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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I hear what the noble Lord, Lord Newby, says about informed City opinion. However, even when informed City opinion agrees with the noble Lord—and I am not committed on that point—it is not always right. I can assure the noble Lord that arrangements will be made for a successor to be appointed to Sir Howard Davies in good time before he leaves his post to start at the London School of Economics on 1st October next year.

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts: My Lords, in the light of the Financial Times article entitled "Howard's way needs to divide", of the discussions in this House on the Enterprise Bill in which the settled view was that the Competition Commission should have a chairman and chief executive, and of the Government's own Strategy Unit on a review of charities recommending

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that the chairman and chief executive should be separated, is it not time for the Government to say "Yes" to the Question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Newby?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, if the Government were going to say "Yes", they would not leave it to me to make the announcement to Parliament. Someone more important would do it. The answer to the question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, is "No". He refers to a "settled view" about the chairmanship and chief executive, although he should have referred to the Office of Fair Trading, not to the Competition Commission. We were defeated in a vote on the Enterprise Bill, but we won in a vote on the Financial Services and Markets Bill. Parliament has therefore taken the view that the posts should be combined. I repeat that we have undertaken to review the matter when we appoint a successor to Sir Howard Davies, and we shall do so.

Earl Russell: My Lords, does the Minister realise that when he uses the phrase "a successor", in the singular, he begs the question raised by my noble friend Lord Newby?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the noble Earl, Lord Russell, is of course right. I should have said, "a successor or successors".

The Earl of Sandwich: My Lords, what are the reasons for placing the increased workload on the shoulders of the FSA and its chief executive? Does the Minister include over-regulation among those reasons?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, Parliament gave the FSA a series of very demanding tasks. It is true that the FSA is one of the most wide-ranging regulatory systems for a financial services industry in the world. It is also true that by regulation it has been decided that the scope of the FSA will be increased twofold by the inclusion of the mortgage industry and general insurance. Yes, the size of the FSA has gone up considerably. It is of course a matter for Sir Howard Davies, his colleagues and his board to decide what effect that has on the workload of any one individual.

Baroness O'Cathain: My Lords, although the Minister talks of extensive consultation on, and discussion about, combining the roles during the passage of the financial services legislation, does he agree that there was also much concern? Bearing in mind that several heads of regulatory bodies report to it, what message does continuing to combine the roles of chairman and chief executive in the FSA send to the rest of British companies, which are under strong guidance to split those roles?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I indicated in my first Answer the difference between the FSA and the private sector. In the private sector, it is widely agreed that to split the role of chairman and chief

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executive is correct because the interests of shareholders must be considered. It is generally thought that a non-executive chairman can fulfil that role. With the FSA there are of course no shareholders. Nothing that I have said should indicate that there is a settled view among Treasury Ministers that we will continue to combine the roles of chairman and chief executive. We said that we will review the matter and we will do so.

Lord Saatchi: My Lords, does the Minister mind the following summary of his answers? Yesterday, he said that the Government would not conform with generally accepted accounting principles and today he says that the Government will not conform with generally accepted governnance principles. That is not a model of compliance, is it?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, yesterday, I said the exact opposite of what the noble Lord, Lord Saatchi, suggests. Yesterday, I said that the Government do conform with generally accepted accounting practice. Therefore the second part of his question does not arise.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, is the Minister aware that the post of director of the London School of Economics, to which Sir Howard Davies is moving, is carefully balanced by that of the chairman of the court of governors? Does the noble Lord believe that the Government may want to take account of that model when considering Sir Howard's successors?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, far be it from me to intervene in the governance of the London School of Economics. No, I do not believe that there is any particular analogy between the two posts. I shall be interested to have Sir Howard's views on this matter in a few years' time.

Business

Lord Grocott: My Lords, with the leave of the House, we will have two repeated Statements this afternoon. The first, from my noble friend Lady Hollis, will be on occupational and private pensions and the second, when my noble friend Lord McIntosh will again be on his feet, will be on the transport investment plan. In order for the two Statements to run consecutively and so as to ensure that the Commons have finished their first Statement before we try to start our second—I am sure that that makes sense and is precise enough—we anticipate that the Statements will begin at four o'clock.

Licensing Bill [HL]

3.14 p.m.

The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Baroness Blackstone): My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

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Moved, That the House do now again resolve itself into Committee.—(Baroness Blackstone.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (Lord Brabazon of Tara) in the Chair.]

Clause 3 [Licensing authorities]:

Baroness Buscombe moved Amendment No. 66:


    Page 3, line 1, at end insert—


"( ) for purposes of personal licences, the central licensing authority"

The noble Baroness said: In moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 67, 379, 381 and 404.

I begin by putting at rest a few minds in the wider world. This group of amendments relates solely to the administering of personal licences. I stress that because I understand that a frenzy of concern has spread among local authorities and others, who believe, as we do, in local democracy and accountability, that it is Her Majesty's Opposition who wish to centralise the administration of the whole licensing system. Not at all. The premises licences would be within the control of local authorities, unless Clause 8(6) is particularly sinister. However, the administration of personal licences would, we believe, be more sensibly managed by a central system, as was envisaged in the White Paper.

One of the features of individuals who may apply for personal licences is that they can move from place to place. A person may be born in Newcastle but may move to Bournemouth. However, under the Bill, if that person has been granted a personal licence by the local authority in Newcastle and wishes to renew his personal licence, he must apply to the local authority in Newcastle, not that in Bournemouth. The local authority in Newcastle may well have lost touch with this individual and know nothing about him. The chief officer of police in Newcastle may know nothing about that individual but he, not the chief officer of police in Bournemouth, must be notified of the application for the renewal. In other words, the wrong police officer, in our view, is being consulted. The problem arises because of the curious requirement that an application for the renewal of a personal licence must be made to the original licensing authority that granted the personal licence. That makes no sense whatever because the licensing authority that granted the personal licence in the first place and the chief officer of police in that area may have no knowledge of the individual concerned.

We believe that the better solution is for applications to be made to some central authority, such as the Secretary of State herself. She will of course delegate those tasks to officers within her department but it is important there is some central authority that grants those licences in much the same way as driving licences. The Secretary of State can then consult the chief officer of police in the area in which the applicant ordinarily resides.

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The desirability of having a central authority to deal with personal licences has been widely recognised by the industry, police and local authorities. For example, the expenses that local authorities will incur when they undertake the role of licensing authority are already considerable. The setting up of an independent central authority would ease pressure on them as well as providing a more secure and accountable system for the granting of personal licences. The White Paper looked for a central register of licensees. The Bill, however, expects local authorities to administer personal licences, once granted by them throughout their duration, irrespective of where that person subsequently lives and works. Will the Government explain why, when they have been consistently lobbied on this issue and the point seems to me to be only common sense, they have failed to incorporate it into the Bill? I beg to move.


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