HL Deb 29 July 2002 vol 638 cc672-3

2.52 p.m.

Lord Sharman

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper. In so doing, I declare an interest as a paid adviser to KPMG.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make representations to the United States government to limit the extraterritorial effect of Senator Sarbane's Bill regarding the regulation of auditors.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)

My Lords, high-level representations were made to the United States Government about the extra-territorial effect of the proposed Sarbane bill by the United Kingdom Government and by the European Commission. The Accounting Bill, which combines elements of both the Sarbane and the Oxley Bills, is expected to be signed by President Bush this week. We believe that our lobbying has had some success, but concerns about the legislation remain. We are therefore continuing to pursue these matters at national and European level with the US administration.

Lord Sharman

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that very helpful reply. Does he agree, however, that the proven system of regulation in operation in the banking industry—so-called host country regulation—is much preferable to the extra-territorial application of any state's legislation?

Lord Sainsbury of Turville

My Lords, without wishing to give a definitive view about the Government's approach to international regulatory matters, I should say that we do not want to see extra regulatory burdens piled on British companies. In particular, we do not want an additional layer of regulatory burden to be placed on UK audit firms which are already subject to an extensive regulatory regime in the UK.