HC Deb 12 June 1986 vol 99 cc524-5

'The enactments mentioned in Schedule [Disclosure of information] to this Act shall have effect with the amendments there specified (which relate to the circumstances in which information obtained under those enactments may be disclosed).'—[Mr. Howard.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Howard

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this it will be convenient to take Government amendments Nos. 246 to 250 and 274, 275 and 278.

Mr. Howard

The clause and the associated group of amendments relates to the disclosure of information obtained under the Bill or under various existing statutes I shall not detain the House with an exhaustive account of these provisions, but I shall confine myself to outlining some of the main provisions.

Our first aim is to permit financial and company regulators to share information while retaining appropriate protection against undesirable disclosure. We announced on Second Reading that we would bring forward amendments to this end. Amendments to the Banking Act 1979 will be tabled in another place, but our proposals to amend the Insurance Companies Act 1982 and the Companies Act 1985 are set out in this new schedule. It will be possible for information which is restricted under those two Acts to be disclosed in almost any of the circumstances in which information under the Bill may be disclosed by virtue of the gateways set out in clause 149. That will include assisting not only the various regulators under the Bill, but also, for example, the Bank of England and certain overseas regulators.

Information obtained by inspectors appointed under the Companies Act 1985 is not restricted information. That Act expressly permits its disclosure in certain circumstances, but the amendment makes express provision to remove uncertainty about its disclosure in other circumstances. The amendments provide that persons appointed as inspectors may give any information acquired during their investigations to the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of State may direct them to do so. Once the information is in the hands of the Secretary of State, he may disclose in any of the circumstances in which information which is restricted under the Companies Act may be disclosed. This will remove doubt as to whether the Secretary of State may disclose information or unpublished inspectors' reports in circumstances where it is clearly desirable that he should be able to do so.

That is the effect of the provisions in relation to financial and companies regulation. The sharing of information is not intended to extend fully to authorities concerned with other matters, but special provision is required for competition purposes. I shall explain that and other specialised aspects of the clause and associated amendments if asked by any hon. Member.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

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