Clause 5 - Prudential regulation of credit institutions etc by PRA rules

Financial Services Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:00 pm on 24 November 2020.

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

Photo of Rupa Huq Rupa Huq Labour, Ealing Central and Acton

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

New clause 1—Annual review of the CRR rules—

“(1) The Secretary of State must, once each financial year, prepare, publish and lay before Parliament a review of the changes to CRR rules made by the PRA in the relevant financial year.

(2) The review must include an assessment of the impact of any changes to CRR

rules on—

(a) consumers;

(b) competitiveness; and

(c) the wider economy.”

This new clause would require regular reviews of any departures from the current regime of capital requirements.

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

This is my third attempt to get the Government to commit to reporting on the impact of these measures. Clause 5 and the accompanying provisions in schedule 3 insert new part 9D into the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. This new part 9D will empower the PRA to make changes to capital requirements regulation rules. Schedule 3 also sets out the accountability framework, which we have discussed quite a lot throughout the day.

New clause 1 is an attempt to understand and explain the effect of changing these rules. It calls for an annual review to be published of changes to the CRR rules and their impact on consumers, competitiveness and the wider economy. As with similar amendments, all of this is an attempt to ensure that we do not simply pass all these powers from the EU to UK regulators without having processes in place, making clear what the changes we are making do and giving Parliament a proper voice in debate over these matters.

As I have said in relation to other amendments that, as things stand, unless we strengthen the parliamentary side of this, we could end up having less input to these issues in the future than we do at present. All these capital rules are there for a reason. We have thrashed it out today. It is important that we have proper transparency and a full understanding of the consequences if we depart from these rules in a significant way in the future.

My hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow described these amendments as mild. I think they are mild. None of them say even that we should not have any of these departures. They simply ask for some process to understand the effect of them, which is open to Parliament. That is what new clause 1 would do.

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

I really respect the right hon. Gentleman’s approach to this. It is very constructive. I accept his frustration with what I am saying, but I do respect his patience with me through this process. Each time, I will try to justify what we are doing.

This Bill enables the implementation, as the right hon. Gentleman understands, of the Basel standards. That will be done by deletion of parts of the capital requirements regulation that need to be updated, so that the PRA can make those Basel updates in their rules. As a result, we will see a split in this prudential regime, perhaps temporarily, depending on the end result of the future regulatory framework across legislation and regulatory rules.

The regime is already split in this way to an extent, with some rules for firms set directly by regulators and others contained in retained EU law or law that has originated in this Parliament, and it will continue to work in this way. However, we will seek to ensure that this is done as effectively as possible through clause 5. Clause 5 ensures that cross-references between legislation and PRA rules work properly on an ongoing basis. It also requires the PRA to publish an explanatory document outlining how it all fits together. Finally, the clause introduces schedule 3, which contains further detail to ensure that the regime works. As the elements contained in the clause help to ensure a workable framework for the UK to remain Basel-compliant, I recommend that the clause stand part of the Bill.

New clause 1 seeks to add an annual reporting requirement, as the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton South East said, for the Government to carry out and publish a review of PRA rules that implement the Basel standards, including an assessment of the impact of changes to the rules on consumers, competitiveness and the wider economy. The Bill will require the PRA to demonstrate how it has regard to several considerations: the international standards that it seeks to implement, the relative standing of the UK and the ability to finance businesses and consumers sustainably.

However, I regret that the amendment has the potential to duplicate the PRA’s reporting duties. I respectfully contend that this additional annual reporting requirement is not necessary, because through the Bill the PRA will also be required to publish a summary of the purpose of the rules it makes when implementing the Basel standards and an explanation of how it has complied with its reporting duties. Furthermore, the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 already requires the PRA to make an annual report to the Chancellor on its activities, including on the extent to which its objectives have been advanced and how it considered existing regulatory principles in discharging its functions. The Chancellor must lay that report before Parliament.

I therefore question whether the proposed review would really provide much more insight than what the current reporting arrangements already achieve. I have myself checked whether there are no reporting requirements and we are entering some sort of wild west environment, but I do not think that that is the case. The amendment duplicates efforts that are already in place. Ultimately, to require the Treasury to undertake such an assessment would undermine this delegation and the regulator’s independence. I therefore ask the right hon. Gentleman not to move the amendment.

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

The Minister has given a pot 3 defence. I apologise for using that in-joke from this morning’s session; I am happy to explain it to you later, Dr Huq. A pot 3 defence means that it is already covered. It is my pleasure not to move the amendment.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 5 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.