Peers call for more time to scrutinise banking reform bill


A Labour peer has called on the government to delay report stage of its banking reform bill, to allow time for better scrutiny of the legislation.

The government wants report stage of the Financial Services (Banking Reform) Bill to begin on 18 November, following the mini-recess.

But Lord McFall said this did not allow sufficient time for peers to consider a vast number of amendments to the bill, and criticised ministers for trying to "rush" the legislation through Parliament.

On 1 October, the government tabled 86 committee-stage amendments to the bill, based on the report of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards.

The former MP who used to chair the Commons Treasury Select Committee said there was "universal dismay in the Parliamentary Banking Commission with the haste with which the government is pushing the report stage for 18 November".

"If we pass this legislation with the present level of complexity and the absence of clarity and coherence then this reform will be next to useless," he argued.

Lord McFall also said Commission member the Most Reverend Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, would not be present for the debate, as he will be attending the Church of England's General Synod.

"Not only is that discourteous...but it doesn't do service to the contribution which the archbishop has made and which he will make to the debates on the floor of the house," Lord McFall suggested.

Calls for a delay were backed by the Labour frontbench, with shadow Lords leader Baroness Royall of Blaisdon asserting that the majority of amendments were "extremely complex" and that more time is needed to consider them before report stage.

Treasury spokesman Lord Newby said the government had followed usual practice in timetabling the bill.

He said report stage should have started on 6 November - two weeks after the conclusion of committee stage - but ministers opted for 18 November instead.

The minister criticised the way Lord McFall went about tabling the amendment "not only minutes before House up on Friday but without first agreeing a slot for the debate with the chief whip, or even consulting her".

But Lord McFall responded that he had been "left in the dark" about the chief whips' negotiations with the "usual channels" regarding the timetabling of the bill.

When asked by Lord Stevenson whether he would be consider changes "at this late stage", Lord Newby replied that the "usual channels are always open".