That contentious business is behind us now, though, and we’ve moved on to some mere tidying-up at the end. It’s all pretty dry stuff.
Lord Bridges of Headley: My Lords, the amendments in this group are being made to correct an error made in the National Savings Regulations 2015. Those regulations revoked a number of statutory instruments with effect from 6 April 2015. By mistake, these included the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Consequential Amendments and Repeals) Order 2001, which I will refer to as the 2001 order. The 2001 order, which was revoked, was used to make most of the consequential amendments and repeals that were required to give effect to the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. It amended a range of primary and secondary legislation, including the Companies Acts, the Bank of England Act 1998, the Building Societies Act 1986, the Pensions Acts and other legislation related to financial services. In some cases, the amendments made by the 2001 order have been superseded by subsequent legislative developments, but in many cases they are still necessary, and the repeal of the instrument making them has left the law in a state of considerable uncertainty.
Wait, what? The department, like every other, had been tasked with binning as much previous footling legislation as possible. In its eagerness to do so, it overlooked the fact that one of the orders it was wiping out actually made some important changes to central legislation, which therefore—technically—immediately snapped back to its original state, where it has remained since April. Myriad legalistic horrors rear up at that point, with people and organisations suddenly and unexpectedly falling foul of regulations that until a moment before had said something quite different.
How do you fix such a spectacular snafu? By making it never have happened:
Lord Bridges of Headley: The only way in which this regrettable uncertainty can be cured is for the revocation of the 2001 order to be cancelled out. That is what the amendments do. Amendment 27 provides that this revocation shall be taken as never having had effect. This amendment would have retrospective effect. We do not believe anyone would be adversely affected by the amendment. On the contrary, the law will be assumed to be as it was in force before the accidental revocation of the 2001 order. This amendment will restore the law to what it is presumed to be.
Just like that, the Treasury are reaching back into the past and erasing their error from history. At no point will this law ever not have applied. At the last minute they have set our dimension back on its correct path as we go about our daily lives, oblivious to the carnage that has been averted and not aware how grateful we should be to our intrepid timecops.
Above all I’m sure that, like mine, your confidence in our political institutions has been reinforced no end by the fact that a set of regulations, which was scrutinised by both Houses, essentially deleted a chunk of existing and implemented primary legislation and not a soul noticed for months.