New Clause 2 - Depositor preference in insolvency

Financial Services Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:25 am on 22nd March 2012.

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‘The Treasury shall bring forward regulations to ensure FSCS insured deposits are moved above other unsecured creditors and above floating charge holders in the creditor hierarchy in the event of insolvency or any imposition of losses in resolution.’.—(Chris Leslie.)

Brought up.

Question put, That the clause be added to the Bill.

The Committee divided: Ayes 8, Noes 10.

Division number 48 Decision Time — New Clause 2 - Depositor preference in insolvency

Aye: 8 MPs

No: 10 MPs

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Nos: A-Z by last name

Question accordingly negatived.

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

On a point of order, Mr Leigh. May I begin by saying how grateful I am to you and your colleagues Mr Howarth and Mr Gray for your expert guidance of the Committee’s deliberations on this important Bill? You have had the opportunity to demonstrate the many qualities that are needed of a Committee Chair, for example wisdom, objectivity, fairness and a keen understanding of procedure. Perhaps above all, you have been called upon to show great reserves of patience while the Committee has gone through the slow—sometimes, I would argue, unnecessarily slow—business of scrutinising the Bill. I thought we saw a head of steam build up late on Tuesday night, but that seems to have rather dissipated this morning. However, we have discussed all the key substantive clauses to give effect to the new regulatory system, and I would like to pay tribute to the work of all members of the Committee in that regard.

Inevitably, we have focused on some areas more than others. Perhaps most surprisingly, Government amendments 92, 93 and 122 received particularly searching scrutiny and revealed hitherto undreamt-of levels of interest by the hon. Member for Nottingham East in the use of Roman as opposed to Arabic numerals, and upper case versus lower case letters. I can only assume that that willingness to devote so much of the Committee’s time to those key issues means that he is broadly content with the rest of the Bill.

The debate has been wide ranging, including geographically. The hon. Members for Edinburgh East, for Kilmarnock and Loudoun—who had commendably brief remarks to make on the Bill—and for Foyle have championed the interests of Scotland and Northern Ireland respectively. We should not forget the hon. Member for Islwyn and his contributions.

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

I am not giving way on a point of order.

The debate has ranged even further afield, touching on the vexed question of what we should call the inhabitants of Gibraltar—Gibraltans or Gibraltarians. I am advised that the latter is correct, although “people of Gibraltar” is also acceptable.

I am grateful to my hon. Friends for their loyal support, despite some tweakings by members of the Treasury Committee. Its reports were often commented upon by the hon. Member for Nottingham East. I am particularly grateful for the frequent attendance of my hon. Friend the Member for West Suffolk.

Our debates have been lively. The hon. Member for Leeds North East has been reprimanded for bringing in a forbidden substance, although porridge clearly does not have the same stimulating effects as other forbidden substances. In general, the Committee has been gastronomically-minded: we have fretted about legislative spaghetti; we have pondered the effectiveness of cupcakes as a lobbying tool—regardless of that, I am sure we all agree that cupcakes are a good thing—and the generosity of my hon. Friend the Whip in supplying plentiful supplies of coffee has ensured that my colleagues have remained awake and always been ready to spring into action during Divisions.

I am grateful to my officials for their work in providing support on the Bill, and for drafting the excellent explanatory notes that we have all relied on so carefully in Committee. I thank the Clerks, the Hansard reporters, the Committee staff and the police for their hard work in keeping things running. I particularly thank the Doorkeepers, who have been kept on their toes by the number of Divisions in Committee.

Photo of Chris Leslie Chris Leslie Shadow Minister (Treasury)

Further to that point of order, Mr Leigh. First, I record my disappointment that we have run out of time in scrutinising—[ Interruption. ] I am sorry that hon. Members seem so happy to be free of the strictures of being in Committee. To be serious, more than 20 clauses have not been scrutinised. Some 35 sittings were dedicated to the then Financial Services and Markets Bill, but the Government’s programme order gave this Bill only 16 sittings. At the outset, we thought we could deal with the substance of the Bill during that time, but it quickly transpired that that was not possible. I hope that the other place takes notice of that, because several clauses and schedules have gone through undebated, and the serious detail in them has not been discussed.

I pay tribute to you, Mr Leigh, and to the other hon. Members who have chaired the Committee, sometimes with great patience and fortitude. That has been much appreciated. I also pay tribute to the Clerks of the House, who have helped to frame the technical language of the considerable number of amendments that we tabled. I pay a personal tribute to my hon. Friends, who have been exceptionally patient throughout a long period. I am grateful for their contributions, and to my hon.  Friend the Member for Foyle for the excellence he brought to the Committee. I pay tribute to the team in my office for their help. They are a small but perfectly formed team.

I also want to stretch my hand across the Room and thank the Minister. He has demonstrated a strong grasp of the legislation and has been able to answer questions diligently. That is, in no small part, also thanks to the excellent team of civil servants and officials who support him. In The Times the day before yesterday, I saw a pyramid of hierarchy within the Treasury. The Minister featured on the bottom rung of the pyramid, and the Government Whip was in the tier above the Minister in closer proximity to the Chancellor.

Photo of Greg Hands Greg Hands Assistant Whip (HM Treasury)

The hon. Gentleman had the newspaper upside down.

Photo of Chris Leslie Chris Leslie Shadow Minister (Treasury)

The hon. Gentleman is too modest. I must pay tribute to the Whips and the usual channels who tried their best to make sure that we made smooth progress. Even further up that hierarchy was the hon. Member for West Suffolk. He has been an omnipresent force in Committee. He has been silent, yet able to pull the strings of those who are in formal positions of power. He managed to keep a beady eye on their behaviour. No doubt he will report back to the Chancellor on the sad progress that we have made on the Bill. It is a shame that we have not been able to finish it, but I pay tribute to all those involved.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Chair, Public Accounts Commission, Chair, Public Accounts Commission

On behalf of myself and my fellow Chairmen, I thank you, Mr Leslie, and you, Mr Hoban, for behaving yourselves so well. Mr Howarth has enjoyed listening to you all so much that he has now fled to Israel, leaving me to take this enjoyable part of the Bill to its final conclusion. I thank the Clerk for looking after us Chairmen so expertly and making sure that we did not get the procedure wrong. I also thank the Doorkeepers. Thank you all for being so well behaved. The high point was when Mr Leslie broke into Latin; he did it very well. We have all enjoyed ourselves very much.

May I pay particular tribute to the two Front-Bench spokesmen? I know that reading out a Treasury brief may look easy, but it is remarkably hard. The Minister has really been on top of the job dealing with very difficult questions. If there are any representatives of the Labour Whips Office here, may I congratulate Mr Leslie? Speaking at such great length while remaining in order and not being tediously repetitious is not easy. He has never been tediously repetitious.

I shall miss you all very much.

Bill, as amended, to be reported.

Committee rose.