Consumer Access: Financial Services — [Mr Charles Walker in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:42 pm on 6th June 2019.

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Photo of Nicky Morgan Nicky Morgan Chair, Treasury Committee 2:42 pm, 6th June 2019

I thank all the Members who attended the debate, including those who only intervened, and I thank the Minister for his thoughtful response. When a Treasury Committee report is described by the relevant Department as “interesting”, I hope that means that we have struck a chord somewhere along the way.

Members generously shared examples of financial exclusion and the importance of financial inclusion. I say to the Minister that, at a time when the House sometimes appears to struggle to find enough business to fill its day, this may well be an area in which there can be good cross-party agreement and working. If there is a need for changes to regulations or legislation, or for the House to show regulators and others that this issue is of great concern to us, this may be a good time to take advantage of that.

I will not go through everything the Minister said. He is absolutely right that the Financial Conduct Authority is very important in this area. We recognise that. On access to cash, the other issue is the cash infrastructure—the way that cash moves around the country. Sweden in particular has found that once that infrastructure has gone, it is difficult and expensive to bring it back. The Minister also talked about ATMs and post offices. He is right that FinTech offers opportunities for innovation in things such as budgeting. That is fantastic, but we want those things to be used by our large banks, many of which have millions of customer accounts, not just our small, innovative challenger banks and FinTech companies.

We wait to hear the Government’s response about the duty of care and the enforcement of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s powers in relation to the Equality Act, and I am sure we all look forward to seeing the breathing space regulations. Anneliese Dodds mentioned the wording of consumer credit letters where debts are being chased. That has already been raised in this Chamber, and it is another area where I think there is general agreement.

Of course, Ministers can always speak directly to financial services providers. Yes, there is the raised eyebrow of the Governor of the Bank of England, but there is nothing like the raised eyebrow of Ministers. I am delighted to hear that the Minister visited a bank in his constituency to hear about the training it offers to protect customers with dementia.