Financial Services and Markets Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:15 am on 25th October 2022.
With this it will be convenient to discuss clause 7 stand part.
Clause 6 supports the efficient transfer of financial services regulation from retained EU law to the regulators’ rulebooks. As retained EU law is revoked, the regulators will take on significant new responsibilities for making rules in areas where EU law currently exists, within the framework set by the Treasury and Parliament through FSMA and enhanced by this Bill. Part of that wider framework sets out the processes that the FCA, the PRA, the Bank of England and the Payment Systems Regulator must follow when they make rules. Those processes rightly include requirements to conduct cost-benefit analysis, to carry out a public consultation and, in some cases, to consult other regulators. Such provisions are crucial to the functioning of our regulatory system and ensure that the impact of new rules on individuals and businesses is appropriately assessed and considered.
However, there are likely to be occasions when existing rules under retained EU law do not need to be materially altered and so, when the regulators bring forward new rules, they may remain broadly similar to the retained EU law that they replace. In those cases, the rules would not require any real changes for firms, compared with the existing retained EU law. The clause therefore enables the Treasury to exempt the regulators from cost-benefit analysis and consultation in those circumstances where they make rules that are “materially similar” to those currently in retained EU law. That will ensure proportionality and will therefore enable the regulators to focus their resources on those areas where reform will unlock the benefits that arise from tailoring regulation to UK markets.
I should reassure the Committee that the clause is framed as a power rather than a blanket exemption. Even when a regulator is proposing to make rules that are “materially similar” to existing requirements, a full consultation and a cost-benefit analysis may be appropriate.
Clause 7 is a technical provision that defines several terms used in clauses 1 to 6 and schedule 1. It governs how those other provisions should be interpreted. I will briefly set out the major elements of interpretation. First, the clause defines the word “regulator” as referring to the Prudential Regulation Authority, the Financial Conduct Authority, the Bank of England and the Payment Systems Regulator. Secondly, it excludes regulator rules from the definition of EU-derived legislation, meaning that where regulator rules implemented EU directives, they will not be revoked by the Bill. That is a necessary exclusion because many parts of the regulatory rulebook would otherwise meet the definition of retained EU law, but it would not be appropriate to repeal them as they are for the regulators to determine. The regulators already have the necessary powers to delete or modify them as appropriate. I therefore commend the clauses to the Committee.
Could the Minister spend a bit of time explaining what “materially similar” means?
I asked the Minister earlier about Northern Ireland, and SNP and Labour Members would be interested to hear what he means by “proportionality” when it comes to services, EU-derived legislation and what differences there will be between the UK and Northern Ireland. He never mentions Northern Ireland—he keeps talking about the United Kingdom.
To the question asked by the hon. Lady, my understanding is that the terms will have the common law usage. It would be inappropriate for me to try to insert my own definition.
Members will have noted that we now come to clause 2, which the Government requested we debate in this order.