Financial Services (Implementation of Legislation) Bill [HL] - Committee (1st Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:00 pm on 8th January 2019.

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Photo of Baroness Kramer Baroness Kramer Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Treasury and Economy) 6:00 pm, 8th January 2019

I thought that the noble Lord described naked short selling, which I thought I just defined. Anyway, I am nervous about the idea of policies such as this. There will be enormous pressure to use this opportunity, where the Treasury alone is the decision-maker, basically to loosen the regulatory structure that we have in the UK. That issue is a fundamental one for Parliament.

I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, who talked about the need to find the appropriate place and that it is good that we can have those discussions with the Treasury, to have them with Parliament because there is another side to the argument. One reason why the UK been spectacularly successful as a financial centre is because the regulatory environment in which it functions is considered by many to be a global gold standard. If the noble Lord goes to countries such as China, India or other places, the level of trust and respect in financial institutions that are framed within those EU parameters—he could say it is foolish or sensible—is very high. It annoys the United States to heaven and beyond because so often it has loosened its regulatory standards but has not seen the business shift out of the EU into the US.

If you talk to companies, part of that reason is the reputational issue. For many companies, to be able to turn to clients and say, “I operate in the gold standard regulatory environment which means that you can trust me and what I do”, is so key to the future of their business that clients will reply, “If there is a significant loosening of standards, it might in the short term increase my profits but in the long term it will damage my regular relationship with my client base and I will need to move to the place that carries that gold standard kitemark”. Losing the kitemark is significant. That is something that this House and the other House should consider and should not be simply left to a conversation between the industry and the Treasury. It backs up our whole argument that this Bill, by transferring all those decisions simply to statutory instruments, is running into very dangerous territory.