New Clause 31 - Parliamentary scrutiny of FCA provisions

Financial Services Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:45 pm on 3 December 2020.

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“(none) Any provision made by the Financial Conduct Authority under this Act may not be made unless a draft of the provision has been laid before and approved by a resolution of the House of Commons.” —

This new clause subjects FCA provisions under this Act to the affirmative scrutiny procedure in the House of Commons.

Brought up, and read the First time.

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

With this it will be convenient to discuss

New clause 32—Scrutiny of FCA Powers by committees—

“(1) No provision may be made by the Financial Conduct Authority under this Act unless the conditions in subsection (2) are satisfied.

(2) The conditions in are that—

(a) a new statutory committee comprising Members of the House of Commons has been established to scrutinise financial regulation, and

(b) a new statutory committee comprising Members of the House of Lords has been established to scrutinise financial regulation.

(3) The Treasury must, by regulations, make provision for and about those committees.

(4) Those regulations must provide that the committees have at least as much power as the relevant committees of the European Union.”

This new clause requires statutory financial regulation scrutiny committees to be established before the FCA can make provisions under this Bill.

Photo of Stephen Flynn Stephen Flynn Shadow SNP Deputy Spokesperson (Treasury - Financial Secretary)

I will be incredibly brief. Again, both new clauses 31 and 32 are about oversight and scrutiny. I have absolutely no doubt that Conservative Members will want to take back parliamentary sovereignty and ensure that this place has oversight of the Government’s actions.

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

I think I have previously detailed my response to new clauses 22 and 26 why it would not be appropriate for Parliament to scrutinise all regulator rules made in relation to those two specific measures. These new clauses go further, and would require all rules made by the Financial Conduct Authority in relation to anything within this Bill to be approved by Parliament before the rules can be made, and would prevent the FCA from exercising its powers effectively. New clause 31 would make the FCA’s rule making subject to parliamentary approval. New clause 32 prevents the FCA from making rules under the Bill until two new parliamentary Committees are established. The same arguments that I made previously are relevant here: new clause 31 would apply a higher level of parliamentary scrutiny—to the FCA only—when making rules in areas covered by the Bill. That would mean that those areas were inconsistent with other areas of financial services regulation not covered by this Bill or within the remit of the Prudential Regulation Authority, which will retain the existing scrutiny requirements.

Parliament would need routinely to scrutinise a large number of detailed new rules on an ongoing basis. That is very different from the model that Parliament has previously put in place for the regulators under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, where it has judged it appropriate for the regulators to take these detailed technical decisions where they hold expertise.

Turning briefly to new clause 32, although I note that Select Committees of both Houses already have the option to scrutinise the regulators as they see fit, it is naturally for Parliament to decide how best it wishes to scrutinise financial services regulation. However, I do not believe that it is appropriate to make the introduction of an investment firms prudential regime, or any of the other changes enabled by this Bill, subject to the establishment of new parliamentary Committees. Nor do I believe it is for the Treasury to make regulations related to the establishment or functioning of parliamentary Committees. As the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton South East pointed out in an earlier sitting, that is a matter for the House to decide.

I would like to reassure the Committee that I am committed to ensuring appropriate accountability and scrutiny around new rules for our financial sector. That is why I recently published a consultation document on the review of the future regulatory framework for financial services. This review seeks to achieve the right split of responsibilities between Parliament, Government, and the regulators now that we have left the EU. It seeks views, including those of all parliamentarians, on how we can best scrutinise and hold the regulators to account, while respecting and safeguarding their independence. I look forward to engaging with hon. Members on that subject but, given what I have said, I suggest that they might consider withdrawing the new clause.

Photo of Stephen Flynn Stephen Flynn Shadow SNP Deputy Spokesperson (Treasury - Financial Secretary)

I am not surprised, but I am disappointed. I would like press new clause 31 to a vote.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.

Division number 15 Financial Services Bill — New Clause 31 - Parliamentary scrutiny of FCA provisions

Aye: 6 MPs

No: 10 MPs

Aye: A-Z by last name

No: A-Z by last name

The Committee divided: Ayes 6, Noes 10.

Question accordingly negatived.