HL Deb 13 December 1994 vol 559 cc1195-6

2.48 p.m.

Lord Merrivale asked Her Majesty's Government:

When Gibraltar will be added to the list of countries and territories quoted in Part II of the Building Societies (Designation of Qualifying Bodies) (No. 2) Order (S.I. No. 989) empowered to form a body corporate or Mortgage Indemnity Insurance Captive.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Henley)

My Lords, my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will consider this issue further when all the provisions of Gibraltar's amended Financial Services Commission Ordinance are fully in operation.

Lord Merrivale

My Lords, I thank my noble friend the Minister for his reply. Is it not a fact that the Gibraltar financial services legislation has been amended; that the Chancellor informed the Chief Minister in May that there would be four United Kingdom and three Gibraltarian members of the commission and that Her Majesty's Government appointed the commissioner on 25th July? Therefore, why is it that the assurances given to the Chief Minister in February in London have not yet been implemented?

Lord Henley

My Lords, my right honourable friend the Chancellor applied two conditions. The first was the passage of the amended Financial Services Commission Ordinance and the second was that the commission and the commissioner were operating effectively in accordance with the provisions. The first condition has now been met but we still need to see evidence that the second condition is being fulfilled. I say to my noble friend that they have not yet appointed banking or insurance supervisors. We want to see all of them in place in the commission and be sure that they were operating effectively before my right honourable friend gives the go ahead.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, can my noble friend indicate that Her Majesty's Government have great respect for the way in which the Gibraltar Government carry on and will help them to achieve this freedom?

Lord Henley

My Lords, I can certainly give my noble friend the assurance that we have great respect for the way in which the Gibraltar Government operate. However, although we can provide a certain amount of help, it is now for the Gibraltar authorities to get the right people in place and to show that they can operate the appropriate procedures correctly.

Lord Merrivale

My Lords, with the leave of the House perhaps I may ask a further question. What is the present attitude of the Building Societies Commission to this issue? It is difficult to see why Gibraltar should be excluded from the list of territories and countries in which a body corporate or MIIC can be formed when, for instance, Lichtenstein, Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney are included.

Lord Henley

My Lords, I cannot speak for the Building Societies Commission; I can speak only for Her Majesty's Government. I can assure my noble friend that he is incorrect in that Lichtenstein is not included. My right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has applied two conditions to the Gibraltar authorities. As I said, they have met one of them but not the other. If they can meet the other condition, my right honourable friend will then consider the matter further.