Ann McKechin: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills with reference to the Building the Business Bank: Strategy Update, published by his Department in March 2013, if he will publish details of the initial transactions of the British Business Bank's £300 million investment programme.
Ann McKechin: The Financial Times this morning quotes a Treasury spokesman as saying that an interest rate rise is “not something we are worried about” and a “sign of success”. Does the Secretary of State concur with that view?
Ann McKechin: This weekend, Nigel Wilson, the chief executive of Legal & General, one of our biggest financial companies, urged the Government to abandon their Help to Buy scheme in London to prevent house prices from spiralling out of control. Does the Prime Minister agree with Mr Wilson that we should instead use the money to build new homes across the United Kingdom?
Ann McKechin: I have listened carefully to what the Minister has said about money advice. The Money Advice Service primarily uses a website to provide access to money advice. In Glasgow, less than 30% of those on the lowest incomes have broadband access in their house, so the people who need advice the most are the least able to access it. It is not just about giving money advice; it is about how that is...
Ann McKechin: Does my hon. Friend agree that because the FCA is such a massive organisation—in terms of its scale and what it is intended to cover—compared with MAS and because it is just getting off the ground, trying to set some parameters for what the FCA and other organisations need to consider is an important part of the Treasury’s function?
Ann McKechin: In the consensual and time-disciplined way in which other hon. Members have spoken this morning, I simply want to support my friend the hon. Member for Worcester (Mr Walker) in his call for the FCA to consider ring-fencing the levy. As other colleagues have mentioned, the need for increased debt advice is clear, because personal debt in this country is increasing and bringing with it...
Ann McKechin: There is one advantage of the pawnbroker: at least, the debt could only go so far—the amount of credit that someone put up. The problem with payday lending is that interest rates keep increasing and people are caught in a vicious cycle of debt, which is why it is becoming even more difficult for ordinary people to cope with it.
Ann McKechin: The fact that this is the second time in two years that the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee has reported on this issue reflects the enormous public interest in the matter and the concern about the impact of the sector on our communities as well as on individual borrowers. To date, the regulatory authorities have being running behind the curve, and it is important that the Financial...
Ann McKechin: I absolutely concur with what the hon. Lady, a Committee colleague, says. The advertising is very clear and insidious, and it is targeted at younger people and children in particular. There is no debate about that; it has happened and continues to occur. I want to deal now with the real-time recording of credit information. If credit information is to work, it needs to be both accurate and...
Ann McKechin: My hon. Friend has taken the next sentence from my speech, because that is what the FCA absolutely needs to do and it is what we have recommended. Unless we have a recording system that is properly comprehensive, we will not have a solution and we will not stop lenders making non-compliant loans. The current proposal contains no requirement to report to the FCA; it still relies on voluntary...
Ann McKechin: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (1) what recent discussions, either oral or in writing, he has had with the Scottish Government regarding future sales of the student loan book; (2) with reference to the Autumn Statement 2013, Cm 8747, paragraph 2.16, what response he has received from the Scottish Government to the Government's proposal for future sales of...
Ann McKechin: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what steps he is taking to improve competition in the wholesale energy market.
Ann McKechin: What steps she is taking to address the rising cost of living in Northern Ireland.
Ann McKechin: The Secretary of State may be aware that last year the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action confirmed that Belfast, with an expected loss of £840 per adult of working age, will be hit harder than any other major city in Britain. Will she advise the House on what specific steps she is taking to address the cost of living, given the depth and scale of the problem in Northern Ireland?
Ann McKechin: What steps he is taking to increase the ability of employment and support allowance claimants in the work-related activity group to gain paid employment.
Ann McKechin: The Minister will be aware that the Lichfield review analysing the system said that it was beset by delays beyond the stipulated regulatory period and that Work programme providers consistently reported that they had very little information about the people referred to the scheme. Can the Minister explain to the House what specific steps she has taken to address those concerns?
Ann McKechin: What his plans are for reform of the House of Lords.
Ann McKechin: I am obliged to the Minister for his response. According to the House of Commons Library, the additional costs of running the House of Lords have increased by £42 million since 2010. Will the Minister confirm how much his Government’s policy of stuffing the Lords until it bursts will cost the taxpayer between now and the general election?
Ann McKechin: Does my hon. Friend agree that it is a basic human right that people should have sufficient food that they do not need to go hungry, and that in this country they should not have to rely on charity?
Ann McKechin: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what representations his Department has received from the Scottish Government in the last 12 months on continuity of employment of UK Government civil servants working in Scotland in the event of Scottish independence, as outlined in Scotland's Future: Your Guide to An Independent Scotland.