Clause 59 - Duty to lay direction etc before Parliament

Financial Services Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 8:45 pm on 20th March 2012.

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

Photo of Chris Leslie Chris Leslie Shadow Minister (Treasury)

The clause requires the Treasury to lay before Parliament a copy of a direction given under clause 57, which deals with the power of direction, as well as any reports provided by the Bank under clause 58 and any notices of revocation of directions.

We talked a little about some of those issues on amendment 192, but I am concerned that there is only a partial duty to lay documents before Parliament. The amendment was intended to tighten up the conditions on when the Bank should publish documents, but we also need to ensure through the clause that Parliament has access to details of any changes. Subsection (3) says:

“the Treasury…must from time to time review” decisions, and it must publish documents if it decides that it is no longer in the public interest to withhold them.

It would also be helpful if the Minister could set out who will judge the appropriate frequency for reviews of such arrangements in the Treasury. Does he not think that these internal reviews, which will take place from time to time, should be published alongside the other documents, so that Parliament can see them? That would ensure proper transparency and accountability.

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

Ultimately, responsibility for the frequency of the reviews and decisions will be with Ministers, and I think that is appropriate.

Photo of Chris Leslie Chris Leslie Shadow Minister (Treasury)

It is true that they will be the responsibility of Ministers, but I was trying to get a sense of the time scales the Minister was thinking about and what the frequency of the reviews would be, but it does not appear that much thought has gone into that so far. In general, it would be helpful if we tried to keep to the principle of having parliamentary accountability for as many of these things as possible. The Minister knows my feelings about the super-affirmative procedure for affirmative orders more broadly, but we should always err on the side of putting documents before the House of Commons and the House of Lords if possible. However, I have made my point.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 59 accordinglyordered to stand part of the Bill.