John Jackson says parliament will be looking closely at the behaviour of the regulator, and not before time

I am delighted that a select committee of the House of Lords is to look into the effectiveness of the FSA, and particularly whether its rules are damaging the country's international competitiveness.

The fact that the Lords has gone down this route reveals that their Lordships at least think there is a prima facie case that the FSA is a damaging organisation - otherwise why waste parliamentary time?

Take one example of potential regulatory overkill which the FSA is currently looking at - commission disclosure to commercial customers.

So far, the heavy regulatory boot has not descended on the necks of brokers, but it is poised over their heads like the Sword of Damocles.

Apparently, few commercial clients are asking brokers to disclose commission. These commercial clients are probably mainly interested in (a) the cover provided, (b) the cost and (c) the service provided.

They would expect the broker to make a crust out of the deal, otherwise they would be in Carey Street.

Meanwhile, ever busy, the FSA is expected to announce by the end of this month whether to bring regulation into the area of contract certainty.

The point about regulators such as the FSA is that there is never enough regulation. Their well-pensioned jobs are at stake. No matter how vast the FSA rule book is this January, trust me when I tell you that by Christmas it will be even larger.

Yet, as if this were not enough, there is the extraordinary call by ABI director-general Stephen Haddrill for the government to give the FSA powers to promote competition in the market. I wonder which far-flung planet he lives on.

Think about it. Here is the head of the organisation representing some of the biggest commercial interests anywhere in the world, asking for a massive bureaucracy to be involved in promoting competition.

I thought that was the job of his organisation's members. The only people who can promote competition in the insurance industry are insurers and brokers.

Mr Haddrill is, of course, running a bureaucracy himself, so perhaps we should not expect too many pearls of private enterprise wisdom from him.

The prospect of some centralised Stalinist-style regulator being involved in competition in the marketplace is as a bizarre an idea as I have come across, and fills me with horror.

Where the FSA is concerned, if it ever looks like knocking at the door of the competitive market, I suggest Mr Haddrill hangs out the garlic and gets ready with a stake and mallet.

However, the industry has until 9 February to submit written evidence to the select committee.

I hope such evidence arrives at the House of Lords by the lorry-load. IT