John Glen contributions to the Financial Services (Implementation of Legislation) Bill [HL] 2017-19

Mon 11th February 2019 Financial Services (Implementation of Legislation) Bill [Lords] (Commons Chamber)
2nd reading: House of Commons
Money resolution: House of Commons
Programme motion: House of Commons
Ways and Means resolution: House of Commons
7 interactions (1,302 words)

Financial Services (Implementation of Legislation) Bill [Lords]

(2nd reading: House of Commons)
(Money resolution: House of Commons)
(Programme motion: House of Commons)
(Ways and Means resolution: House of Commons)
John Glen Excerpts
Monday 11th February 2019

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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HM Treasury
Anneliese Dodds Portrait Anneliese Dodds - Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Feb 2019, 7:06 p.m.

It is my understanding that there was significant challenge from my party in the other place, and in fact changes were made, including for example a clearer indication of the circumstances under which those adjustments could be made by the Government. Initially that was very open-ended, but we supported and pushed for much more clarity on that. We would have liked to have seen change in other areas, and perhaps clarification in additional areas. We have not had that, however, which is why it is necessary to oppose the Bill at this stage.

Finally, this legislation is of course only required because of the Conservative Government’s recklessness in persisting with a commitment to keep no deal on the table, as rightly underlined by the hon. Member for Glasgow Central (Alison Thewliss). We have seen very clearly today from the preliminary estimates of GDP growth for the final quarter of last year how this determination to prioritise ideology over national interest is harming our country. The contribution to GDP from business investment was negative for the fourth quarter in a row; that is a clear sign that uncertainty surrounding the Government’s Brexit strategy is acting as a real drag on the economy. The construction sector actually contracted this quarter, and after two consecutive quarters of negative growth, the UK manufacturing sector sadly is now officially in recession. So 2018 had the worst annual GDP out-turn since the then Chancellor’s disastrous 2012, and economists are forecasting that even worse could well come.

The flight into the buffers that would be represented by a no-deal Brexit is still being countenanced. Any responsible Government would take that plane off the runway once and for all.

John Glen Portrait The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (John Glen) - Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Feb 2019, 7:09 p.m.

I thank all Members for their contributions to the debate. As my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury set out earlier, the Government do not want a no-deal scenario, but our job as a responsible Government is to prepare for all possible outcomes, including reaching 29 March without a deal. The Bill forms an important part of those preparations. In a no-deal scenario, it would ensure that we could maintain the UK’s reputation as a global leader and that the competitiveness of our financial services industry would be maintained. The UK has in many cases played a leading role in shaping these proposals over a number of years, and they will bring benefits to UK consumers and businesses once they have been implemented. I want to talk about the four or five themes that have been raised in the debate, after which I will address the points made by the hon. Member for Wakefield (Mary Creagh).

Mr John Baron Portrait Mr John Baron (Basildon and Billericay) (Con) - Hansard
11 Feb 2019, 7:09 p.m.

I refer the House to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. The Economic Secretary to the Treasury will be aware of our exchanges in Committee regarding EU regulations as they relate to key information documents and how KIDs are adversely affecting the assessment of investment trusts. The trade bodies oppose them, including the Association of Investment Companies, which has suggested that the investors’ response to them should be to “Burn before reading”. Can the Minister report back on his deliberations with the Financial Conduct Authority, which has been rather slow out of the blocks? Ultimately, it is the Government’s responsibility to get this right.

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Hansard
11 Feb 2019, 7:09 p.m.

I am happy to respond to my hon. Friend’s intervention. I acknowledge his expertise in this area and his excellent article in the Investors Chronicle this week. I would point out that, just last summer, the FCA issued a call for input and sought industry views on the next steps for packaged retail investment and insurance products—PRIIPs. That consultation closed on 28 September and the FCA is reviewing the responses carefully. It will publish a statement in the first quarter of this year. When I next see the chief executive of the FCA, I will challenge him on that publication date.

Let me turn to the substantive thrust of the concerns raised in the debate. The first relates to the desirability of no deal. As I have said, we do not want a no-deal scenario, but we need to be responsible and to plan for all eventualities. Our priority remains getting approval for the deal that we have negotiated with our European partners, which will deliver on the democratic choice of the British people.

Turning to the other preparations, we have now laid 50 statutory instruments before Parliament. The allegation from the hon. Members for Oxford East (Anneliese Dodds) and for Stalybridge and Hyde (Jonathan Reynolds) was that there had been no coherence to the Government’s work, but as the hon. Lady will know, we will have had 53 statutory instruments. We have more debates tomorrow and on Wednesday, and I think several more next week. We are addressing the deficiencies in all the major EU files and the relevant domestic legislation. This will ensure that we have a functioning financial services regime at the point where we leave the EU in a no-deal scenario. Our aim throughout this work has been consistently to minimise disruption for firms and their customers and to provide a smooth transition when we leave the EU.

The hon. Member for Glasgow Central (Alison Thewliss) made a point about the breadth of the power in this legislation. We have worked hard to ensure that this is a clearly defined power and that changes cannot be made such that the implemented files depart in a major way from the original legislation. However, the Government will retain some flexibility to make adjustments to take account of the UK’s new position outside the European Union. The amendments proposed by the Government require the Treasury to publish draft SIs at least one month in advance of laying, as well as a report detailing where there have been omissions and changes and giving the justification for those changes. We believe that the report will allow parliamentarians to scrutinise the changes before the SIs are laid. If the UK were forced to take on EU legislation either in whole or not at all, it is likely that we would be able to domesticate very few of these files in good time, so even the positive aspects of the reforms would be delayed. This is a pragmatic measure to deal with the reality of a very undesirable situation, and our approach has been endorsed by the industry, with which we have engaged in the preparation of the Bill.

Alison Thewliss Portrait Alison Thewliss - Hansard
11 Feb 2019, 7:09 p.m.

The Minister talks in his letter about how things are deemed to be beneficial for the UK, but he and I will have very different opinions on what would be beneficial for the UK, or indeed on whether Scotland should be part of the UK, so how can he say that that is not a policy decision?

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Hansard
11 Feb 2019, 7:09 p.m.

We are talking about a no-deal scenario, which we cannot fully anticipate or set out in legislation. However, there would be a full discussion and additional legislation in those circumstances.

For the benefit of the House, I want to clarify the industry engagement that has been undertaken on this Bill. The Treasury engaged with industry ahead of the introduction of the Bill, and the financial services industry has been expecting many of the files for some time. For example, the industry will be generally supportive of the changes that will be implemented with the European market infrastructure regulation regulatory fitness and performance programme—EMIR REFIT—file, which introduces changes to regulations for clearing and reporting requirements, to make them more proportionate and to provide further clarifications. We have been engaging to deliver what the industry expects.

With respect to accepting EU laws after exit, the Bill is not about accepting such laws wholesale. We will be able to implement only those pieces of legislation that are beneficial to the UK, because we will be able to choose the files, or specific provisions within those files, that we are going to implement. For those files that we have already agreed at EU level but not yet implemented, we will be able to fix deficiencies similar to what was done in relation to the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. For those files on which negotiations will be ongoing at the point of exit, we will be able to make some adjustments to them to take account of the fact that we will not be around the negotiating table when they will be finalised.

Moving on to the model for financial services regulation more generally, the Government of course recognise that this legislation should apply only for an interim period while we consider a sustainable, longer-term approach that balances the need to ensure appropriate parliamentary oversight of financial services legislation after leaving the EU with the need to maintain the flexibility and competitiveness of our regulatory regime. That is why the model in the Bill would apply only for a temporary, non-extendable two-year period post exit, specifically in a no-deal scenario, and to specified EU files only. The Government will take forward our approach for a sustainable long-term model in due course.

Turning to the points made by the hon. Member for Wakefield, the UK has publicly led on the development of sustainable finance, as she set out, and the Government are committed to the sustainable finance agenda and are a leader in green finance. That is why we have included these files in the Bill. We recognise that the files form part of the EU’s response to the Paris climate change agreement and the UN sustainable development goals. The Government support the aims of the files and do not consider them harmful to industry at their current stage of development. As such, we were pleased to add them to the schedule to the Bill, and we thank the noble Lords who recommended their inclusion.

I stress again that this legislation involves a temporary measure, with the delegated power limited by a two-year sunset clause and subject to the affirmative procedure in each and every instance of its use. Following constructive engagement in the other place, the Bill is clearer about the power contained within it and has much stronger reporting requirements than at its introduction.

I thank all right hon. and hon. Members for their contributions to this debate. I am sure that we can agree on the importance of continuing to support the UK’s world-leading financial services industry in any future scenario. I look forward to discussing the Bill further in Committee, and I commend it to the House.

Question put, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

Financial Services (Implementation of Legislation) Bill [Lords] (Programme)