Financial Services (Banking Reform) Bill — Report (1st Day) (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 9:30 pm on 26th November 2013.

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Photo of Lord Newby Lord Newby Lords Spokesperson (HM Treasury) (Whip), Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard (HM Household) (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Lords) 9:30 pm, 26th November 2013

Absolutely, I am very happy to do that. I hope that the rules would send that message very clearly, but I am very happy to reinforce it.

I go back to the terms of the amendments. I am concerned that some of the provisions could make it more difficult for a consumer to cancel an agreement—for example, requiring borrowers to sign for cancellation of a CPA. I am confident that the FCA’s proposals will give consumers control with respect to CPAs and in managing their repayments. I strongly support the noble Lord in seeking to protect consumers using the high-cost credit market and ensuring that they know their rights. However, I believe the objectives of transparency and protections for consumers are already provided for by the new regulatory regime; the FCA has already set out the action that it proposes to take in this area.

I turn to the amendment proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Sharkey. His proposal would require the FCA to implement a number of rules from the Florida model of payday regulation, including a requirement for a cap on credit. I can give the noble Lord at least some of the assurances that he seeks in terms of the FCA considering the Florida approach to regulating payday lenders very closely, as it decides how to design a cap on the total cost of payday loans for the UK market and make sure that it works effectively here. It will consider rollovers and look, for example, at the experience of Florida with a real-time database.

While I completely support the noble Lord’s desire to learn lessons from other countries’ experience, I have some doubts as to whether it is as straightforward as he thinks to simply import almost an entire regulatory framework from another jurisdiction. The UK has a very different market from other countries, and it is right that the rules governing regulation of payday loans in the UK reflect our own unique national characteristics. The FCA will be charged with doing that, building on the international evidence and examination of the UK market, and drawing on the Competition Commission’s analysis among other things. Therefore, while I share the noble Lord’s commitment to ensuring the UK consumers are protected when they borrow from high-cost lenders, I hope that he will agree that the best way to achieve that is through development of evidence-based rules that are tailored to protect UK consumers. We have a clear action plan to deliver this objective.

The noble Lord, Lord Eatwell, raised the question of the content of the amendments and the relationship between the Government, in setting policy in this area, and the FCA—where the Government stop and the FCA begins. I heard very clearly what he said. The exact nature of the amendment that we will debate at Third Reading is currently being formulated, and I shall make sure that his point is very much in the minds not only of Ministers but of officials as they set about that task.

With those assurances about the amendment that we will introduce, I hope that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his amendment.