I do want to see more transparency. Electronic data exchanges certainly have the potential to provide the regulators, including the Bank of England, with more real-time transactional information about what is actually happening. I do not necessarily want to see regulators wading through reams of information, but I want to ensure that, if needs be, they have the scope to act. It is not clear that the Financial Services Bill, as it first entered Parliament in February, would have captured the LIBOR benchmarking situation within the regulatory perimeter. There were suggestions from the FSA that it was not something that it could deal with. That was not good enough and the Government have come forward with amendments. I want to ensure that those amendments allow the regulators to trigger inquiries and oversight for all benchmarking indices and arrangements, especially in the commodities market.
Robert Halfon, who has been campaigning on oil and petrol prices, has called for an OFT and FSA investigation into manipulation by oil firms in recent times. The United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission has raised questions about price fixing and manipulation in the silver market. That study was inconclusive, but questions linger over metals markets more broadly. The Minister’s good friend, the European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, Commissioner Barnier, has suggested that all commodity indices should be covered in this way. Rather than waiting for European regulators to ensure that this happens, why do we not take this opportunity to deal with the issue?
We should not just say that benchmarking means investments; it is vital that we put it beyond doubt that the question of commodities is included. It is a stitch in time to ensure that we cast the regulatory perimeter correctly. I commend amendments (a), (b) and (c) to Lords amendment 60 to the House.