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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

I did not have the privilege of participating in that debate, but I can tell the hon. Lady our policy. I also wanted to talk about the very important matter that the hon. Member for Nottingham East and several others raised about the transparency of the information that should be provided, as is the case in the United States, on the actual practice rather than just the intentions of lenders. This is a particularly important point, and what we have said in public—I mentioned this to the Chairman of the Treasury Committee earlier—is that the Government are working with the industry to get a commitment from the banks that they will publish granular data on their lending, particularly in deprived communities. We are meeting the British Bankers Association shortly on that. We have been absolutely clear that if we are not satisfied with that information we will use the forthcoming banking reform Bill to legislate to that effect. That will concentrate minds and I think everyone will be aware of the importance of that question.

It is important to address the context in which we are operating. The Financial Conduct Authority must not regard itself simply as a regulator of incumbents, although it has important responsibilities in that regard. It also has the important objective that my hon. Friend Andrea Leadsom mentioned, which is to promote competition. I regard the degree of competition in retail banking as unacceptable. I would like to see more new entrants and I would like them to concentrate, in particular, on reaching those parts of the market that existing incumbents find it difficult to reach. I have made it absolutely clear in the meetings I have had with the shadow Financial Conduct Authority that the competition objective is to be taken extremely seriously, and I and my colleagues in the Treasury will be looking for progress on that.