HC Deb 28 March 1984 vol 57 cc281-2
10. Mr. Silvester

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry why he will not make a statement on the recommendations of the Gower report on investor protection before 30 April.

Mr. Tebbit

The report is open for comment until 30 April, and I prefer to consider the comments made before rather than after making any statement.

Mr. Silvester

I agree with that general proposition. Can my right hon. Friend confirm that the large number of interests involved in this exercise will not lead to any delay in implementing the report? Has my right hon. Friend not yet ruled out the possibility of including the necessary legislation in the next Queen's Speech?

Mr. Tebbit

I, too, shall refrain from pre-empting what may or may not be contained in the Queen's Speech. I have not yet made decisions on the Gower report. I have asked all those involved to consider Professor Gower's proposal in a constructive and positive spirit. I have said that his proposals may show a way forward, but there is a good way to go yet before we reach our conclusions.

Mr. McCrindle

But is it not more likely that, after receiving the representations that the Government have asked for by 30 April, they will wish to issue a White Paper setting out their own broad lines of thought? As that White Paper is unlikely to be produced until later in the year, the balance of probability is that legislation will not come before the House until the 1985–86 Session.

Mr. Tebbit

My hon. Friend rightly points to some of the constraints that would be upon us in attempting to legislate in haste.

Mr. Gould

Having, perhaps unwittingly, unleashed the rapid, wide-ranging and unpredictable change in the financial institutions, which no doubt the right hon. Gentleman and the City both sought to avoid, how much loger can he leave the chaos and confusion to voluntary regulation, which can only work, if at all, if there is much more stability? Is there not an immediate need for action on the Gower report?

Mr. Tebbit

I think that the hon. Gentleman would do well to learn from the supplementary question of my hon. Friend the Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. McCrindle). Surely he does not expect us to rush into legislation on such matters without due thought and proper consultation. His trouble is that he is more surprised than anyone by the extent of the changes that are taking place in the City. When my right hon. Friend the Member for Hertsmere (Mr. Parkinson) announced the proposals that led to the withdrawal of the Stock Exchange case from the courts, the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues sneered and said that it was a fix-up. They claimed that we were doing a favour to our friends in the City to prevent any change. The hon. Gentleman was wrong then, he is wrong now and he will probably be wrong for the rest of his life.