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Part of Bank of England and Financial Services Bill [HL] – in the House of Lords at 5:15 pm on 15th December 2015.

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Photo of Lord Ashton of Hyde Lord Ashton of Hyde Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip) 5:15 pm, 15th December 2015

My Lords, I am grateful to both the noble Baroness, Lady Kramer, and my noble friend Lord Naseby for raising this important issue. I will take each of their amendments in turn.

The amendment in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Kramer, would add diversity of provision, including diversity of ownership, geography, community and size, to the list of factors to which the Financial Conduct Authority may have regard as part of its competition objective. The Government agree that access to suitable and affordable banking services is important for communities across the UK. The Government want to see greater competition in our banking sector, with more banks challenging the large incumbents. If communities or entrepreneurs want to set up a bank, either to serve their local community or to compete nationally, and can do so responsibly, Government and regulators should not be an obstacle to this.

This is exactly why the FCA is already required to promote effective competition in the interests of consumers of regulated financial services. We would expect its consideration of competition already to involve not just the number of competitors but the diversity of approach, including geographical location and community. In advancing its competition objective, the FCA may take account of various factors including barriers to entry for new providers of financial services, the needs of different consumers and the differences of businesses.