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House of Lords Hansard
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Financial Services (Implementation of Legislation) Bill [HL]
06 February 2019
Volume 795

Third Reading

A privilege amendment was made.

Motion

Moved by

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That the Bill do now pass.

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My Lords, very briefly, I should like to ask the Minister a question to do with the in-flight EU prospectus regulation, which has passed all its legislative stages but has not yet been gazetted, as I understand it, and so cannot be treated as settled legislation and is therefore treated in the Bill under the amendment provisions in Clause 1(2)(b). If the legislation is gazetted while the Bill is in the Commons, do the Government intend to move it into the category of settled legislation, governed by Clause 1(2)(a)? What happens if the legislation is gazetted after the Bill has left the Commons but before 29 March? How will the Government make sure that the power to make adjustments is not applied to the now settled piece of legislation?

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My Lords, that is a good question. We had hoped that it would be gazetted before then, in which case we could then have made the amendment that we talked about. I was grateful for the noble Lord’s suggestion on that. I cannot say that we have had an explicit conversation about this aspect, but it is going to arrive. Providing that it passes your Lordships’ House, it will be heard in the Commons I think on Monday next week. The same principle would apply—that if it is gazetted we will put it in there. That was certainly the spirit of what we agreed. I will make absolutely sure that the Economic Secretary and the Financial Secretary, who are dealing with this in the other place, are apprised of the commitment that I gave and which we will seek to honour.

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My Lords, I am grateful for that answer, which shows that the Government are on top of the issue—against a background where we must all recognise that time is somewhat short with regard to this legislation. The SI relates to a service industry that is a crucial part of our economy. We could not afford any situation in which a gap occurred; I am sure that the Minister is seized of that fact.

We are all aware of the fact that there are not many days left to the point where we are due to leave the European Community, yet there is still a very large number of SIs to be considered. Slips such as this, which are minor, can be remedied reasonably quickly by appropriate action, as the Minister indicated. But slips such as this could be costly if we are right up against the wire with regard to the legislation we are seeking to pass. We must all be conscious of the fact that the Government’s programme between now and the end of March is pretty demanding, to put it mildly. So, although I accept entirely what the Minister said and am reassured by the promptness of the Government’s response, this is an indication that there is many a slip between cup and lip, and the Government do not have much time for a monumental programme.

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My Lords, when the Minister spoke on 4 December at Second Reading, he said that the Bill was part of a package of measures and statutory instruments to ensure that the financial services industry would be covered in the event of no deal. He said specifically:

“That stability and continuity is being delivered by the 60 or so statutory instruments that Her Majesty’s Treasury is introducing under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018”.—[Official Report, 4/12/18; col. 934.]

Will the Minister tell us how many of those 60 or so statutory instruments have been laid before Parliament, and would he be in a position to write to me to tell me what the timetable is for laying those that have not yet been laid before Parliament before 29 March?

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My Lords, before the Minister answers those questions, may I ask one of my own in relation to the report of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee? Will the Minister tell the House whether and how the recommendations in paragraphs 8, 16 and 19 of that report have been dealt with?

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My Lords, before the Minister responds, will he give me some assurances about how these regulations and this legislation, when it becomes legislation, are going to have any particular impact on online financial institutions? I think that they are the ones where the future is going to lie. I declare an interest as a former chairman of Monzo, an online bank. It is important that the Minister gives some reassurance about the particular impact that this could have on a completely different form of financial institution.

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I thank the noble Lord, Lord Davies, for his comments. As he has set out, the schedule that we are up against here is pretty demanding. All of us on the Front Benches are in solidarity in recognising the demands of the work going on. It is also demanding on some of the committees of your Lordships’ House, which are having to do an incredible amount of work. I am thinking of the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee and its sub-committees, under my noble friend Lord Trefgarne and the noble Lord, Lord Cunningham of Felling, which is doing a tremendous amount of work.

The noble Lord, Lord Adonis, asked about the progress being made. We have agreed that we will provide regular updates. We have approximately 60 pieces of secondary legislation that need to come through. Around 45 are subject to the affirmative procedure and, of those, 22 or 23 have made their journey through the House, with some benefiting from the scrutiny of the noble Lord himself. That is basically where we are: about half way. We have some 31 sitting days before Brexit, so it is a pressurised and demanding situation.

I turn to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, about the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee. I thank that committee in particular because it has done an excellent piece of work. In fact, we almost took the committee’s script to express concerns about the extent of the Henry VIII powers, some of the wording and some of the files that were in flight and which we have just been talking about. I am pretty sure we have addressed all those concerns. If that is not the case, I will write, but from recollection we wanted to address all the points.

The noble Baroness raised the online community. Of course a number of pieces of legislation relate to online financial regulation. I cannot be specific about which ones are relevant but it is a crucial point. We have had many long discussions in Grand Committee in the Moses Room about statutory instruments that have a strong online financial services element to them and make a significant contribution to the success of UK financial services. We want that to continue once we leave the European Union.

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My Lords, perhaps I may say a word or two to put this discussion into perspective. This side hates the idea of a no-deal exit and so on, but the Bill is an outstanding example of co-operation by the Government. The Bill has changed massively from the one introduced at Second Reading. The Government facilitated discussions with the Minister and officials. It is now a much better Bill and, given its task, which we abhor, it is nevertheless a good Bill.

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My Lords, I remind the House of my interests as set out in the register. I also express my thanks to the Minister and his officials, along with other noble Lords who tabled amendments. We have a more than satisfactory outcome. We now have much greater transparency, some new procedures under which the Government will report on what is going to happen and tables to show us where things have gone. I hope this will perhaps lay the ground for how some other things, in what may be more fortunate circumstances than Brexit, could continue in the future. On behalf of these Benches, I thank the noble Lord and the officials.

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I will ask a supplementary question to follow up the excellent contribution of my noble friend Lord Tunnicliffe about perspective and co-operation. The Bill, with the excellent co-operation of the opposition parties, has taken a number of weeks to get through this House, as the Minister knows. We are now dealing with the Trade Bill, the Healthcare (International Arrangements) Bill, the Agriculture Bill, the Fisheries Bill, the immigration Bill and the withdrawal Bill. Could the Minister, for whom I have great respect because he has a lot of experience here and in the other place—perhaps he has more wisdom than the previous people of whom I have asked this question—give me some indication of how these Bills, of which there are at least six, can be dealt with between now and 29 March?

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The noble Lord knows, having stood where I stand, that the Motion before the House is that this Bill do now pass. To be frank, most of us on the Front Bench are taking it one Bill and one SI at a time, so I will sidestep that question. I am sure my noble friend Lord Young, who has provided excellent assistance throughout on this, and is a member of the Government Whips’ Office, will have heard the remarks. I also thank the noble Baroness, Lady Bowles—

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That is really helpful. Is the Minister now saying that the noble Lord, Lord Young, for whom I have equally great respect, will answer that question?

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If my noble friend Lord Young were so inclined, he would probably want to give me a kick from the side and suggest that I keep moving on.

I turn to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, and the noble Baroness, Lady Bowles, because it was a good one: there is a great deal of expertise in this House, which could be brought to bear. We even had some free legal advice from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, to help us on our way. When we work constructively and recognise that the Government have a right to make progress with legislation, we can do some good work. Certainly, we can ensure that this legislation leaves your Lordships’ House much more fit for purpose and in better shape as it moves to the other place. That will, we hope, assist in expediting it through its procedures. I beg to move that the Bill do now pass.

Bill passed and sent to the Commons.