Previous SectionIndexHome Page

5 Nov 2002 : Column 251—continued

Mr. McWalter: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Robathan: The hon. Gentleman was on the Committee, so I will of course give way.

Mr. McWalter: I wished to point out to the hon. Gentleman that I was on the Committee and made

5 Nov 2002 : Column 252

several telling contributions. I have been watching the Bill's progress with a sense of paternal joy at the liberation of enterprise that it will involve.

Mr. Robathan: I am always pleased to give way to my old bridge partner, and I knew that he served on the Committee. It was not he who made the sedentary intervention, as he knows.

Mr. David Borrow (South Ribble): Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Robathan: No, because I am about to finish my speech.

Mr. Borrow: On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it appropriate for the Opposition spokesman to name me as having made a sedentary intervention when I made no such remark?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Michael Lord): Order. I do not recall that the hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Robathan) named any hon. Member. As for interventions, who Members give way to is entirely a matter for them.

11 pm

Mr. Robathan: Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I shall certainly not bother giving way again.

Before I sit down, I have to correct myself, as the hon. Member for Twickenham was right. Professor John Vickers has yet to be made Sir John Vickers. However, I am almost certain that I have heard him referred to before as Sir John, and I am sure that it is only a matter of time before the honour arrives in his post.

I hope that the Bill does the good that is intended. We wish it well, with reservations. We shall not press the matter to a vote.

Dr. Cable: I echo the comments of the hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Robathan). The original amendment was tabled in the Lords for two reasons. The first was to reinforce the argument for splitting the roles of chairman and chief executive, but that point has now been conceded and does not need pursuing.

The second reason was touched on the by the hon. Member for Blaby, and is a bit more mysterious. The Financial Services Bill that recently went through the House contained a very simple phrase and description, but the Government feel, for some reason, that it is necessary to change it radically. I do not understand that.

The language that has been inserted in the Bill about the appropriate roles of public bodies is equally applicable to the FSA. I do not understand the logic of the Minister's argument. She says that the amendment is necessary because the OFT is a different sort of body, but there is nothing in the change that relates to the difference between the OFT and the FSA.

I think that what has happened is that the FSA was allowed to get away with a commitment to corporate governance, but that the civil servants decided that the formulation did not build in enough of the public service

5 Nov 2002 : Column 253

culture. They did not want another quango to get away with the same thing, so they decided to toughen up the language.

It is not worth pursuing the point through ping-ponging between the two Houses, but the amendment does seem to be an example of retrospective tidying up rather than an issue of principle for which the Government are fighting. However, I have no intention of pursuing the matter further.

Miss Melanie Johnson: I shall clarify the differences between the OFT and the FSA in this respect. There are a couple of crucial differences, and the first is that the OFT is publicly funded, whereas the FSA is not. Effectively, it is funded by a levy on industry. Therefore, although it may comply with them, the FSA does not have the same obligations as the OFT to take proper account of the guidance rules and procedures for public bodies. An example of that guidance would be the Treasury rules on public accounting.

The existence of those differences is why we have been careful to make sure that an explicit formulation in this respect—and I believe that the hon. Member for Twickenham (Dr. Cable) will appreciate this—will pick up the notions of good governance, appropriately adapted from a private-sector context for the explicit public-sector responsibilities of the OFT.

Bob Spink: Will the Minister give way?

Miss Johnson: I shall allow the hon. Gentleman a second on his feet.

Bob Spink: Will the Minister name one industry in which the combination of the roles of chief executive officer and chairman in one person is accepted as good governance?

Miss Johnson: My point was that the OFT is not a private company involved in industry. It is a public body, publicly funded to discharge public functions, and it is therefore different from the bodies to which the hon. Gentleman referred.

Bob Spink: Will the Minister give way?

Miss Johnson: No. We are dealing with a basic point about corporate good governance. My understanding is that hon. Members of all parties accept that corporate good governance is an important concept, whose furtherance we all support. Indeed, I was grateful that the hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Robathan) remarked upon the White Paper on company law review which I launched in July. There is a considerable amount of other work being done on good governance in the business sector, and it is important that we recognise its value.

We are simply trying to recognise both the proposals that were put forward in another place to recognise the formulation used in the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 which, of course, I am only too happy to replicate. I want to modify those appropriately to reflect the OFT's public role. Having explained that, I hope that the House will feel able to support amendment (a).

Question put and agreed to.

5 Nov 2002 : Column 254

Amendment made: (a) to Lords amendment No. 2 in lieu of amendment 2A.—[Miss Melanie Johnson.]


Mr. Deputy Speaker: We now come to motions 5, 6 and 7, which, for the convenience of the House, we will take together.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(6) (Standing Committees on Delegated Legislation),

Terms and Conditions of Employment

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(6)(Standing Committees on Delegated Legislation),

Northern Ireland

Question agreed to.

5 Nov 2002 : Column 255



11.7 pm

Mr. Parmjit Dhanda (Gloucester): I am delighted, on this bonfire night, to present a petition calling for an urgent review of existing legislation of fireworks, which was signed by 220 of my constituents in the constituency of Gloucester.

The petition declares that the existing legislation on fireworks is in need of urgent review.

To lie upon the Table.

Consumers for Health Choice

11.8 pm

Mr. Mark Francois (Rayleigh): I wish to present a petition on behalf of some 280 of my constituents, who are very concerned about the implications of the European food supplements directive and the proposed European directive on traditional herbal medicinal products, particularly as these could materially infringe on their right to choose safe vitamin and mineral supplements and herbal remedies in future.

To lie upon the Table.


11.9 pm

Mr. Bob Blizzard (Waveney): On this anniversary of a famous event that took place somewhere near this Chamber a few hundred years ago, I wish to present a petition from 793 residents of Lowestoft in my constituency who are concerned about the nuisance and danger caused to people and animals by those who misuse fireworks; and by the spread of this practice way beyond the short period of time around 5 November to the extent that it constitutes antisocial behaviour.

To lie upon the Table.

Next Section

IndexHome Page