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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The noble Lord is right. I did not answer; I am sorry. We said at Second Reading that we might have between 500 and 600 amendments in Committee. The number will be somewhat lower. The good reason is that we have found ways of turning the figure of between 500 and 600 amendments into a lower number. The bad reason is that some of the amendments are still not ready and will have to be laid at Report stage. It is a serious burden for which we are deeply apologetic.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: It is not just for the purposes of Clause 129. If the noble Lord looks at the other amendments, there are differences but they are all based on the core of the definition which is to be found in Amendment No. 229 in Clause 129.
Lord Hunt of Wirral: I thank the Minister for having already answered the point that I was about to make. In the light of his answer, I am a little concerned about the extension of the definition to persons who have rights or interests which may be adversely affected by the use of services by other persons. That broadens the definition by moving away from some sort of causation to a general adverse effect. That causes me concern. It may well have unintended impact. It may make it necessary for the FSA to broaden the scope of the ombudsman scheme beyond complainants with a contractual customer relationship with the authorised firm to include all third parties such as third parties under motor policies following road traffic accidents. It would extend protection to third parties injured under liability policies. It might extend the definition of customer to those adversely affected by a polluting incident.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The noble Lord was good enough to write giving me notice that he would put down the amendment. However, we saw the amendment only this morning. It is a complicated issue. Perhaps he will allow me to write to him in more detail with the benefit of more reflection.
However, I find the amendment completely incomprehensible. With no disrespect to my noble friend I find the Minister's explanation even more incomprehensible. I cannot understand what is wrong with the Bill as drafted.
I do not want to prolong the debate, but as the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, asked my noble friend to think again, could he persuade those who are advising him to do so, too, in case they got it right the first time?
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Without the amendments, there are different definitions of "consumer" in different parts of the Bill. I do not know where my noble friend looked, but he would have found different definitions in different places.
In Amendment No. 229, the core amendment in the group, the bulk of the explanation is not about who a consumer is--he is a user of services, which no doubt is what my noble friend has been saying for 40 years--but about whose services he uses. As the Bill is all about authorised and unauthorised persons, trustees and people carrying on financial services as representatives of someone else, it is important to be precise about the definition of the providers of the services. That is why, unfortunately, there are still differences between the definition of "consumer" in different parts of the Bill. At least they are all referenced to and rooted in Amendment No. 229.
Lord Elton: I am sure that we all recognise the Government's difficulty when faced with amendments which they have only recently seen. The Minister will realise that from time to time Members of the Committee are in a similar difficulty. Therefore, he will forgive me if I ask whether in advance of his correspondence he could expand on his reply to my noble friend Lord Hunt. Presumably, the issue is simple for him to explain, but not so simple for me to understand.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Elton, for his consideration. Rather than attempt to reach a final conclusion on an amendment that has been available for only a few hours, it is better to include the noble Lord in my correspondence with the noble Lord, Lord Hunt. Indeed, if a meeting is desirable, I shall be only too happy to meet them and anyone else concerned.
Lord Kingsland: As the Minister proposed to take my noble friend's amendment away and subject it to a certain degree of textual exegesis, perhaps I may add one or two reflections from the Front Bench on Amendment No. 229. It adds three subsections to Clause 129. The government amendments propose that the definition of "consumer" in Clauses 5(3), 9(7) and 12(5) would be replaced by reference to the definition in new subsection (7) in Clause 129.
We are happy with new subsection (8) and, I think, new subsection (9), although it may need consideration should occupational pensions be brought within the scope of the legislation. However, we share the concern of my noble friend Lord Hunt about the effect of new subsection (7)(b)(ii). That paragraph extends the definition to persons,
Surely, the real problem is that there is no nexus, no contact, between authorised firms and the persons covered by Clause 129(7)(b)(ii). For example, the new definition of "consumer" is used in Clause 177(2)(b), which deals with the approval requirements which the FSA must assess when considering whether to object to the acquisition of control of an authorised firm. It would seem that under the definition in Clause 129(7)(b)(ii), the authority is obliged to consider the position of persons who have rights or interests which may be adversely affected by the use by other persons of the service which the authorised firm provides. It is
I realise that giving one example might not satisfy the noble Lord on the general principle, but I repeat what I said to the noble Lord, Lord Hunt: we shall look again at the scope of Clause 129 to see whether there is a danger that it might be interpreted too widely. We shall consult before deciding what to do, if anything, at a later stage.
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