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Bank of England and Financial Services Bill [Lords]

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:39 pm on 1st February 2016.

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Photo of Richard Burgon Richard Burgon Shadow Minister (Treasury) 4:39 pm, 1st February 2016

My hon. Friend hits upon an important point. The role of a City Minister, a shadow City Minister and of the Government is not to represent the interests of the City to the population, but to fulfil their democratic function. A Government are not there to take orders from the City of London. Yes, we must listen to the City of London and value its contribution, but we are not its political representatives on earth.

On the Chancellor’s change of mind, the Chair of the Treasury Committee put it well when he asked his Chancellor a very reasonable question: “Why did you not wait for the regime to come into force to enable an assessment of it, how it works, before implementing this further change?” That was an extremely serious question. The change is based on no evidence, which is the worst kind of change.

Banks are having to put significant effort into identifying and establishing new procedures to meet the requirements of the 2013 Act, which received cross-party support in Parliament. The issues were already abundantly clear then, but now the Conservative Government have performed a dramatic U-turn and are not willing even to test the procedures that they initially supported. It is rare for an important measure to be abolished before it has even been introduced.

How will the public feel when they learn that the Chancellor is scrapping a duty on senior managers in banks—a duty that was welcomed as necessary on a cross-party basis—before it has even been implemented? The public’s deep concern about the behaviour of some senior bankers should extend to the Chancellor, who, it appears, is doing the bankers’ bidding, not the bidding of the British people. Do not the Chancellor and the Government understand the widespread anger of the public and their mistrust of the banking system? The public are right to remember that, because of the bankers’ behaviour, people whom this House is meant to represent lost their homes and their jobs. We should never forget that it was the bankers’ crisis that caused the deficit that this Government have relied upon as their justification for their political choice to cut our public services, cut funding to our local authorities, cut the incomes of working people and cut support for the most vulnerable people in our communities.