My Lords, in speaking to the Motion on the sixth report, I shall speak also to the other Motion in my name on the Order Paper today, that the first report of this Session be agreed to.
On the first Motion, as noble Lords know, the Financial Services and Markets Act 2023 repealed retained EU law for financial services and established a new framework for the regulation of financial services in the United Kingdom. The debates in this House during the passage of the Bill attracted the attention of many of your Lordships who have valuable expertise in this field, either directly through involvement in the financial services sector or indirectly through involvement in the scrutiny of financial services on one of your Lordships’ committees, such as the former EU Select Committee or, more recently, the Industry and Regulators Committee. The value of parliamentary scrutiny in this field is entirely proven.
The Act provides for Select Committees in each House, or a Joint Committee, to scrutinise consultations issued by regulators of financial services, as is set out in detail in the sixth report. The possibility of a Joint Committee was considered by exchange of letters with my counterpart in the House of Commons, Sir Bernard Jenkin. The House of Commons did not wish to advance that option. This exchange is a matter of record, as is the desire of all parties to ensure that the work of the two Houses in this area is complementary rather than duplicative. That is the position in respect of all our committees, and will continue to be the position with regard to a new committee on financial services regulation.
As noted by the noble Baroness, Lady Penn, the Minister during the passage of the Bill,
“there will be more than sufficient work to go round different committees, and they have already proven themselves able to co-ordinate their work so that it is not duplicative”.—[
This is an important area of work, and ensuring complementarity between this and other committees contributes to the effective scrutiny of the sector. There are several means of ensuring complementarity, not least of which is good and regular dialogue between respective chairs and staff of the committees. More details are set out in paragraph 15 of the report on this matter. This will be an influential committee, with a role set out in legislation. We undoubtedly have the expertise to make a profound contribution to the consideration of a sector that is of such significant interest and importance to our country’s economy. Therefore, I hope that noble Lords will support the first Motion standing in my name.
I turn to the second Motion in my name on the Order Paper. At the start of this year the House appointed four special inquiry committees: on the integration of primary and community care; education for 11 to 16 year-olds; the horticultural sector; and artificial intelligence in weapons systems. Two of those committees have now published their reports; the remaining two will be published very shortly. I take this opportunity to thank all Members who contributed to those inquiries and indeed to all our committee work during the year. I also place on record my thanks to the staff who have supported the work of your Lordships’ Select Committees this year.
On the proposed special inquiry committees for next year, the Liaison Committee received 39 high-quality suggestions from noble Lords, almost double the number received last year, illustrating well the range of interest and expertise across the House. All those proposals have been published on the committee’s website. As ever, the Liaison Committee faced a difficult task. We assessed the proposals against our published criteria, which are that a committee should make best use of the knowledge and experience of members; complement the work of existing Select Committees, including Commons departmental Select Committees; address areas of policy that cross departmental boundaries; and be capable of being completed within 10 months.
We also took into account wider factors, such as the overall balance of topics selected and work being undertaken by other Lords committees and within government. As our report sets out, we decided to propose four special inquiry committees on: food, diet and obesity; the Modern Slavery Act 2015; preterm birth; and statutory inquiries. I hope that noble Lords agree that the committee’s recommendations cover a wide range of subjects, will make excellent use of Members’ backgrounds and will contribute to debates and policy-making in a range of topical and crosscutting areas.
I highlight post-legislative scrutiny. I am reminded that, last year, we received no proposals from your Lordships for post-legislative scrutiny committees—indeed, this drew comment from Members of the House. I am therefore very pleased to report that, this year, we received seven post-legislative scrutiny proposals and that the Liaison Committee is recommending two: on the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and on statutory inquiries. I am also reminded of exchanges in this Chamber about the importance of Select Committees engaging with all parts of the United Kingdom, particularly given that many policy areas are now devolved. I therefore emphasise the importance of dialogue with all parts of the United Kingdom, ensuring that our reports will be of value to all parts of the United Kingdom in turn. With that said, I am pleased to recommend these four special inquiry committees to the House. I beg to move the first Motion standing in my name.