation, listening and input at the early stages, rather than a sudden decision by the Government to do something, which then results in a Bill.

We are not sure that there will be any votes on any of these amendments, but we clearly need action and I commend to your Lordships’ House the need for action on all of these, particularly Amendment 27, to protect vulnerable people.