Amendment 61

Part of Professional Qualifications Bill [HL] - Committee (3rd Day) – in the House of Lords at 5:45 pm on 22 June 2021.

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Photo of Lord Palmer of Childs Hill Lord Palmer of Childs Hill Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords) 5:45, 22 June 2021

My Lords, it is my great pleasure to speak here in the graveyard spot on this Bill to the amendments in my name. I thank the Minister for his letter of 20 June concerning the professions and regulators to which this Bill applies. It would have been a bit more helpful to have had it earlier.

It seems that BEIS has recognised the point I made in my amendments that the ICAEW and other accountancy professional bodies are in the scope of the Professional Qualifications Bill, owing to their role as recognised supervisory bodies for the purposes of statutory audit, insolvency, probate and administration of oaths. This has been referred to by many noble Lords from around the Chamber during the course of this Bill. As this addresses the point made in my amendments regarding the rationale for including the ICAEW, of which I am a member, in the scope of the legislation, I hope that the Minister will acknowledge when he replies that it helped to review the actual impact of the Bill, as his letter helped me in making this speech.

It feels like the Government are rushing through this legislation without having thought through the detail of the Bill and its consequences. Noble Lords are now having to try to fix this. For the list of regulators and professions affected by this Bill to have changed so substantially while the legislation is being scrutinised by your Lordships’ House does not help give certainty on such an important and wide-ranging legislative measure.

Between this Bill’s conclusion in the House of Lords and it eventually beginning to go through the lower Chamber—and eventually when it comes to Report—it is vital that BEIS takes stock of this legislation, reviews its intended and unintended consequences, and engages with those regulators and professional bodies in scope to iron out any remaining concerns. The noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, said earlier in this debate that there needs to be a pause to the Bill. There needs to be a certain something which does not just carry on as we are now.

A remaining concern—and my last words on this—is on the need for the regulation of accountants and tax advisers. At present, anyone can set themselves up to give this service—and maybe they should. I hope that the Government will consider whether any regulation in some form is required. After all, where pig farmers go, accountants should surely follow. I beg leave to move the amendment.