Debates between Baroness Foster of Aghadrumsee and Baroness Vere of Norbiton during the 2019 Parliament

NatWest: Account Terminations and Branch Closures

Debate between Baroness Foster of Aghadrumsee and Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Wednesday 10th January 2024

(6 months, 1 week ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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If I may, I will focus on the second part of the noble Lord’s question around account termination. It is an issue that the Government take incredibly seriously. For absolute clarity, the Government are clear that payment account providers must not discriminate on the basis of political belief or, indeed, any other opinion. Therefore, following events over the summer, the Government issued a policy statement on 21 July which very clearly set out that 90 days’ notification must be given to any customer whose account is to be closed. Also, the bank must give a reason for that closure. That will come into legislation in due course. We are working at pace to draft the secondary instrument and it will be laid in your Lordships’ House soon.

Baroness Foster of Aghadrumsee Portrait Baroness Foster of Aghadrumsee (Non-Afl)
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My Lords, the Minister may recall that, towards the end of last year, I asked about the establishment of a banking hub for my home town, Lisnaskea, after the Ulster Bank, which is part of the NatWest group, decided to close the last remaining bank in that rural town. I mention rurality as I was surprised when I met the representatives of LINK, which has set up banking hubs, who told me that they do not take into account the rural nature of the area when they are deciding on banking hubs. I understand that there is a consultation ongoing: when changes are being made, will the Minister consider the needs of rural dwellers?

Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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I am grateful for that intervention, because that is precisely what we intend to do. We are placing the existing voluntary arrangements set up by the banking sector on a statutory footing. There is a consultation out at the moment by the FCA, part of which is asking what factors and criteria should go into any assessment—the number of people in the area, the number of SMEs affected, the impact on the vulnerable and what other cash access services there are. Of course, rurality will impact on all those factors, so it will be taken into account.

Banking Hubs

Debate between Baroness Foster of Aghadrumsee and Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Monday 11th December 2023

(7 months, 1 week ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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There were many questions there and perhaps I will focus on the last one, which is where the FCA consultation comes to the fore. The proposals set out by the FCA are very detailed and potentially go much further than the voluntary initiatives of banking hubs that have so far been undertaken by the sector. Obviously, that consultation remains open until 8 February, and we will be looking for not only banks to respond but representatives of the vulnerable groups the noble Baroness describes, so that we can get a full view of what the proposals should be.

Baroness Foster of Aghadrumsee Portrait Baroness Foster of Aghadrumsee (Non-Afl)
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My Lords, I commend the establishment of banking hubs across the United Kingdom as an alternative to the closure of mainstream banks. Can the Minister set out the criteria for such banking hubs being initiated? Just one has been established in Northern Ireland. Recently, the Ulster Bank decided to close a range of banks across Northern Ireland, leaving many rural areas without physical banking facilities. What are the criteria for the establishment of banking hubs, because there is a need for one in Lisnaskea, south-east Fermanagh?

Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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I recognise what the noble Baroness is saying. The criteria currently used to assess whether a community needs a banking hub are set out in consultation with the financial services sector; that is part of the current voluntary arrangement. I point the noble Baroness to the FCA consultation, because the criteria to be set out going forward are far more detailed and focus on the needs of not only local communities but SMEs. The consultation will also look at seasonal fluctuations in the need for cash access and the ability of SMEs to get coins and notes. The FCA is going further than the current voluntary arrangements.

Transport: South Wales

Debate between Baroness Foster of Aghadrumsee and Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Thursday 2nd February 2023

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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I do not have any further details about north-south connectivity in Wales. The union connectivity review very much focused on the transport corridors that run across north Wales and along the south coast, but I will write to the noble Lord if I can find out more.

Baroness Foster of Aghadrumsee Portrait Baroness Foster of Aghadrumsee (Non-Afl)
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My Lords, in terms of UK connectivity, Northern Ireland unfortunately cannot let the train take the strain: we rely on air and sea connectivity. Given the sad collapse of Flybe, has the Minister had any conversations about sustainable connectivity between Northern Ireland and Great Britain?

Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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The noble Baroness is right: the collapse of Flybe was a sad event, and we work closely with those who have lost their jobs because of it. However, it was a much smaller airline than noble Lords may have seen in the past. Of course we think about air connectivity to Northern Ireland. We have a public service obligation in place for the city of Derry/Londonderry, and there are currently over 200 daily flights from Belfast.