Matthew Hancock: I am trying to follow the hon. Member's argument, but does not the concept of a judicial implementation of asset-freezing contradict the fact that this is a global system? Whether it is done through the EU or the UN, the designation is done at that global level and then executed in the UK. The decision is not made in the UK, so while the right of appeal is important, it is crucial that the...
Matthew Hancock: I understand the figure of just under £290,000 to be the amount that is currently frozen, rather than the amount that has been frozen over time. Past figures have been much higher.
Matthew Hancock: Would it not be a grave error if we took from this episode the lesson that we should weaken our resolve to deal with our debts and keep our house in order?
Matthew Hancock: In the past, regional development funds have ignored areas of deprivation in some parts of the country-for instance, those in West Suffolk-because they are surrounded by areas of comparative wealth. Will the Minister confirm that any area of the country can apply for funding under the new regional growth fund, no matter how small the area of comparative deprivation might be?
Matthew Hancock: Students who complete degrees are rightly lauded as graduates at elaborate ceremonies that are all too often unlike those for people who learn valuable crafts. Does the Minister for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning agree that we must do more to recognise the value and status of those who complete apprenticeships?
Matthew Hancock: Is not the lesson from what is happening in Ireland clear: that countries need to get their own houses in order? Would it not be utter folly for us to take as the lesson that we should divert from the path of getting our house in order here in the UK?
Matthew Hancock: I commend my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Claire Perry) on initiating such an important debate so early in the evening. I am glad that the Minister has enunciated the principle that ISPs are not merely a pipe through which information flows, but he has not taken the opportunity to point out that they could do more. Will he take that opportunity now?
Matthew Hancock: Will the Chancellor give us his assessment of what would happen if we ignored the advice of the IMF, the OECD and the EU, and moved from the path of putting our own house in order?
Matthew Hancock: Does my hon. Friend think that it is inconsistent to argue both that the banks should lend more to small businesses and that the improvement in capital ratios should be speeded up, as we have heard from some hon. Members?
Matthew Hancock: I want to speak briefly at the end of what has been a very interesting and informative debate, which I commend the Backbench Business Committee on securing. I welcome some of the measures that the Government have already taken, so in the light of this debate, I hope that the motion, which states that the Government have taken no action, will not be pressed to a vote. Many Members have...
Matthew Hancock: I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that intervention, because it brings me precisely to the final thing that the Government have already proposed, and which I think is central to preventing a recurrence of the financial crash: the decision to move the powers for prudential regulation to the Bank of England and to strengthen those powers. Having quickly welcomed the action already taken, I...
Matthew Hancock: They were not used, and that is the problem. A massive, heavy and expanding rulebook distracted the attention of regulators away from the big picture. My third point about why discretion rather than rules is the best way for the future concerns the importance of the macro-economy, because we cannot separate monetary policy from banking policy. The size of banks' balance sheets is crucial to...
Matthew Hancock: That is a valid and important point. Central to that point is the judgment of people who look forward and have a broad view, looking after the health not only of the banking system, but of the macro-economy, while also having the ability to change the way they regulate according to changes in the economy, so as to take into account new developments, which is critical. Far from being the...
Matthew Hancock: In my experience it is always better to be anything than a clunking fist. I will end by saying this. We do not know what the future holds. We know that regulation is not perfect. It is therefore far better to have one person and an institution in charge of the regulatory structure who can exercise judgment to the best of their ability than it is to try to write a rulebook for a perfect system...
Matthew Hancock: rose -
Matthew Hancock: The hon. Gentleman is making an argument for rejecting the Walker review. I was not in the House during the last Parliament. Could he just tell us who commissioned the Walker review?
Matthew Hancock: In gathering evidence on the issue, will my hon. Friend ensure that the evidence of those who play and watch sport is taken into account? Sport continuing later can help to deal with antisocial behaviour, so today, with our cricketers in Australia, will she ensure that the evidence recognises how frustrating it is to millions of cricket fans throughout the country when bad light stops play?
Matthew Hancock: Given that the hon. Gentleman has made a strong argument for the need to ask more questions and receive more answers, for example, on the construction industry, why will he not vote in favour of the Bill?
Matthew Hancock: May we have a debate on the future of the horse racing levy, which, as my right hon. Friend well knows, is the mechanism by which a contribution is made to the racing industry by the gambling industry and those who place bets? The levy is in desperate need of modernisation, and I think that many hon. Members would have an interest in such a debate.
Matthew Hancock: The right hon. Gentleman will not accept comparisons between the existing scheme and the Government's proposals, but will he accept the analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies showing that the proposed system is more progressive than both the current scheme and the measures put forward in the Browne review?