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I completely agree with my hon. Friend. The Bill has a role to play, because it is very important that the authorities do not put insuperable barriers in the way of new banking bodies and entrants to the market that are seeking approval, because such prospective competitors could offer new services to consumers who are not well served at the moment.
The hon. Member for Nottingham East raised questions about the scope of the FCA’s rule making. That relates to a point made by my hon. Friend Tracey Crouch too, so let me confirm that the FCA will be able to make rules on the cost of credit from payday lenders, as well as pawnbrokers and any other provider of consumer credit. It is important that the FCA’s discretion allows it to protect the consumer and the consumer’s interest in all these matters.
Helen Goodman is not in her place, but she was concerned about the branch network, as were certain others. It is not possible or right for the Government to require particular branches to be kept open and I am sure that no hon. Member would expect that. Lords amendment 25 will require the FCA to have regard to
“the ease with which consumers…including consumers in areas affected by social or economic deprivation, can access” the services they wish to use. The FCA might wish to consider that.
Mr Thomas is also not in his place, but I think I have addressed his concern about whether the information provided by the banks on their practice in lending will be sufficient. I have commented on the remarks made by my hon. Friend the Member for Chatham and Aylesford, and Lords amendment 78 also applies to the lenders about whom she was concerned.
I join the tributes paid to Stella Creasy, who has been energetic in pursuing this issue. She was slightly unfair to refer to a damascene conversion, as some of us on the Government Benches have always regarded the powers that were going to be invested in the FCA as necessary. We have been pleased to clarify that. She will understand that the transition to the new regime will take some time during the next year. The Chairman of the Select Committee chided me earlier for introducing these provisions in a hurry. It is necessary to have a degree of pace. The hon. Lady is absolutely right that during its remaining supervision of these matters the OFT in particular will have the opportunity and the power, given the amendments, to suspend a credit licence if it thinks it is necessary. The discussions that we will have, and I am sure she will have with it, will cause it to be forward-looking rather than simply regulate what has been in place so far. My hon. Friend—
Debate interrupted (Programme Order, this day).
The Deputy Speaker put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair (
Question agreed to.
Lords amendment 24 accordingly agreed to.
The Deputy Speaker then put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that time (
Lords amendments 25 to 58 agreed to.