HC Deb 20 April 1998 vol 310 cc527-8

Lords amendment: No. 11, in page 29, line 22, leave out ("paragraphs 31 and") and insert ("paragraph")

Mrs. Liddell

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this it will be convenient to discuss Lords amendments Nos. 12 to 16.

Mrs. Liddell

This is a group of six technical amendments. Amendment No. 11 tidies up the consequential amendment contained in schedule 5. Amendments Nos. 12, 13 and 16 would ensure that consequential changes to the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990 are accurate. Amendment No. 14 is required to make a consequential amendment to the Building Societies Act 1997. It arises because of the transfer of banking supervision to the Financial Services Authority. Amendment No. 15 would remove some redundant definitions from the Bill. I commend the amendments to the House.

Mr. Fallon

I want briefly to raise two issues. The Economic Secretary described the amendments as technical. Amendment No. 14 is not that technical. As I understand it, it replaces the Bank of England with the Financial Services Authority as the consultative body if any amalgamation is proposed to the Building Societies Investor Protection Board and the Deposit Protection Board. It might assist the House if the hon. Lady said whether that is the Government's immediate intention—is an amalgamation proposed?

I put the hon. Lady on notice that we will need to go into greater detail on the role of the Financial Services Authority as it relates to building societies more generally. While we were all on holiday, the Treasury slipped out an announcement about a voluntary code, which ensures that generally building societies will not be brought under the arrangements for the new authority.

Perhaps the hon. Lady could help the House on amendment No. 15, which would delete the words "overseas institution" and "representative office". The other place was told that the words were no longer needed in the Bill, because they had no operative effect, yet they are still in paragraph 1 of schedule 8. Perhaps the Economic Secretary could explain why, if they have no operative effect, they are still in the Bill.

Mrs. Liddell

The Building Societies Act 1997, which went through with the co-operation of both sides of the House, makes provision for a future amalgamation of the Building Societies Investor Protection Board with the Deposit Protection Board. Provision is made for consultation with the Building Societies Commission and the Bank before making any order effective. It will be for the Governor of the Bank to appoint ordinary members of the new board. Therefore, it is sensible to make consequential amendments that draw together the reality of the Financial Services Authority in relation to building societies.

There was no question of the Government sneaking out a voluntary code on building societies—it was introduced by the Council of Mortgage Lenders last July. We merely made an announcement that we would see how it operated before deciding whether the future financial services legislation would contain such a provision. I hope that it is clear that in no sense did the Government try to sneak through a critical measure while the House was in recess. Indeed, the announcement was made before the House rose—although some people may have risen slightly earlier than others.

On amendment No. 15, as the hon. Gentleman said, the words "overseas institution" and "representative office" have no operative effect, so there is no need to define them. The amendment would remove their definitions from the Bill.

Lords amendment agreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 12 to 16 agreed to.

Committee appointed to draw up a Reason to be assigned to the Lords for disagreeing to their amendment No. 5 to the Bill: Mr. Robert Ainsworth, Mr. Michael Fallon, Mr. David Hanson, Mr. John Whittingdale and Mrs. Helen Liddell; Three to be the quorum of the Committee.—[Mrs. Liddell.]

To withdraw immediately.

Reason for disagreeing to Lords amendment No. 5 reported, and agreed to; to be communicated to the Lords.