Amendment 11

Part of Financial Services and Markets Bill - Report (2nd Day) – in the House of Lords at 12:02 pm on 8 June 2023.

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Photo of Lord Eatwell Lord Eatwell Labour 12:02, 8 June 2023

My Lords, there is a certain amount of confusion about the competitiveness objective and it is important to clarify it in discussion on Report. To illustrate this point, we have to understand that London is a rather peculiar financial centre, because it has a very limited hinterland of domestic savings. It is unlike the United States, where New York has a huge hinterland of domestic savings. It is therefore necessary for London to attract savings and funding from around the world, and it does that brilliantly well.

An important component of that is that London is seen as a well-regulated and efficiently regulated centre. The primary objectives set out in FSMA of maintaining market confidence, financial stability, public awareness, protection of consumers and the reduction of financial crimes are competitiveness goals in and of themselves. They make London more competitive and are a crucial component of the success of London at attracting funds from around the world.

The competitiveness objective that was introduced as a subsidiary objective is rather different, because there competitiveness means being allowed to take more risk. As everyone knows, in financial affairs the balance of risk and return is one of the key elements in making sensible decisions. This is true as much in regulation as it is in the operation of financial services business. It is particularly true in regulation when it applies to systemic risks, which only the regulator can understand and deal with.

It is therefore important that we do not overegg the competitiveness objective. It is important—it has introduced an important element in discussing the relationship between risk and return—but we should recognise that the primary objectives are the key to London’s competitiveness as a financial centre.