Schedule 3 - Prudential regulation of credit institutions etc

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

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Photo of Alison Thewliss Alison Thewliss Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Treasury) 4:00, 24 November 2020

I beg to move amendment 40, in schedule 3, page 79, line 25, after “activities” insert

“in the UK and internationally”.

This amendment would ensure the likely effect of the rules on the relative standing of the United Kingdom as a place for internationally active credit institutions and investment firms to be based or to carry on activities are considered both in terms of their UK and international activities before Part CRR rules are taken.

This is quite a modest amendment. The Bill is supposed to ensure that Scotland, the City and the rest of the UK remain internationally competitive but robustly regulated, as the sector and everyone beyond a few marketeer ideologues are looking for. The amendment seeks simply to ensure that the FCA has regard to the standing of the UK as a base for financial firms that operate internationally. It is a kind of reflection amendment. It is common sense. It is really a drafting amendment. There is not terribly much more to it.

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

As I have said, the UK is committed to maintaining its high standards. We heard during evidence sessions last week that these high standards will not hinder the UK’s ambition to remain an attractive place to carry out business. None the less, the Government want to ensure that our regulators have specific regard to these ambitions, particularly for international businesses, which bring jobs and innovation and, I believe, improve our economic prospects and prosperity.

The amendment aims to ensure that that is the case, and I welcome the intention, but I reassure the Committee that the Bill as drafted will deliver that. I highlight in particular to the hon. Member for Glasgow Central that subsections (1)(b) and (2) of proposed new section 144C to the 2000 Act requires the PRA to

“consider the United Kingdom’s standing in relation to the other countries and territories” that could affect where international firms

“are most likely to choose to be based or carry on activities.”

I believe that that is adequate to address the concerns that have been raised.

It is not entirely clear what the addition of the words in the amendment would deliver. We must be careful not to create ambiguity. The provisions as drafted are important instruction for the PRA to clearly understand the responsibility bestowed upon it. It is important that Parliament also has that clarity so that it can hold regulators to account. I am afraid that I must therefore ask the hon. Lady to withdraw her amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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

I beg to move amendment 27, in schedule 3, page 80, line 8, at end insert—

“(7) The PRA must, at least once every five years, review the provisions of this section.

(8) The Treasury must lay before Parliament a report setting out—

(a) the outcomes of this review; and

(b) any changes the Treasury proposes to make as a result of this review.

(9) The Treasury may by regulations make any changes identified in subsection (8)(b).

(10) Regulations under subsection (9) may not be made unless a draft has been laid before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.”

This amendment would ensure there is a review of the accountability framework for regulators once in each Parliament and give it a role in approving subsequent changes to the accountability framework.

This will be my last attempt. I have tried to get reviews after six months, one year and three years; this is the attempt at once in every Parliament. Of all the mild amendments, this has to be the mildest. Once in every Parliament, we are asking for the PRA to review the provisions of proposed new section 144C in schedule 3, and for the Treasury to lay before Parliament a report setting out the outcomes of that review and any changes that it proposes to make as a result. I really think it reasonable to expect that as a minimum, given the sensitivity and potential combustibility of the provisions, which is why we have tabled the amendment.

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

On a human level, I have found this process quite challenging, because my instincts are to try to accommodate the right hon. Gentleman when he sounds so reasonable and plausible. The amendment seeks to introduce a requirement to review the PRA’s accountability framework for Basel implementation and, as he said, it would require the PRA to conduct a review every five years, which is the least demanding of his requests today.

It is right to ensure that the accountability framework is fit for purpose and up to date. Indeed, that is one of the aims that we want to achieve through the Bill: flexible and agile regulation. The Bill’s purpose is to enable the implementation of the Basel standards, and the international deadline for Basel 3.1 reforms is 1 January 2023. By 1 January 2023, the bulk of Basel-related rules made as a result of the Bill should therefore already be published. The accountability framework that the Bill introduces for the PRA to make rules to meet Basel requirements relates only to the implementation of the specific so-called Basel 3.1 rules and does not relate to the ongoing prudential regulation of financial service firms that is being considered by the future regulatory framework review. The review is consulting on the important split of responsibilities between Parliament, Government and the regulators now that the UK has left the EU.

Reflecting the wisdom of the right hon. Gentleman with respect to the value of reviews, in that context a five-year review would clearly be appropriate. However, in the current context, it would be inappropriate to ask the PRA to report on an Act of Parliament given that the Bill already includes a more appropriate reporting requirement for the PRA, as set out in proposed new section 144D, that is adapted for the CRR rules. That requirement is to publish an explanation of how the matters in the accountability framework have impacted on the PRA’s rules whenever it consults on and publishes final rules to implement Basel. That will directly attend to the logic and rationale for what it has done.

The amendment would also add a new power for the Treasury in relation to the accountability framework. The Treasury already has a similar power in the Bill to add additional matters for the PRA to consider. The power proposed in the amendment goes further, allowing the Treasury to amend the list, including removing matters from it. It is not clear to me why the Treasury should ever remove, for example, the requirement for the PRA to have regard to the Basel standards. Such matters are immediately pertinent to the prudential regime and would have been agreed by Parliament through the Bill process. Therefore, the existing provisions in the accountability framework already appear to achieve the aims intended in the amendment in the best way possible and, as such, do not need to change. For those reasons, I regret to ask the right hon. Gentleman to withdraw the amendment.

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

Is the Minister saying that if there were a Basel 3.2 or a Basel IV process—that is quite likely, because at some point there will be a revision to the capital rules because things change and the system has to evolve—somehow the part 9D provisions cannot be used? Are they only for Basel 3.1? That is the implication of his response. I would have thought that giving the regulator powers over all those areas would be applicable to future Basel revisions and not just this one. In other words, we are not making a regulatory snapshot; we are creating a movie. This is a genuine question: the part 9D rules must be applicable to any future revisions of the Basel process, too. If so, there is a strong case for a once-in-a-Parliament review of how that is going.

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

Those rules will have regard to future Basels. The reporting mechanism we have and the accountability to Parliament when those rules are published is more immediate and comprehensive. My contention is that a five-year provision would be out of date because we would have done it by then. That is why I am apprehensive about the right hon. Gentleman’s suggestion.

However, within the context of the future regulatory review—I cannot be bound on the outcome of that, because it is genuinely consultative—and what would be the appropriate reporting, there is a difference between short-term reporting on a particular measure or decision and a more fundamental review of the strategic dynamics of the relationship between the regulators, which we have seen evolve over decades. On the principle, there may be the need to have something like that. I am straining to be positive and constructive in my engagement with the right hon. Gentleman.

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

The truth is that there is no science about what is exactly the best timetable for reviewing these things. I am not pretending that one of the various timescales that we have mooted is perfect, and there is probably a legitimate debate to be had about that. However, as the Minister has just confirmed that we have given the regulator the power to make rule changes regarding future Basel changes on an ongoing basis—I am sure he is right about that—having a review and a report on this once every five years is a reasonable timescale to say what the impact of these things has been. I therefore wish to push the amendment to a Division.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

Division number 5 Financial Services Bill — Schedule 3 - Prudential regulation of credit institutions etc

Aye: 5 MPs

No: 10 MPs

Aye: A-Z by last name

No: A-Z by last name

The Committee divided: Ayes 5, Noes 10.

Question accordingly negatived.

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

I beg to move amendment 2, in schedule 3, page 84, line 19, leave out paragraph (b) and insert—

“(b) section 144D (explanation to accompany consultation on rules);

(c) section 144E(1) and (4) to (7) (exceptions from sections 144C and 144D).”

This amendment corrects the explanatory words in a list of provisions that apply to section 192XA rules that are not CRR rules.

This technical amendment corrects a reference to words contained in parentheses to make it clear that those words apply only to proposed new section 144D to the 2000 Act, and it adds the correct words in parentheses to the references in proposed new section 144E. The words in parentheses explain the scope of the clause.

Amendment 2 agreed to.

Schedule 3, as amended, agreed to.