Examination of Witnesses

Part of Financial Services Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:11 pm on 19th November 2020.

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Jesse Griffiths:

Thank you. I think they are extremely important questions, and that is one reason why this Bill is so important as part of the other important consultations and discussions that you have mentioned—because we are now setting, if you like, the precedent for how we might deal with financial sector regulation in the new era, where the focus will be in London and not in Brussels. Actually, I worked for seven years in Brussels on related issues, so I have some experience from there to share.

I think I agree with the points that Fran has made about the fundamental importance of trying to find ways to support broader civil society engagement in these types of discussion. Perhaps it links to another important point on the Bill, which is that part of the issue will always be ensuring that the purpose of the regulations and the regulators includes social and environmental purpose, so that it is clear that that is an extremely relevant angle from which to discuss these things. One thing that definitely came out of my experience in Brussels was that the role of Parliament is very important, or can be very important, not just because it is important in itself, but because it does open a window for broader input and discussion.

I will explain one particular amendment or change we would welcome. As I understand it, the current Bill allows changes to capital requirements and other regulations under the affirmative procedure. That is obviously more welcome than the negative procedure, but it does not actually specify a role for specialised Committees, so finding a way in which specialised Committees in the House of Common or Lords, or both, could have input would be both a useful step and an entry point for a broader discussion for groups likes ours to help to support the new framework.

Could I say one other thing on a kind of related point? We recognise that it is important that different institutions have different regulatory frameworks and that this is not just about making every single type of institution abide by extremely stringent regulations. That sort of principle is involved in the Bill, and we would welcome that being extended to, for example, the nascent mutual banking movement. We know that the co-operative banking movement is struggling to get off the ground, because the regulations are not tailored to its particular circumstance. I would be willing to talk more about that. It is something that could perhaps also accompany this Bill as a commitment and that Government might like to think about.