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Oversight Committee

Part of Financial Services Bill (Money) (No. 2) – in the House of Commons at 8:00 pm on 10th December 2012.

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Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office), Party Chair, Co-operative Party 8:00 pm, 10th December 2012

My hon. Friend makes a very good point. The situation is particularly stark in rural communities, but it is increasingly stark in many urban areas. North Harrow, in my constituency, no longer has a bank, and businesses in that area are extremely disappointed by the lack of easy access to banking services and the inability to have a proper discussion with a local bank manager about their finance needs.

I hesitate to suggest that the Minister might enjoy and benefit from a foreign trip, but should he find time in his diary, he might like to go to Washington and spend a little time with the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. He would find a considerable amount of expertise there on the disclosure of lending data by banks to businesses and individual consumers. He might like to bring back to the House, and to his conversations with those in the financial services industry, the benefits of the US legislation, the most recent update of which has happened since 2010.

Let me return briefly to the definition of payday lenders. If I may say so, I thought the Minister quite skilfully used an intervention made by my hon. Friend Stella Creasy to avoid defining payday lenders. I gently encourage the Minister to look again, not necessarily in the context of this debate, but separately, at how payday lenders should be defined. Even with the power proposed by the Lords, the question of definition is still ducked. If there is to be the interest rate cap for which so many Members, led by my hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow, have campaigned, we must have clearer definitions of which financial services businesses are included within the term “payday lenders” or the high-cost credit definition that was just mentioned, so that proper action can be taken.

I fear that many of the payday lenders who have looked at the amendment that the new archbishop has helped to force over the line, perhaps, in the House of Lords will recognise that there is no definition as yet, and so will not feel sufficiently worried to change their practices.