Debates between Baroness Noakes and Lord Harlech during the 2019 Parliament

Mon 20th Feb 2023

Financial Services and Markets Bill

Debate between Baroness Noakes and Lord Harlech
Baroness Noakes Portrait Baroness Noakes (Con)
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I think that is merely restating the problem. Could my noble friend have another go?

Lord Harlech Portrait Lord Harlech (Con)
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I will write with a full definition of what constitutes “in the public interest”.

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Lord Harlech Portrait Lord Harlech (Con)
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Like I said, I will speak to the department and write with a definition of what constitutes “in the public interest”.

Parliamentary committees can already conduct their own inquiries and hearings, call for papers, and call for individuals and organisations to give evidence. The power in Clause 27 seeks to complement, rather than substitute or detract from, the important role played by parliamentary committees. It will be important for the Treasury to work with parliamentary committees to understand the evidence base for whether it is in the public interest to exercise the power.

On Amendment 79A, from my noble friend Lady Noakes, as with parliamentary representations, it will be important for the Treasury to consider the views of the regulators’ statutory panels and representatives of those affected by the rules. However, it would be inappropriate for the Treasury to provide a running commentary on the individual representations made. In addition, the FCA and the PRA have committed to ensuring that there are clear and appropriate channels for industry and other stakeholders to raise concerns about specific rules. These channels will be set out in the regulators’ policy statements on rule review, required by Clause 27, in due course.

Baroness Noakes Portrait Baroness Noakes (Con)
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Could my noble friend explain why it is inappropriate to have transparency on why the Treasury chooses not to pursue representations that have been made to it by bodies that clearly have an interest in and experience of the matters under consideration?

Lord Harlech Portrait Lord Harlech (Con)
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I do not think I said that it would be inappropriate; I said that it would be inappropriate to provide a running commentary, not that there would be no comment on individual representations. Again, my understanding is that it will be done on a case-by-case basis.

Baroness Noakes Portrait Baroness Noakes (Con)
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Could my noble friend explain that a little further? If I am a panel, consumer body or one of the trade bodies and I make a representation to the Treasury, what can I expect from the Treasury?

Lord Harlech Portrait Lord Harlech (Con)
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I am sorry; at this stage, I will have to take that back to the department and write to my noble friend.

On Amendments 80 and 147, tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Bowles, the new rule review powers inserted by Clauses 27 and 46 concerning the appointment of an independent person are in line with the practice of other powers in the regulatory framework. For example, the appointment of Dame Elizabeth Gloster to investigate the FCA’s regulation and supervision of London Capital & Finance plc was approved by the Treasury. The Government do not consider that it would be appropriate to require that appointment to be subject to approval by a parliamentary committee, which, as I have mentioned, can already undertake its own inquiries.

Amendments 81 and 148 were also tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Bowles. The primary role of the Government in the regulatory framework is to ensure that the regulators operate effectively and in accordance with the framework, as set out by Parliament in legislation. Where there is a case for external review of the rule-making of the regulators, the Bill provides powers to enable this.

Section 1S of FSMA and Section 7F of the Bank of England Act 1998 already permit the Treasury to appoint

“an independent person to conduct a review of the economy, efficiency and effectiveness”

of how the FCA and the PRA use their resources. In addition, Section 77 of the Financial Services Act 2012 allows the Treasury to direct an investigation into relevant events, such as the FCA’s regulation and supervision of London Capital & Finance plc.

The Bill further strengthens these accountability arrangements with regard to specific rules through Clauses 27 and 46, allowing the Treasury to direct the regulators to review their rules. In addition, as we have already discussed in this Committee, Clause 37 inserts new provisions into FSMA which permit the Treasury to direct the FCA and the PRA to report on performance where that is necessary for scrutiny of the discharge of their functions. Clause 47 modifies FSMA so that these provisions also apply to the Bank of England in relation to its regulation of CCPs and CSDs.

Finally, as I have already mentioned, Parliament is already able to conduct thematic reviews where it considers these necessary. Clause 36 is designed to support this scrutiny by requiring the regulators to notify the Treasury Select Committee of their consultations and to respond to representations to consultations by parliamentary committees. We will discuss noble Lords’ views on the operation of those specific provisions later today.

With that, I hope I have provided sufficient reassurance to the noble Baroness to withdraw Amendment 78, and that she and my noble friend do not move the remaining amendments when they are reached.