The Economy

Part of Council Tax Rebate – in the House of Commons at 4:47 pm on 31st March 2009.

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Photo of John Reid John Reid Labour, Airdrie and Shotts 4:47 pm, 31st March 2009

I have two minutes and 30 seconds left, and I hope the hon. Gentleman will accept that I must make some progress because, unlike the Conservative party, I want to put forward concrete proposals.

I urge the Chancellor to recommend the following key principles when he meets world leaders at the G20 later this week. First, there is the principle of non-discriminatory access to pre and post-trade data, which includes accuracy and timely data, an essential ingredient for transparency. Secondly, data should be made available at reasonable cost as described under the European legislation, MiFID—the markets in financial instruments directive. There must be clearer guidance on what constitutes reasonable cost. Thirdly, there should be high-quality raw data; that is imperative for sound decision making, and I believe greater transparency is needed to identify who is submitting incorrect data. I come to this subject having never held a Treasury post among my nine Ministries. That is not a statement of avoidance of responsibility; it is a confession of relative inexperience in this area. However, it surprises me that sourcing data do not exist in financial markets. Finally, there must be effective consolidation of raw data, and in Europe that is currently impeded by an absence of common reporting.

I believe these principles should be introduced in the discussions and that the Government should set up an ongoing transparency group under the auspices of the G20 to assist in the implementation of the principles agreed at a global level. Why? Because of liquidity. I have previously spoken about inter-bank lending. As we look further into the opacity of some of these deals, through derivatives and into the credit default swaps, it will become clear that it is impossible to return confidence to the market unless there is more transparency than exists at present. The most obvious example of this is the market in credit default swaps. Some of the information that is put out in this most difficult of areas is largely controlled by the banks. If ever there was a case of people marking their own homework, it is in the credit default swaps market, where there is lack of both transparency and control of regulation. I believe doing this is essential for confidence, and that it should be a major element this week. I commend this approach to my right hon. Friends the Chancellor and the Prime Minister.

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