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Regrettably, my new clause does not include lawyers or indeed reinsurers. The new clause would require that the committee include representatives of the groups listed, but that list is not intended to be an exhaustive one, if there is a good case—as I am sure there is—for other groups such as lawyers or reinsurers to be represented on the committee. The new clause would also make provision for the committee to be chaired by an independent person.
Lord Freud was very positive about the idea of an oversight committee and expressed his agreement with the idea behind the amendments to that effect that were tabled by Lord McKenzie when the Bill was on Report in the House of Lords. He said:
“The suggestion was made in Committee, and since then we have been exploring available options for some form of oversight. I spent some time looking for an existing mechanism or body already within the auspices of the DWP that I could utilise, but I have not been able to find a suitable vehicle. We are therefore continuing to explore all the options.”—[Official Report, House of Lords, 17 July 2013; Vol. 747, c. 843.]
Will the Minister tell us what progress has been made since that statement in the House of Lords? Obviously, if an existing body can be utilised that would undoubtedly speed up the matter, which would be very welcome. If not, we would like to hear what progress has been made in establishing a new body.
I know that the Minister is reluctant to see measures added to the Bill, but it is important that people have an absolute assurance that there will be an independent oversight committee for the scheme. The best possible way to give them that assurance would be to include reference to such a body in the Bill.