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19 Feb 2008 : Column 166
4.5 pm

Mr. William Cash (Stone) (Con): I endorse what my hon. Friend the Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood) said. The question before us is very simple. The Bill does not have the urgency that the Government seem to claim for it by the means of its introduction, but they are railroading a series of parliamentary conventions. In introducing retrospective legislation, the Government are in fact trying to avoid the prospect of introducing a hybrid Bill by transferring the provisions over to a hybrid instrument—if that is what it turns out to be—while dealing with the matter in a way that will bypass the courts if they can possibly get away with it.

All those are matters that require proper consideration in themselves. It is absolutely and abundantly clear that House procedures and conventions on taxation are being overridden by the way that the Government are proceeding. By denying this House and thereby the people affected in the country through the methods that they are employing, all the Government are doing are bringing themselves into total contempt.

4.7 pm

Yvette Cooper: Let me respond briefly to the points that have been raised, which I have listened to very carefully. The hon. Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr. Hammond) made points that should really be raised on Second Reading. He will have the opportunity to raise them then.

I hope that hon. Members will recognise that the Bill is being introduced in very unusual circumstances. It will allow us to deal swiftly, by order, with the position of Northern Rock, and it is right that we are able to do so. Northern Rock shares were suspended yesterday morning, and it is a bank that has faced a series of problems with implications for the financial stability of the banking system. It is also a bank in which the taxpayer has an important and legitimate interest, so it is right that the circumstances surrounding this bank should be resolved as swiftly as possible. Those in the bank, creditors, depositors and so on should have certainty and clarity about who the shareholders are and what the direction of the bank should be. It is important to resolve those issues as swiftly as possible, so I hope that hon. Members will recognise these unusual circumstances and understand that the House needs to respond to them. We need to respond swiftly, now that shares have been withdrawn, in order to be able to put the bank on a proper longer-term footing as rapidly as possible.

Finally, the hon. Member for Runnymede and Weybridge effectively asked for a hybrid Bill to deal just with the circumstances of Northern Rock. Any hon. Member who sat on the Committee considering the Crossrail Bill—our most recent hybrid Bill—would not regard it as a Bill that came through the House rapidly to deal with problems that needed to be addressed rapidly.

I hope that hon. Members will take this issue seriously and bear in mind that there is a sunset clause on the main powers in the Bill and that we will have an
19 Feb 2008 : Column 167
opportunity to debate at great length in the usual way the proper reforms that will be made to the banking system. We shall do so in the proper way through the revised Bill that will replace these powers. I support the motion.

Question put:—

The House divided: Ayes 291, Noes 223.
Division No. 80]
[4.9 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Anderson, Mr. David
Anderson, Janet
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian
Austin, John
Baird, Vera
Balls, rh Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Sir Stuart
Benn, rh Hilary
Benton, Mr. Joe
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Blunkett, rh Mr. David
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, rh Des
Bryant, Chris
Burden, Richard
Burnham, rh Andy
Byrne, Mr. Liam
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Caton, Mr. Martin
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben
Chaytor, Mr. David
Clark, Ms Katy
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clelland, Mr. David
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, rh Yvette
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cousins, Jim
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs. Claire
Darling, rh Mr. Alistair
David, Mr. Wayne
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Davies, Mr. Dai
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, Mr. David
Durkan, Mark
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Etherington, Bill
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Fisher, Mark
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, rh Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Mr. Tom
Havard, Mr. Dai
Healey, John
Henderson, Mr. Doug
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen

Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Irranca-Davies, Huw
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Jowell, rh Tessa
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kelly, rh Ruth
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Kennedy, rh Jane
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Knight, Jim
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Mactaggart, Fiona
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall, Mr. David
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Chris
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McCartney, rh Mr. Ian
McDonnell, John
McFadden, Mr. Pat
McFall, rh John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGuire, Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, rh Mr. Tony
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael
Meale, Mr. Alan
Michael, rh Alun
Miliband, rh David
Miliband, rh Edward
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Mr. Austin
Moffat, Anne
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moran, Margaret
Morden, Jessica
Morgan, Julie
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, Mr. George
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, Mr. Jim
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Olner, Mr. Bill
Owen, Albert
Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Purnell, rh James
Rammell, Bill
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Reid, rh John
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Roy, Mr. Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Christine
Ryan, rh Joan
Salter, Martin
Seabeck, Alison
Sharma, Mr. Virendra
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine
Smith, rh Jacqui
Smith, John
Snelgrove, Anne

Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Vaz, rh Keith
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Watson, Mr. Tom
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Wills, Mr. Michael
Wilson, Phil
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Woodward, rh Mr. Shaun
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wyatt, Derek
Tellers for the Ayes:

Siobhain McDonagh and
Mr. Dave Watts

Afriyie, Adam
Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Alexander, Danny
Amess, Mr. David
Ancram, rh Mr. Michael
Arbuthnot, rh Mr. James
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Baker, Norman
Baldry, Tony
Barker, Gregory
Baron, Mr. John
Barrett, John
Beith, rh Mr. Alan
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Bone, Mr. Peter
Boswell, Mr. Tim
Bottomley, Peter
Brady, Mr. Graham
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Breed, Mr. Colin
Brokenshire, James
Brooke, Annette
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Browning, Angela
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Burt, Alistair
Burt, Lorely
Butterfill, Sir John
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Cameron, rh Mr. David
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Cash, Mr. William
Chope, Mr. Christopher
Clappison, Mr. James
Clark, Greg
Clarke, rh Mr. Kenneth
Clegg, rh Mr. Nick
Clifton-Brown, Mr. Geoffrey
Cox, Mr. Geoffrey
Curry, rh Mr. David
Davey, Mr. Edward
Davies, David T.C. (Monmouth)
Davies, Philip
Davis, rh David (Haltemprice and Howden)
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dorrell, rh Mr. Stephen
Duncan, Alan
Duncan Smith, rh Mr. Iain
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Evennett, Mr. David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Farron, Tim
Featherstone, Lynne
Field, Mr. Mark
Foster, Mr. Don
Fox, Dr. Liam
Francois, Mr. Mark
Fraser, Mr. Christopher
Gale, Mr. Roger
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gauke, Mr. David
George, Andrew
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Gidley, Sandra
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Goldsworthy, Julia
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gray, Mr. James
Grayling, Chris
Greening, Justine
Greenway, Mr. John
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Gummer, rh Mr. John
Hague, rh Mr. William
Hammond, Mr. Philip
Hammond, Stephen
Hancock, Mr. Mike
Hands, Mr. Greg
Harper, Mr. Mark
Harris, Dr. Evan
Harvey, Nick
Hayes, Mr. John
Heald, Mr. Oliver

Heath, Mr. David
Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Hemming, John
Hendry, Charles
Herbert, Nick
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holloway, Mr. Adam
Horam, Mr. John
Horwood, Martin
Hosie, Stewart
Howarth, David
Howarth, Mr. Gerald
Hughes, Simon
Hunter, Mark
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Jones, Mr. David
Kawczynski, Daniel
Keetch, Mr. Paul
Key, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Kramer, Susan
Laing, Mrs. Eleanor
Lamb, Norman
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Laws, Mr. David
Leech, Mr. John
Leigh, Mr. Edward
Letwin, rh Mr. Oliver
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Lidington, Mr. David
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
MacNeil, Mr. Angus
Main, Anne
Malins, Mr. Humfrey
Maples, Mr. John
Maude, rh Mr. Francis
May, rh Mrs. Theresa
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Mercer, Patrick
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Milton, Anne
Mitchell, Mr. Andrew
Moore, Mr. Michael
Moss, Mr. Malcolm
Mulholland, Greg
Mundell, David
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Neill, Robert
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Oaten, Mr. Mark
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, Mr. George
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, Mr. James
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Pickles, Mr. Eric
Price, Adam
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Pritchard, Mark
Pugh, Dr. John
Randall, Mr. John
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Rennie, Willie
Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Angus
Robertson, Hugh
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Ruffley, Mr. David
Russell, Bob
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Scott, Mr. Lee
Selous, Andrew
Shapps, Grant
Shepherd, Mr. Richard
Short, rh Clare
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Mr. Keith
Smith, Sir Robert
Soames, Mr. Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs. Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Mr. Richard
Steen, Mr. Anthony
Streeter, Mr. Gary
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Swinson, Jo
Swire, Mr. Hugo
Syms, Mr. Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Thurso, John
Tredinnick, David
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Vaizey, Mr. Edward
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Walker, Mr. Charles
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Webb, Steve
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, Mr. David
Williams, Hywel
Williams, Mark
Williams, Mr. Roger
Williams, Stephen
Willis, Mr. Phil
Willott, Jenny
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Winterton, Ann
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Wishart, Pete
Young, rh Sir George
Younger-Ross, Richard
Tellers for the Noes:

Jeremy Wright and
James Duddridge
Question accordingly agreed to.
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19 Feb 2008 : Column 169

19 Feb 2008 : Column 170

19 Feb 2008 : Column 171

Orders of the Day

Banking (Special Provisions) Bill

[Relevant document: The Fifth Report from the Treasury Committee of Session 2007-08, The run on the Rock, HC 56.]

Order for Second Reading read.

4.23 pm

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Alistair Darling): I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

As the House knows, the powers in this Bill are necessary to take Northern Rock into a period of temporary public ownership and the Bill is a general one. The reason for its being general is that it contains provisions that could be applicable in other circumstances, but I made it clear yesterday, and I make it clear today, that it is being introduced now only because there is a need to enable the Government to take Northern Rock into that temporary period of public ownership and it is essential that we proceed quickly.

The hon. Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr. Hammond) asked why the Bill was urgent. I listened to the Opposition complaining yesterday that we should have introduced this legislation some time ago, so for them now to say that it is not urgent and that we do not need to make any haste seems complete nonsense, although it is in line with the attitude that they have taken on every other aspect of Northern Rock so far.

It is an obvious point, but now that the Government have made their intentions clear, it is important that legal ownership and certainty of authority is given to the board as quickly as possible, which is why we need Royal Assent to the Bill—[Hon. Members: “Why?”] It is because it is impossible to run a bank, let alone any other company, unless it is clear who is in charge of that bank and who is running it— [ Interruption. ]

Mr. Speaker: Order. Hon. Members must not shout.

Mr. Darling: Shouting is all they are good for at the moment: they certainly have not come up with any good ideas.

Several hon. Members rose—

Mr. Darling: I will, as I usually do, give way to as many Members as possible, but because this is a timetabled debate I intend to make progress so as not to detain the House too long.

Mr. John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): Can the Chancellor give us an indication of how long it will take to value the bank and therefore how long it will take to transfer the shares if the Bill goes through this week?

Mr. Darling: If the Bill is approved, the necessary order will be laid to make that transfer. As I shall say when we reach the relevant part, the Bill makes provision for compensation to shareholders under the terms and conditions that I made clear. In addition, the timing is clearly laid out.

19 Feb 2008 : Column 172

Mr. William Cash (Stone) (Con): Will the Chancellor deny that in clause 2 there is an attempt to override challenge in the courts? The provision that “it be” necessary for the Treasury to take certain actions seems to be an attempt to bypass the courts. Does he agree?

Mr. Darling: No, I do not.

The hon. Member for Runnymede and Weybridge also made the point that the Government are consulting on longer-term legislation to make more substantial reforms to the banking system, and I believe that that has general support in the House. We are consulting on that because it is important that we get the detail right. Legislation will be introduced thereafter. Some clauses may be closely followed in that future legislation, and they are necessary not only to allow us to acquire the shares in the bank, but to deal with it after acquisition, with a view to returning it to the private sector.

Stewart Hosie (Dundee, East) (SNP): The Chancellor makes the point about consultation on changes to the banking regulatory framework generally. He has said that that would require primary legislation and take some months. Does he not think that it is odd that we will nationalise Northern Rock if this Bill is passed in the next few days, but the framework that allowed its collapse is still in place? Should he not have taken emergency measures to bring forward more quickly the changes to the banking regulatory framework, perhaps at the same time as this legislation?

Mr. Darling: If I had included in this Bill legislation to amend the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, it would have been a formidable Bill indeed, because that is a very long piece of legislation. It is important that we continue with the consultation that we launched in January on some of the more far-reaching and radical reforms to the regulatory and supervisory system of banks and other financial institutions, with a view to introducing legislation in the remaining part of this parliamentary Session, so that we can get it onto the statute book as soon as possible. Today’s legislation, which is being introduced now because of the particular circumstances that we face, is necessary, as I hope to be able to demonstrate when I get to the detail of the provisions. I wish to say a word about competition, because that issue has been raised by Members on both sides of the House, and it is a perfectly legitimate concern.

Mr. Philip Dunne (Ludlow) (Con): The Chancellor has just referred to the consultation document that he published only last month, which referred to the Government’s proposals to bring forward legislation after consultation to cope with financial stability. What perplexes Opposition Members and those watching from outside the House is that the legislation that we are discussing, particularly clause 2(2), covers the maintenance of stability in the UK financial system. It goes far wider than the narrow issue of Northern Rock. Is that not in direct conflict with the document that he published last month, which will require extensive public consultation?

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