Clause 68

Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 1:00 pm on 19 June 2008.

Alert me about debates like this


Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Pat McFadden Pat McFadden Minister of State (Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform) (Employment Relations and Postal Affairs), Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

The clause provides that where a Minister has made an order conferring sanctioning powers on a regulator, they may direct it not to impose further sanctions. Subsection (2) provides that the Minister may take such action only if there is evidence that the regulator has failed

“on more than one occasion”— an important point—to comply with a duty imposed on it. We are not trying to set up a new regulatory regime, as the hon. Member for Hertford and Stortford just said in relation to the previous clause, that could simply be withdrawn if there is a failure on just one occasion. There is a tone of persistence about the suspension clause that I want to impress on the Committee.

The clause provides, therefore, that such a direction could be made only where there is evidence that the regulator has failed more than once to comply with a duty imposed on it under part 3 of the Bill, or to act in accordance with its penalty guidance, enforcement policy or relevant principles of regulatory best practice. Subsection (3) provides that a Minister may revoke a direction suspending a regulator’s sanctioning powers

“if satisfied that the regulator has taken the appropriate steps to remedy the failure”.

Furthermore, the clause ensures transparency, and subsection (4) requires the Minister to consult before making a direction to suspend the powers or revoke such a direction. As the hon. Gentleman said earlier, the Bill allows regulators access to a range of important new powers. We talked this morning about stop notices, which could be particularly significant. Businesses and others subject to the powers in the Bill need assurances that regulators will use the sanctioning powers responsibly and consistently. The clause contains safeguards, therefore, by providing for a power to suspend their use, if that is not the case.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 68 ordered to stand part of the Bill.