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Lord Jenkin of Roding: My Lords, I am sure that the whole House is indebted to the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, for the care with which he has explained this very large group of amendments which covers some pages of the Marshalled List. I should also like to say that those of us who have been seeking to follow the proceedings on the Bill and have had advance notice with explanations of the amendments very much appreciate that. The noble Lord is doing his best to make an extremely unpalatable mess of pottage possibly a little more palatable than it otherwise would be.
I shall not detain the House long on this point, but, here we are, nearing the end of a long legislative process. It has spread over two Sessions of Parliament. The Bill was carried over and the noble Lord, Lord Burns, who is no longer in his place, chaired the Joint Committee of both Houses on the Bill. It has proceeded through all its stages in another place and then it came to this House. It has been through several days of Committee and we are now on the second day of Report. But we still find ourselves facing page after page after page of amendments. I really must once again make a protest that this is no way to legislate.
Those outside who have tried to follow the proceedings have been dismayed at the way in which things have been done. One of the things of which one has also become aware is that many of them are keeping their heads well below the parapet because they do not wish to get into the bad books of the Financial Services Authority. There have been several examples of that. It may be appropriate at a later stage to draw attention to the article in today's Daily Telegraph saying that there must not be an unofficial blacklist of people. The powers being given to the authority, which no doubt under this sheaf of amendments may be exercised a little more logically and with a little more regulation, as it were, than had originally been provided, are immense. That we are at this very late stage making this whole sheaf of amendments to the Bill demonstrates how unsatisfactorily this whole process has been carried on.
I have made my protest about this before and I feel that it is appropriate to do so again. When we have this group of amendments, with new clauses coming in and with existing clauses being taken out and whole parts of the Bill being effectively rewritten at this late stage, I must once again protest and say that this is a disgraceful way of proceeding.
Lord Peyton of Yeovil: My Lords, I should like briefly to apologise for the fact that it was not possible for me to get here earlier. I had no intention of rising to my feet until I heard the contribution made by my noble friend Lord Jenkin. My noble friend lost nothing by his restraint as it was a very effective protest. I should like particularly to echo what he said in tribute to the noble Lord the Minister, who has the embarrassing task of defending the really messy conduct of the Bill. I just wish I knew who really is responsible; if anyone has been the pilot--p-i-l-o-t, not spelt the other way--behind the scenes.
I shall not detain the House any longer except to say that if I were given a single wish now it would be that the noble Lord who is conducting proceedings on the Bill would so far forget himself as to forget where he is and think that he was sitting, as he was a couple of years ago, on the Opposition Front Bench. I do not believe for one moment that he would be quite so restrained in his condemnation of the Government's conduct as, on the whole, we on this side of the House have been. I want to ask one question. Is it possible to identify anyone who has been more responsible than most for the ghastly mess in which we find ourselves?
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I have to say to the noble Lords, Lord Jenkin and Lord Peyton, that flattery will get them nowhere. I have listened to these complaints. I thought that the thrust of the complaints at the Committee stage had some justification and I apologised; indeed, I think I used the word "grovel". But I do not think that I am in that position now. What we doing with the Bill is consistently, deliberately and carefully improving it. I do not believe that we are being helped particularly by the Opposition.
Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for giving way. Am I correct in understanding that not so long ago the noble Lord made a proud boast in the Dining Room of your Lordships' House that the first time he read the notes for the amendments was when he got up to read them?
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I would be very surprised if the noble and learned Lord was right in saying that; and, if he were, it would be entirely improper for him to quote in the House anything that I said in the Dining Room. I do not know what kind of a club this is, but it certainly is not the club in which one quotes what other people say in a dining room and attribute that quote.
I was not going to say anything about these matters until I was attacked--until the Government were attacked--but now I have been attacked I shall respond to that. I shall respond to the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, who made a most outrageous statement. He said that there were people in the City who had objections to the Bill but were not prepared to raise those objections for fear of being victimised by the Financial Services Authority. If there are such people, let the noble Lord name them. If there are not such people, let him not make such an accusation, which is damaging to the reputation both of the City and of the Financial Services Authority.
I turn to the issue of powers under the Bill. I have already made the point several times today--it applies to previous stages of the Bill--that in the Bill the Government are limiting the powers of the Financial Services Authority, to create greater certainty about those powers and to make the Bill easier to operate. The only amendment on which the Opposition have chosen to divide the House is an amendment which would increase the scope of the Financial Services Authority's activities to the extent of encompassing another 60,000 people and employing another 200 staff. I ask the world outside to judge who is complicating the Bill and who is attempting to improve it.
Finally, I was asked by the noble Lord, Lord Peyton, how I should feel if I were on the Opposition Benches, faced with government amendments, and whether I should have been as restrained as he has been. The Financial Services Act was introduced by the noble Lord's government in 1986. It was a smaller Act; it was not concerned with banking or insurance, or with the European economic area, Lloyd's or the
Lord Peyton of Yeovil: My Lords, I am obliged to the noble Lord for giving way. He refers to my government. It was not exactly my government. Indeed, if the noble Lord would care to do me the favour of exercising his considerable memory, he will remember that my relations with what he calls "my government" were not all that warm at the time.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I do not deny that the noble Lord was in opposition to the government of the party of which he is a member and whose Whip he takes. I do not deny that he was, in many cases, an outstanding opponent when they were doing things that were particularly wrong. But there is an element of collective responsibility. We are talking about the Conservative Party, which put through defective legislation to a much greater degree than we have done, to which we responded with considerable restraint--much more restraint than was shown by the noble Lords, Lord Jenkin and Lord Peyton.
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