Debates between Lord Faulks and Lord Callanan during the 2019 Parliament

Mon 14th Mar 2022

Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Bill

Debate between Lord Faulks and Lord Callanan
Lord Faulks Portrait Lord Faulks (Non-Afl)
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I am very grateful to the noble Lord for giving way. He talks, understandably, about a transition period and the need for everybody to adjust to the new provisions. However, while Ukraine may have come as a surprise, the existence, or likely existence, of this register cannot fall into that category. I am sure the noble Lord would agree with me that anybody who had owned property would have had years to prepare themselves since it was first mentioned in 2016. It was mentioned in the Criminal Finances Act and again in the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act. Why is there so much need for further transition, when anybody would have been aware of these provisions?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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The noble Lord will know from his time in Government that the law officers provide confidential legal advice to Ministers. I can only say to him that I am personally satisfied that this six-month period is appropriate. We are taking a severe step with this legislation; we are retrospectively interfering with property rights. Whether the legislation has been flagged in advance—I think David Cameron first promised it in 2015—does not, as I understand it, alter the legal case that somebody who wished to purchase expensive legal help to challenge the legislation would be able to do so under the Human Rights Act. I can do no more than assure the noble Lord that the officials and I are acting under the legal advice that we have received about the appropriate period. I can assure him that I wish to bring this in as quickly as I can. He will be aware that the Government originally proposed a period of 18 months. Following fairly significant political pressure, we have taken further advice and have managed to reduce it to six months. I am seriously concerned that, if we reduced it further, we could be subject to legal challenge. I am happy to speak to him outside the House.

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Lord Faulks Portrait Lord Faulks (Non-Afl)
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I am sorry, but I had not quite got an answer. I absolutely appreciate the Minister’s sincerity in wanting to get this register ready. My point was that the transition would come as no surprise. His answer—as I understood it—was that the Government are concerned about possible legal action, which is not quite the same thing, because I think he is talking about a possible challenge under Article 1 of Protocol 1 to the European convention. I respectfully suggest to him that lawyers are being extremely cautious about this because, in the circumstances, it would be quite a brave court that would decide that the time allowed for transition was so short that they would be allowed to retain possessions.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I thank the noble Lord for his legal advice; I should not let my prejudices against lawyers get in the way here, but no doubt there are others who one might want to employ who might give a different opinion. All I can say is that we are acting under the advice that we have received. I am told that while people may have had an idea in advance that we would be introduce such legislation, the fact of Parliament actually passing it will, I suspect, be the legal test for when the register starts and when the requirements come into force—whether or not it had been flagged up in advance. However, that would be my opinion as a mere engineer, not a lawyer; I am sure that other opinions are no doubt available.

I turn now to Amendment 92—

Uber: Supreme Court Ruling

Debate between Lord Faulks and Lord Callanan
Monday 1st March 2021

(3 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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As I said, we are committed to considering options to improve clarity on employment status and how best to address that in a post-Covid scenario. However, it is important that we retain the flexible labour market that has served this country so well and has resulted in our unemployment rate being significantly better than that of the rest of Europe.

Lord Faulks Portrait Lord Faulks (Non-Afl) [V]
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My Lords, I too welcome the decision of the Supreme Court. Those who have read the judgment of Lord Justice Leggatt will realise the detail which the court went into in deciding that, whatever the lawyers had devised, the reality of the relationship meant that the Uber drivers were in fact workers. I welcome the news that there is to be legislation, but I suggest that there are some occasions where the courts will have to deal with the reality. Even the best-drafted legislation will have to set out the principles. The courts here were doing precisely what they should do—applying the principles of the Act to the reality on the ground.