Clause 3

Part of Legal Services Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:30 pm on 12th June 2007.

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Photo of Bridget Prentice Bridget Prentice Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Justice 6:30 pm, 12th June 2007

If I may, I shall explain to the hon. Member for North-West Norfolk why the provision is worded as it is, although I have to say that I found his argument extremely persuasive, and what I really want to do is to go away and think about how the provision works. If I correctly understood him, he argues that we should take out the phrase

“so far as is reasonably practicable”. and concentrate on whether clause 3(2)(b) encompasses what we want to achieve. If that represents a correct understanding of his argument, I have quite some sympathy for it.

The Government did not want to put an absolute requirement on the board and on the regulator to act in such a way as to be fully compatible with all the regulatory objectives all the time, because that could result in greater cost and bureaucracy, and probably in greater intervention by the board in the regulatory activities of the approved regulators—not least because there would then be a risk of judicial review if they did not so act.

The flexible and risk-based approach that Sir David Clementi advocated was the reason for drafting the clause as it is, such that the right way forward is to deal with matters on a case-by-case basis. The wording of clauses 3 and 28 therefore tries to recognise that the objectives might apply to a greater or lesser extent in the carrying out of functions, or even, sometimes, not at all.

I shall consider whether removal of the relevant phrase would undermine that flexibility in any way and whether we could rework clause 3(2)(b) to ensure that it would encompass the principles that we all agree should apply. On that basis, I ask the hon. Gentleman to withdraw his amendment.