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Banking Union and Economic and Monetary Union

Part of Free School Meals (Children Over the Age of 16) – in the House of Commons at 6:08 pm on 6th November 2012.

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Photo of Jacob Rees-Mogg Jacob Rees-Mogg Conservative, North East Somerset 6:08 pm, 6th November 2012

I am enormously grateful to my hon. Friend, who gives me an extra minute every time.

This is an important and good opportunity for the Government to get back powers that should never have been given away. It was a great folly to give away financial regulation to the power of the European Union, because as my hon. Friend Andrea Leadsom so wisely said, we have much more financial services in this country—I think she gave the figure of 36% for wholesale financial markets in the whole of the European Union that are in the UK. Therefore, we ought to regulate our own affairs and we ought not have delegated that to the European Union. We need to be careful about what is being proposed when it comes to the regulation of what are substantial international banks based in the United Kingdom in their business—which may be subsidiary business—with eurozone countries, because there is obviously a risk that they will find themselves under the auspices of a European regulator when they ought more appropriately to be under the auspices of a British regulator.

I think the Government’s position is quite strong, and I think the amendment is extremely sensible. It is interesting that we learn only through the Financial Times that the proposals that have come forth from the Commission are illegal. We do not learn it from the Government or the Commission; we learn it from an underhand leak, which comes via a newspaper to inform our debates, which is a pity. It would be nice if we could get such information directly to a sovereign Parliament, so that we knew what was or was not legal. Perhaps the Government will consider releasing the legal advice that will guide them—or perhaps ought to guide them—in their approach to this debate.

I would encourage the Government to accept the amendment tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Stone. I listened very carefully to the Minister—I always do: he is a great Minister, who is much admired on this side of the House, and I imagine in other parts too. There was nothing he said which in essence contradicted my hon. Friend’s amendment, so I ended up thinking that what we were really debating was which way up an egg should be eaten—whether it should be the big side or the little side up. We are united as egg eaters in this context, and we think it would be “egg-cellent”—if I may carry on with this theme—to support my hon. Friend’s amendment, to which I was pleased to add my name, because it provides us with a solution in our negotiations in Europe and a clear way forward.