Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Banking Union and Economic and Monetary Union

Part of Free School Meals (Children Over the Age of 16) – in the House of Commons at 4:59 pm on 6th November 2012.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark The Financial Secretary to the Treasury 4:59 pm, 6th November 2012

I do not think that there is any difference between us on this. It is essential that this arrangement is legally sound. At the moment, the negotiations are continuing and the shape of the regulation is evolving, but the sensible commitment I have given is to make sure not to proceed unless we are satisfied that it is legally robust.

Let me talk about some of the other measures we need to bear in mind. We must make it absolutely clear that both now and in the future there should be no requirement, for example, for clearing houses that handle significant amounts of euro-denominated business to be located geographically in the eurozone, as proposed by the ECB—a proposal against which we have launched legal proceedings. That blatantly undermines the single market and the United Kingdom’s financial services industry. It is a poor indication of the ECB’s attitude if it intends to proceed in such a way. We need to be clear, too, that London is home to more clearing houses than any other EU capital and such proposals are unacceptable.

As the House will see, there is some way to go before the banking union proposals are acceptable to the Government. They will not be agreed by the United Kingdom unless and until we are satisfied that the UK’s position in the single market has been secured.

Let me turn briefly to the document known as the four presidents’ report, which was published on 12 October. It is an interim report that gives a general overview of the measures that the euro area member states might want to consider taking to improve the functioning of the euro. At this stage, there is little detail in the report apart from in the area of banking union and a great deal more discussion will be needed before there is agreement even on which issues should be explored further. The House will have a particular interest, however, in the discussion about democratic legitimacy and accountability.

I emphasise again that although the UK will not be part of the arrangements, it seems to me to be important that when significant decisions are being taken at the eurozone level about national matters, national Parliaments should be able to scrutinise those decisions, just as the Bank of England, the UK regulatory authorities and not least Ministers are accountable to this House and the House of Lords.