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Clause 1 - Deputy Governors

Part of Financial Services Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:45 am on 21st February 2012.

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Photo of Chris Leslie Chris Leslie Shadow Minister (Treasury) 10:45 am, 21st February 2012

He is multi-tasking, as ever. He served on the Committee, which also recommended changing the name of the court to a supervisory board as an important step that needed to be taken. The Treasury Committee’s report “Accountability of the Bank of England” said:

“Given that the Court has changed recently, its name is outdated and does not give a clear picture of what the Court actually does.”

The report went further:

“To reflect the shift of emphasis in its role, we recommend that the governing body of the Bank (Court) change its name to the ‘Supervisory Board of the Bank of England’.”

That was echoed by the pre-legislative scrutiny Committee report on the draft Financial Services Bill, which said:

“We support the idea that the Court should be replaced by a Supervisory Board”.

I hope that in tabling this amendment I am learning from the advice and experience of the hon. Gentleman and others who served on those Committees. I have listened closely to their recommendations, and I want to work with him in Committee. I tried my best to interpret the recommendations that his Committee made—no doubt he supported them—and I have tried to deliver an amendment that would have an effect by putting that in the Bill. I am interested to hear his thoughts on it.

As Shakespeare wrote:

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet”.

There is an awful lot, of course, in a name. Whether we call it a court or a supervisory board may be to some people a simple matter of description and not of any great importance, but it is an important principle, for the reasons that I gave to the hon. Gentleman previously. It is a single change that we need to send to the Treasury to show that this Committee believes that we need that higher level of scrutiny. I am not necessarily fixed on the term “supervisory board”. We could look at other names: governing court, superior committee or trustees’ cabinet. There are all sorts of other possible variants on that. It is important that we dispense with the term “court”. Prime Ministers may have a court around them. Monarchs used to have a court supporting them, but these days, to be appropriate and fitting to the circumstances of the hour, a supervisory board seems to be the better term. It is more straightforward and more appropriate for the change that needs to be made.

I was impressed with the article in The Times written by the hon. Gentleman. He writes some interesting pieces, from time to time. It was fairly recent and was titled “Let’s take King to Court”. My Latin is not particularly good and I have a feeling, Mr Leigh, that “Erskine May” prevents us using any languages other than English and Norman French.