Debates between Baroness Noakes and Lord Russell of Liverpool during the 2019 Parliament

Mon 15th Nov 2021
Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill
Lords Chamber

Lords Hansard - Part 2 & Committee stage: Part 2
Wed 9th Jun 2021
Professional Qualifications Bill [HL]
Lords Chamber

Committee stage & Committee stage
Mon 1st Mar 2021

Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

Debate between Baroness Noakes and Lord Russell of Liverpool
Lord Russell of Liverpool Portrait Lord Russell of Liverpool (CB)
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I think I was quoting from the Equality Act, but if I was not—the noble Lord here says I was right, so if one looks at the Equality Act and the protected characteristics, that is one of them. If I am wrong, I apologise in advance.

Baroness Noakes Portrait Baroness Noakes (Con)
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The noble Baroness, Lady Falkner of Margravine, is no longer in her place. Gender is not a protected characteristic under the equality legislation. Gender reassignment is.

Professional Qualifications Bill [HL]

Debate between Baroness Noakes and Lord Russell of Liverpool
Baroness Noakes Portrait Baroness Noakes (Con)
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My Lords, on the face of it, Clause 1 does seem innocuous, but at its heart there is a power for the Government to interfere in the way that regulated professions recognise people who have qualified abroad. I am far from clear that a case has been made for government intervention. I have not seen any evidence of the regulated professions dragging their feet when it comes to recognising overseas professionals. I recognise that our country has a demand for some professionals, notably those related to healthcare, which may well outstrip the numbers who qualify here, but there is still a big step before saying our UK professions need the Government to tell them what to do.

I have no problem with giving the regulators additional powers if their current rules make it difficult to accommodate the recognition of overseas professionals and they need legislation to change that—but that is not what this clause is about. The clause covers many regulated professions that already have effective provisions for the recognition of overseas applicants, but the Government have not excluded them from the scope of Clause 1. I believe the clause would be better expressed in terms of a power to be exercised by the Government at the request of regulated professions or with their consent. The Government do not know best when it comes to the professions, but the Bill does seem to be predicated on that belief. I hope it is not too late to reshape how this Bill interacts with regulated professions.

Lord Russell of Liverpool Portrait The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Russell of Liverpool) (CB)
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The noble Baroness, Lady Bennett of Manor Castle, has withdrawn from this group, so I call the noble Lord, Lord Fox.

Financial Services Bill

Debate between Baroness Noakes and Lord Russell of Liverpool
Lord Russell of Liverpool Portrait The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Russell of Liverpool) (CB)
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The noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, has withdrawn from this group, so I call the next speaker, the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes.

Baroness Noakes Portrait Baroness Noakes (Con)
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My Lords, various amendments in this group address different aspects of small and medium-sized banks and other financial institutions, and I am not opposed to having more and different banks in the financial system. Indeed, anyone who has had a bad customer experience with one of the major banks, as I have in the past year, supports more competition and choice. However, I sound a note of caution: we have to be very careful not to send the regulators down a path that could lead to poorer outcomes for consumers.

I am always reminded of the history of building societies, the number of which has shrunk dramatically over the past 100 years or so. These were often small and regionally based, and the numbers have reduced for two main reasons. One reason for this was obviously the liberalisation measures which allowed a number of them to demutualise—one of the more recent trends—but, over time, the other reason was that these were small organisations which were often not managed particularly well and had insufficient financial resilience, and they often had to effectively sell themselves to other building societies in order to protect members when things went wrong.

Against that background, regional banks, as suggested in Amendment 126 in the name of my noble friend Lord Holmes of Richmond, are, in my view, unlikely to be a panacea. It is less than clear that the failure of a regional bank could easily be prevented in the current regulatory environment. I do not oppose the report that he suggests but I am a bit of a cynic when it comes to seeing that as a useful way forward.

I particularly want to speak to Amendment 91 in this group, in which the noble Baroness, Lady Kramer, has suggested restricting access to the term funding scheme if it is not then available for onlending to other banks and providers of finance. I accept that there may be an element of protectionism in the large banks that have access to the term funding scheme not wanting to share that advantage source of finance with other lending institutions. But the scheme suggested by the noble Baroness, Lady Kramer, would require the major banks to accept the credit risk of dealing with these smaller organisations without any ability to price for that risk. These organisations often struggle to raise equity capital, for good reason: they carry higher risk, they are often not profitable, and they do not all survive.

It seems to me that if the Government think it is a good idea to fund more lenders at preferential rates in order to fund the various lending schemes that have been introduced, they should instruct the Bank of England to vary its lending criteria for the term funding scheme. At the moment, it is restricted to those with access to the discount window facility. It would not take too much to get that changed, without trying to distort the lending decisions of the major banks. If the Bank of England were unwilling to assume that risk itself, it would be open to the Treasury to underwrite it for the Bank, without distorting the decisions made by the banks that do take term funding scheme finance.