Clause 2 - Prudential regulation of certain investment firms by FCA rules

Financial Services Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:30 am on 24 November 2020.

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

Photo of John Glen John Glen Minister of State (Treasury) (City), The Economic Secretary to the Treasury

This short clause gives effect to schedule 2, which inserts provisions that will enable the introduction of an investment firm’s prudential regime into the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. I therefore recommend that it stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Pat McFadden Pat McFadden Shadow Economic Secretary (Treasury)

I do not really have substantial questions at this stage, because schedule 2 sets out the detail, and I think we will probably have an extensive debate on it.

Photo of Angela Eagle Angela Eagle Labour, Wallasey

The clause inserts a new part 9C into the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, which forms the legal basis for the new regime that the Bill introduces for investment companies. We have been talking about the minimum amount of capital required. We have covered some of that, although we will get further into it when we come to the Basel 3.1 bits.

Will the Minister say a bit about remuneration policies? That is another issue that will be regulated. We know from what happened in the financial crash and the build-up to that bubble that remuneration policies formed a key part of the bad incentives that created the behaviour that caused the crash. How will the Government be dealing with the regulators about remuneration? What will the principles be? Getting the right incentives for remuneration is a key driver for behaviour, and behaviour is a key driver for activities in that area, as we know only too well. If we did not know that from 2008, we would know it from the Wall Street crash in 1929. It is part of a set pattern. How will the Government ask the regulators to deal with that issue?

Photo of John Glen John Glen Minister of State (Treasury) (City), The Economic Secretary to the Treasury

I am happy to respond to that. The risk that the hon. Lady sets out—that, broadly, this country will go down a route where we deviate significantly from the new established norms of the regulation of remuneration and the rules around rewards and bonuses and so on—is a matter for which the regulator has responsibility. It will be incumbent on the Government to look at evolving best practice and the appropriate way to bring continuity to such regulations in line with those highest standards.

It is not our wish to create deviation for the sake of it. We will continue to look at the market situation. The point has been made already that we have to be alert to evolving new practices. In the same way, I think the hon. Lady would acknowledge that, in the light of the last crisis, there was an evolution in business models with respect to high-cost credit. There is always a risk in the sort of environment that we are in now that there will be new developments. I cannot prescribe precisely how we will look forward, but we will look to adhere to global high standards, because the integrity of our reputation relies on it.

Photo of Angela Eagle Angela Eagle Labour, Wallasey

I thank the Minister for his indulgence. Clause 2 is also partly about enforcing regulations; there are references to fraud and criminal offences, which again we will come to in more detail later. Will he let us know whether fraud enforcement will be beefed up? We can have a great regulatory regime and redefine fraudulent behaviour, but if enforcement is not up to scratch, that will not really deter. This is area where, if enforcement is too weak, the rewards are very high and the risk of being caught and prosecuted or fined is very low. Can he give some reassurance on that point at this stage?

Photo of John Glen John Glen Minister of State (Treasury) (City), The Economic Secretary to the Treasury

I am happy to. The hon. Lady makes a fair and reasonable point. We have to maintain the highest standards of regulation. The FCA and the PRA are extremely well respected globally, but that does not lead me as the Minister to be complacent. We must continually be vigilant about whether those standards of compliance and intervention into non-compliance are sufficient and adequate. We will always seek to maintain that.

To return to the principle, these capital requirements for firms are extremely detailed and technical. The regulators have the right expertise to update them. They will have increased responsibility, but they will need to consider the principles set out in the Bill. We are following the advice of the House of Lords Financial Affairs Sub-Committee, which said that these delegations would be appropriate. The broader conversation about the direction of travel around what sort of framework we wish to have in the UK is not fully addressed at this moment, but there will be more to say in the context of the response to the future regulatory framework two-stage review and the legislation we bring forward subsequently.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 2 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.