Lords examines Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill

27 February 2013

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill began report stage in the Lords yesterday (Tuesday 26 February).

Discussion began around the Green Investment Bank, Lord Teverson (Liberal Democrat) proposed Amendment 1, saying: ‘... the purpose of my amendment... was really to make sure that the Green Investment Bank does what it says on the tin. It should invest not only in the individual areas that are listed so comprehensively in Clause 1, the first of which is, “the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions”, which I shall pursue in a moment. It goes on to list, “efficiency in the use of natural resources … natural environment … biodiversity … environmental sustainability”. We could not have a better list of good things for this bank to invest in.’

The amendment was later withdrawn, after the parliamentary under-secretary of state, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, Viscount Younger of Leckie (Conservative) replied, saying: ‘The bank will be a key driver of the transition to a green economy and is already making investments in green infrastructure projects. The bank has already committed more than £400 million to projects across a range of sectors, including waste, non-domestic energy efficiency and offshore wind. These investments are illustrative of the impact we expect the bank to have in the coming years.’ 

The debate moved on to Clause 4, covering financial assistance for the Green Investment Bank. Lord Teverson (Liberal Democrat) put forward Amendment 10, which would allow the bank to borrow from the capital markets from 30 June 2015, he said: ‘For a Green Investment Bank to be able to do what it says that it will do, it must be able to lever, not just now but into the future, sufficient funds to meet the vast requirement for green investment that this country needs. As we know, in the energy sector alone that is some £200 billion in generating capacity and in networks over the next 10 years, though we will hope to reduce that through demand-side reduction. But there is a great task to do.’

Baroness Worthington (Labour) followed, saying: ‘The government’s statistics show that green industries in the UK are bucking the overall trend, showing healthy growth and contributing to the reduction in our balance of trade deficit. The bank could and should be helping to increase this welcome outcome but, apparently in ignorance of this fact, the government have provided it with only a relatively limited amount of starting capital and have explicitly stated that it cannot borrow until an economy-wide criterion is met.’

The amendment was voted on: 186 for and 204 against.

Lord Young of Norwood Green (Labour) then put forward Amendment 23 to Clause 12, which covers the confidentiality of negotiations before termination of employment, he said: ‘... in committee a number of noble Lords expressed our concern about confidentiality in settlement agreements and the inability of these agreements to be raised at an employment tribunal in the future. We felt that this was a totally wrong direction for the government to proceed in. The worst aspect of this would amount to what we consider to be a charter for bullies. As the legislation currently stands... there is no protection.’

Viscount Younger of Leckie (Conservative) responded on behalf of the government, saying: ‘This legislative change builds on an existing system that has been successfully used for many years by many employers. It aims to provide additional certainty to enable a wider range of employers, particularly smaller businesses without in-house HR functions, to use settlement agreements with more confidence and in an appropriate way.’

The amendment went to a vote: 194 voted for and 227 against.

Discussion then moved to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). Lord Whitty (Labour) put forward a number of amendments, saying: ‘Most of this group of amendments are designed to ensure that consumer interest runs through the whole of this part of the bill and the whole of the operations of the new Competition and Markets Authority... the operational requirements placed on the CMA hardly mention consumers. They are not mentioned in Clause 23 on mergers, not in Clause 24 on interim measures, not in Clause 27 on cross-market issues, not in Clause 31 on anti-trust, and so on. After Clause 23, no clause mentions consumers in the main part of the bill.’

On Amendment 40 the House voted 155 for and 178 against.

The next day of report stage will be on Monday 4 March.

Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill summary

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill covers:

  • changes to competition policy and employment law
  • measures for reducing regulation
  • the Green Investment Bank
  • directors’ remuneration
  • rules around copyright and planning.

More about the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill

What is report stage?

Report stage gives all members of the Lords further opportunity to examine and make changes, known as amendments, to a bill.

Report stage usually starts 14 days after committee stage. It can be spread over several days (but usually fewer days than at committee stage).

Before report stage starts, all member's amendments are recorded and published. The day before a report stage debate the amendments are placed in order - a marshalled list.

During report stage detailed line by line examination of the bill continues. Any member of the Lords can take part and votes can take place.

After report stage the bill is reprinted to include all the agreed amendments. The bill then moves to third reading for the final chance for the Lords to debate and amend the bill.

Further information

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