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Clause 1 - Deputy Governors

Part of Financial Services Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:30 pm on 21st February 2012.

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Photo of Chris Leslie Chris Leslie Shadow Minister (Treasury) 12:30 pm, 21st February 2012

Two wrongs do not make a right. I do not say that everything in the FSA was perfect, and there are important critiques to be made about prudential regulation. I am not sure, however, that the solution in front of us today will provide the route through. The Minister spoke earlier about the shadow Chancellor’s view on Second Reading. We were, and are, prepared to look in Committee at whether the Bill will become clear and can be improved, and will make a judgment on Report or Third Reading about whether to support it.

Even at this early stage, we are talking about the delineation of functions between deputy governors—macro-prudential, micro-prudential, and otherwise. The wiring is becoming unclear and there is danger in having opacity or ambiguity in regulatory reform. We should not, as the Minister would say, jump out of the frying pan into the fire.

My worry is that things are not as clear-cut as the Minister thinks. For example, we have already discovered that we will continue to have a NedCo to the court of the Bank of England, and an oversight committee as well. Presumably the NedCo will keep its role of reviewing the Bank’s performance in relation to its objectives and strategy, and the oversight committee will perform a similar role. That is a small part of the interstices of the structural constitution of the Bank of England, never mind any wider questions.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Foyle for casting a light on the issue through his anecdote. Rather than us being made to feel that we are uninformed members of the Committee who ought to know better, and that things ought to be clear to us, the onus is on the Minister and the Government properly to explain the superstructure and the costs associated with it.

I may be prepared to let clause 1 stand for now, because we want to get to the meat of the Financial Policy Committee and other issues. However, this is an incredibly important moment in the Committee’s deliberations.