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I want to speak briefly on Lords amendments 25 and 36, both of which deal with the issue of competition in respect of the new regulators: the Prudential Regulation Authority that will supervise the banking sector and the Financial Conduct Authority that will supervise business conduct in the banking sector. I seek reassurance from the Minister that having regard to the quality and level of competition in the marketplace will be sufficient to drive a radical improvement in respect of the new challenger banks.
As the Minister knows, the five oligopoly banks in the UK currently have over 80% of all small and medium-sized enterprise bank accounts and personal current accounts. That means access to finance is very limited in respect of choice and types of finance, and as bank balance sheets are currently in a difficult position, it is extraordinarily hard for small businesses to get hold of the financing they need to grow, which in turn will help our economy to recover. So the Bill gives us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ensure that the regulators are, in future, incentivised to ensure not only that banks do not fail, but that we encourage new entrants to the market. At the moment, many would-be bankers find that they are set enormous hurdles, such as having to set up a dealing room just to provide evidence of their ability to do so, yet at the end of an enormous obstacle course the FSA tells them that they cannot have a banking licence. What we cannot have in the future is the PRA and the FCA combining to make it as difficult or more difficult to encourage new entrants into the market. So I hope that the Minister will set out how the regulators of the future will not only tolerate, but encourage new competition.