Clause 35 makes two small technical amendments to the UK’s version of the European market infrastructure regulation. This is important to help improve the overall functioning of the UK’s regulatory regime for derivatives.
The first amendment to UK EMIR will promote transparency and accessibility in the clearing of derivatives transactions, by ensuring that the clearing members of UK central counterparties and their clients offer clearing services on
“fair, reasonable, non-discriminatory and transparent” commercial terms. Clearing contributes to the safety of the UK’s financial markets, especially our derivatives markets. It does this by ensuring that a trade will still be honoured if one party to a contract does not fulfil their side—for example, if a firm goes bust. This will reduce barriers to accessing clearing services, which will in turn make it easier for firms to fulfil their clearing obligations. It will strengthen incentives to clear centrally and reduce systemic risk in financial markets.
The second amendment to UK EMIR will increase transparency in derivatives markets. Such transparency is vital to ensure that regulators in the UK can monitor risks in financial markets and ensure financial stability. This amendment will also make the environment in which trade repositories operate more competitive. This is achieved through ensuring that trade repositories put in place procedures to improve the quality of the data they collect, and establish policies to transfer their data to other trade repositories in an orderly fashion when it is necessary to do so. Trade repositories collect and maintain records of derivatives trades with the aim of helping regulators to monitor the build-up of systemic risk.
Overall, these two sensible technical amendments to UK EMIR will bolster the UK’s regulation of derivatives markets, further delivering on the UK’s G20 commitments in this area. I therefore recommend that the clause stand part of the Bill.
I have just one question. As the Minister said, this clause deals with the EMIR directive, which governs the sale of over-the-counter derivates. To add to our joys, we have EMIR and something called EMIR refit. The clause is about access to clearing for people dealing in these products. Over-the-counter derivates are perhaps among the more opaque financial services products on the market, but we learnt during the financial crisis that whatever their other qualities, these products exposed the interconnection between different companie, and the vulnerability of that interconnection. That is why clearing is important. It acts as what could be called a circuit breaker to ensure that if one party to the transaction gets into trouble, we do not have a domino effect right throughout the system, so the clause is designed to ensure that smaller traders have access to this circuit breaker or clearing activity. I ask the Minister: is what we are doing here mirroring what the EU have done through this EMIR refit process, or are the two measures in this clause—the data one, and the fair and transparent one—a departure in any way from that?
The changes are almost identical to those made through EMIR refit in the EU. The UK played a pivotal role in the design of the EMIR refit and previously voted in favour of this legislation. Now that the UK has left the EU, we continue to believe that these measures are helpful to UK industry and will improve the financial stability of the UK. As I said, the FCA will design the implementation of the new frameworks in a way that works best for the UK. In making these observations, I underscore the comments I have made throughout that we will always seek to maintain the highest standards but to make them work optimally in the United Kingdom.