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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Fran Boait:

I think we agree that this is the critical part of the Bill. That is why I mentioned the suggestion that has been put forward of a new potential Joint Committee between the Commons and the Lords. That would be absolutely right. The direction of the financial services sector is fundamental to the direction of the UK. We are really at a crossroads. We have been a large financial sector in the world, and generally the Treasury would say that it has prioritised the international competitiveness of our financial sector in the global market. It has held that in greater reverence than domestic competition that serves the needs of the people—your constituents, your businesses and the productive UK economy.

I think it is in Parliament’s interests to think about how we set up processes for greater scrutiny and about engaging civil society actors in that as well. I would have thought that quite a few people sitting within those regulatory bodies would welcome that. They are under immense stress from the last 10 years of post-crash change. As I mentioned, they are subject to legal challenge from the industry.

Although, ideally, there would be greater scrutiny in Parliament, and I think that a Joint Committee would be good, some of the amendments that have been tabled on specifics, such as an annual review of capital regulation requirements, are really great additions—I hope the amendment on that will go through.

I also think that we need to ensure that the regulators are given the right direction for financial services, which is why I would also welcome the amendment that was put to us about this Government’s strategy for financial services. As I said, we are at a kind of crossroads, and understanding what direction the Government want to take it in is critical for the regulators. I support a lot of the amendments that have been put forward. Setting up a new Select Committee or some kind of Joint Committee is also a strong proposal.