I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
Following the financial crisis, the Government fundamentally reformed the UK’s system of financial regulation, replacing the failed tripartite system with a set of regulators with clear responsibilities and objectives. We have also taken concerted action to improve conduct across the banking sector, and to deal with the abuses and unacceptable behaviour of the past. The Bank of England has rightly been put back in charge of financial stability, and the Financial Conduct Authority is a watchdog protecting consumers from sharp practices and making sure bankers comply with the rules. Quite rightly, the powers and governance of those important organisations are reviewed closely and the Bill makes some modest changes to them.
The Bill has three main aims. The first is to further strengthen the governance, transparency and accountability of the Bank of England so as to put it in the best possible position to fulfil its vital role in delivering monetary and financial stability. It allows the National Audit Office into the Bank for the first time in its centuries-old history. The second aim is to build on concerted action the Government have already taken to drive up standards in financial services by extending the senior managers and certification regime across the sector, including a tough new duty of responsibility for senior managers. The third aim is to support the creation of a secondary market for annuities, protecting consumers by extending the remit of the Pension Wise guidance service and introducing a requirement which, in effect, ensures that certain individuals who are seeking to sell their annuities have received appropriate financial advice.