Financial Services Bill

– in a Public Bill Committee on 6th March 2012.

Alert me about debates like this

[Mr George Howarth in the Chair]

[Continuation from column 384]

On resuming—

Photo of Mark Hoban Mark Hoban The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

I am sorry that my hon. Friend the Member for West Suffolk is not here to listen to my response to his intervention. He was right that prohibition is both a punishment and a deterrent, and that the risk of being deprived of one’s livelihood is a deterrent to those who transgress.

Let me deal with amendment 145. In her remarks, the hon. Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun recognised the fact that the FSA already publishes a public record of various matters, including all individuals subject to a prohibition order. It does that on a website, setting out the reason why the order has been given and the contact information for anyone who needs further information. We expect the PRA and FCA to do likewise.

Given that the information is in the public domain, I do not agree that we need to duplicate it on the Treasury website. There is a risk of information being fragmented and people not knowing who is responsible for what. I should have thought that the best answer is to ensure that it is in one place, and that we recognise and know where it is. Moving it to the Treasury website would serve no purpose whatever.

With amendment 146, the hon. Lady wants to ensure that, if the FCA changes its policy towards designating controlled functions, it must report to Parliament on the reasons for any changes. The designation of controlled functions is done using rules, and the PRA and FCA will be required to consult publicly on all rules, including those. It would be a little odd to require regulatory reports specifically to Parliament on that set of rules, as opposed to any others. The Treasury does not need to maintain an extra website. It would be odd to single out one set of rules from others in respect of what should be reported specifically to Parliament, so I ask her not to press the amendments.

Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Shadow Minister (Treasury)

It is an absolute pleasure to be back here this evening. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.] Hopefully, we can make the Minister happy once again—although perhaps that will not apply to all the members of the Committee who have to remain with us.

On a serious point, I wish to refer the comments of the hon. Member for West Suffolk who promoted me to the Whips Office during his contribution to the debate. I always hold the Whips in the highest esteem wherever  I am. That is always wise action to take. The hon. Gentleman made some important points. I understood his argument. He said that he accepted why we wanted transparency, and information to act both as information in itself but as a deterrent.

I recognise the argument about publishing on only one website, but I am slightly bemused why the Minister believes that the Treasury website is not perhaps an ideal place to hold such information. If people were looking for information, they would want to know from a Government website exactly what it is. Surely that would be one of the places that people would look rather than trying to find the information elsewhere. If the hon. Gentleman can assure me that there will be enough publicity or information to highlight where the list of prohibited people will be held so that people can obtain that information, I shall withdraw the amendment. I am not quite sure that I received such an assurance.

Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Shadow Minister (Treasury)

It is always helpful to receive a “yes” answer from the Minister.

Amendment 146 is consistent with what we have been trying to achieve throughout our proceedings. If that aim has not been registered by now, I will explain. At every opportunity, we want to emphasise the importance of Parliament not only in scrutinising the processes, but to have the opportunity to receive reports at a later stage and be able to comment on them. However, given that the hon. Gentleman said that there will be public consultation on the rules, at this moment in the evening it would probably be wise of me to take his word. If we consider at a later date that it is not a reasonable way in which to proceed, no doubt we will come back to it. However, for the purposes of this debate, I am happy not to press the amendments.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Shadow Minister (Treasury)

Again, I will try to be as brief as possible. In general, we agree with most of the changes made in respect of prohibition orders but, as I said in the context of earlier amendments, we are keen to ensure that accountability and transparency are in place for those changes. We have heard about the importance of information being available to people and ensuring that information about those who are prohibited— if not quite named and shamed; I do not like that terminology—is at least made available to the public. On the basis of the assurances that I have received from the Minister, I do not intend to oppose the clause.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 11 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.