The coalition Government support greater regulation of credit rating agencies. The credit rating agency regulation came into force in the EU, including in the UK, on
These obviously follow on from the proposals of Jacques de Larosière. One problem that has been identified with the rating agencies is the conflict of interest issue. I think that we should move to a "buyer pays" model. The other issue is a lack of competition in the credit ratings market. Michel Barnier, the EU Commissioner, has floated the idea of having an EU credit rating agency, which I think is a thoroughly good idea. Does the Minister agree?
Of course there are areas where more work needs to be done, and the hon. Gentleman is right that Michel Barnier has made further proposals, in a consultation paper that he published earlier this year. They included looking at the business models for credit rating agencies. However, I question whether taxpayers in Europe would feel it right that their money should be going to fund credit rating agencies.
Is it not a cause for cautious optimism that agencies such as Fitch, Moody's and Standard & Poor's have now given the UK such an excellent credit rating?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and it just goes to show that credit rating agencies do not get it wrong all the time. In May, Standard & Poor's put the UK's credit rating on a "negative outlook", as a consequence of the previous Government's policies. However, in October it said that
"the coalition parties have shown a high degree of cohesion in putting the U.K.'s public finances onto what we view to be a more sustainable footing."
We welcome those comments.