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Oversight Committee

Part of Financial Services Bill (Money) (No. 2) – in the House of Commons at 8:30 pm on 10th December 2012.

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Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark The Financial Secretary to the Treasury 8:30 pm, 10th December 2012

This excellent debate has covered a number of issues that colleagues from all parts of the House feel passionately about, and correctly so because they are of huge importance to all our constituents, especially the most vulnerable in our society.

In the short time available, I wish to address some of the points that have been made directly by hon. Members. The shadow spokesman, the hon. Member for Nottingham

East (Chris Leslie), asked how the powers would be exercised by the Financial Conduct Authority. The powers come directly from the FCA’s remit, and he will be aware that the Bill establishes a far-reaching consumer protection objective. The overall objective is

“securing an appropriate degree of protection for consumers.”

The Bill goes into detail to require the FCA to consider the following: the different degree of risk to be tolerated by different types of consumers; the different needs of different types of consumers for the provision of information; and the general principle that those providing financial services should be expected to provide consumers with a level of care appropriate to their needs. I think that colleagues would recognise that this is a far-reaching objective which gives quite general powers to protect consumers, and it is right that that should be so.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned basic bank accounts, on which some progress continues to be made. There is no universal legal right to a basic bank account, but the industry guidance still stands. It states that if a consumer asks to open a basic bank account and meets the qualifying criteria, the firm should offer them an account and that banks can refuse to open an account for a customer only where the customer has a history of fraud or is an undischarged bankrupt. Those provisions continue.