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Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. There is a great deal of private conversation in the Chamber and beyond the Bar of the House. Perhaps hon. Members will come to order and allow the right hon. Gentleman to continue.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: Clause 372 goes wider than any of the powers available to Henry VIII. It is important that the House wakes up to the potential for, if not abuse, at least the possibility that this primary legislation could be altered by orders and statutory instruments in a way that goes entirely unscrutinised.

New clause 1 makes it clear that orders must not restrict competition beyond protecting consumers or pursuing the Bill's other objectives. That would be a useful counterbalance to the inevitable tendency of all regulators to over-regulate and of all regulatory systems to end up with excessive costs and regulation. The Government were reluctant to accept any of our earlier amendments for elevating competition to one of the Bill's objectives. This proposal is a useful alternative and I commend it to the House.

Mr. Timms: I understand the thinking behind new clause 1 and have some sympathy with what it seeks

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to achieve. It is certainly not our practice or intention to make regulations that would in any way damage competition, competitiveness or innovation.

There are a number of difficulties with new clause 1. At the heart of the problem is that its effect could not be determined until the Bill's powers were exercised. The European Union has some jurisdiction over matters covered by the Bill. Much of the Bill, to a greater or lesser extent, delivers on or is constrained by EU directives and treaties. We are required, for example, to bring within the scope of regulation any activities covered by insurance directives--life and non-life--that are undertaken by qualifying institutions. The same is true of investment and banking. We have no choice in the matter, so the new clause could cause difficulties.

Another example is where the purpose of the regulations might not properly be described as protecting consumers or maintaining confidence, but there was some other good reason for proceeding. The most obvious example is exercising powers in a way consistent with the FSA's objectives under the Bill that would prevent financial services business in the UK being used in connection with financial crime. That is not provided for in the new clause.

The right hon. Member for Wells (Mr. Heathcoat- Amory) referred to the breadth of clause 372, but his fears are not well founded. It is clear that the power is to make

to deal with minor things where it is necessary or expedient for the purposes of the Bill, or to give effect to it. I do not agree that Henry VIII would have been envious of that power, as the right hon. Gentleman suggested.

Mr. Tyrie: Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Timms: No, I must press on.

I hope that I have been able to set out some of the difficulties with the Opposition's proposal. The Bill has been carefully formulated to ensure that the extent of the Treasury's powers is clear. It is not our intention to impose any more burdens on firms than is necessary, and wherever possible, we consult on proposals to make regulations so that those affected by them have an opportunity to comment on and influence them. The powers in the Bill are no different from the order and regulation powers under any other Act of Parliament, and I hope that that gives Opposition Members the reassurances that they seek.

Mr. Flight: The House may not be aware that the Bill, which proposes to set up and empower the FSA, reserves important powers to the Treasury--the most important, perhaps, is designating what are to be authorised and regulated activities. However, the Treasury's powers to exempt matters concerning promotion will be important.

We have looked at how the Treasury powers interrelate to the objectives and principles of the Bill. Clause 1 has been worded so as to pick up the relevant references, and it deals, quite appropriately, with the principles of not damaging competition or innovation. Competition is defined as both domestic competition and international competitiveness, and the Bill picks up the key objectives where the Treasury has power.

We do not accept the Minister's argument concerning technical difficulties with subjecting the Treasury to the same basic objectives and principles relevant to

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its powers, as those objectives and principles apply to the FSA. If the Minister has sympathy with the objectives, what other proposals do the Government have to address them? As things stand--particularly where items of secondary legislation are dealt with by negative resolution, rather than positive affirmation--there is no guarantee that what the Treasury does will stick within the objectives and principles.

The amendment proposes essentially to apply the terms of clause 1 to the Henry VIII clause--which, to some extent, may limit its powers, but would tie the two together. We feel that that would address some incomplete business within the Bill, which is unsatisfactory without it. The Government have come up with no other method of tying the Treasury in with the rest of the Bill. However, this is not a matter that we would wish to put to a vote. Rather, we would hope to see what the other place could do to tie in the matter in a way that the Government would find acceptable.

Unless the matter is addressed, the two matters do not tie together--we have the FSA bound by relevant objectives and principles, while the Treasury is not so bound.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Does the right hon. Gentleman wish to withdraw the motion?

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.

Motion and clause, by leave withdrawn.

Further consideration adjourned.--[Mr. Sutcliffe.]

Bill, as amended in the Standing Committee, to be further considered tomorrow.

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Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael J. Martin): With permission, I shall put together the motions relating to delegated legislation.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(6) (Standing Committees on Delegated Legislation),

Local Government Finance

    That the draft Local Government Best Value (Exemption) (England) Order 2000, which was laid before this House on 11th January, be approved.--[Mr. Sutcliffe.]

Question agreed to.



"(4A) Any member of the Chairmen's Panel may also take the chair at a sitting in Westminster Hall when so requested by the Chairman of Ways and Means, with the duties and powers conferred by that order on additional Deputy Speakers; and Members so appointed shall be addressed by name."--[Mr. Sutcliffe.]

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Police Complaints (Civilian Employees)

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.--[Mr. Sutcliffe.]

6.56 pm

Sir John Stanley (Tonbridge and Malling): As the House knows, there are two separate systems for the investigation of complaints against the police by members of the public. If the complaint is against a uniformed police officer, the statutory police complaints procedure comes into operation with independent supervision provided by the Police Complaints Authority. However, if the complaint involves a civilian employee of a police force--though the complaint will be investigated through the internal procedures of the police force in question--there is no statutory procedure and no statutory independent supervision. The fact that two separate systems run together can lead to serious shortcomings for members of the public. Such serious shortcomings have been graphically revealed in the tragic circumstances of my constituent, Mrs. Alexander.

On 20 July 1998, Mrs. Alexander's husband was a passenger in a car that went off the road, smashed through railings and ended up in a field. Mr. Alexander tragically died from the injuries that he sustained in the accident. Thames Valley police, in whose area the accident occurred, carried out its usual full investigation and submitted its report to the Crown Prosecution Service in November of that year. There was no other vehicle involved in the accident, and because of the death of Mr. Alexander and the absence of any other independent witness, the Crown Prosecution Service concluded that the only charge that it could make against the driver of the car in which Mr. Alexander had been a passenger was that of driving without due care and attention. That was the only charge that it judged to have a reasonable prospect of a conviction.

Under current legislation, a summons for driving without due care and attention must be served within six months of the date of the offence. As the then Attorney- General, Sir John Morris, confirmed to me, there is no provision in current legislation for extending the six-month deadline in any circumstances, however extenuating. That is a matter that the Government should reconsider in the light of Mrs. Alexander's case and perhaps of others.

With the accident occurring on 20 July 1998, the Thames Valley police had until 20 January 1999 to serve the summons. As the then Attorney-General informed me, the Crown Prosecution Service notified Thames Valley police of its decision to prosecute the driver for driving without due care and attention on 10 December 1998. That decision was further confirmed orally by the CPS to the Thames Valley police on 18 December of that year. However, by the time the file returned--

It being Seven o'clock, the motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now Adjourn.--[Mr. Sutcliffe.]

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