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Clause 30 - Power to take disciplinary measures against recognised bodies

Part of Financial Services Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:00 pm on 8th March 2012.

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Photo of Mark Hoban Mark Hoban The Financial Secretary to the Treasury 4:00 pm, 8th March 2012

I have dealt already in my intervention with the first amendment tabled by the hon. Member for Foyle. I do not think it is necessary. It is covered in section 389 of FSMA. The same safeguard would apply when a disciplinary action is not followed through. There will have to be a notification of discontinuation there as well.

The RDC is a non-statutory body. It is composed of FSA executives. There is an appeal mechanism to the tribunal for firms to follow. Where regulatory decisions are taken with the FCA or the PRA, there needs to be a robust decision-making process, with the people who have not been involved in gathering the evidence against also taking part, so that a range of executives at the senior level is involved. I am keen to ensure that people at a senior level on both the FCA and the PRA are engaged in these processes to add their judgment to it. I do not think the RDC needs to be put on a statutory basis but the hon. Gentleman is absolutely right that there should be a proper process within the regulators to ensure that a robust decision is taken on disciplinary action.

On consultation, this is not about seeking consent. There are two arguments here. One group of people in the industry say that we should not have this at all and that we should not publish warning notices. I think we should. It is vital that if disciplinary action is to be taken it should be made known and the warning notice point is the right stage to do it. My concern is that without telling somebody that this will happen, we risk seeing emergency injunctions. People will criticise and say that there is a lack of due process. We need to get the balance right here so that there is adequate protection in places where saying that that has been done is not appropriate.

The clear drive here is to ensure that these notices are published and that situations where they cannot be published and should not be published are narrowly prescribed. That gets the balance right. I have thought carefully about the PLS recommendation. We are in danger of getting in an even bigger mess around human rights and the question whether it is a breach of proper administrative process. Telling firms that this will happen risks the odd injunction but it also avoids the bigger problem of this power being used to get enmeshed in legal debate and argument. The consultation, which is not consent, gets the power in a place where it can be used effectively. I hope that hon. Members will not feel obliged to push their amendments.