Chris Leslie MP 2nd March 2012 Blog Co-operative development Share Tweet It won’t be something that you’ll have spotted in the newspapers recently, but the Financial Services Bill – including the Government’s plans to scrap the FSA and create two new regulators under the direction of the Bank of England – is currently going through its Commons committee stage. I am leading for the Shadow Treasury team and Labour Party on the Bill, scrutinising the legislation ‘line by line, clause by clause’. This has proved an invaluable opportunity to raise concerns and seek to amend the coalition Government’s poorly thought-through plans. They have failed to give the Bank of England’s new Financial Policy Committee a duty to have regard to the jobs and growth in the economy. There is a major accountability deficit in the new powers they are handing to the Bank. And the new regulatory structures don’t fit well with the European supervisory architecture, potentially creating chaos and confusion. As a Co-operative Party Member of Parliament I was pleased at the 2nd reading debate to see many of my colleagues representing the Co-operative Party raising issues in this Bill which are driven by the co-operative and mutual values. We asked the government to improve the Bill in areas such as the promotion of the need for further provision for financial education, access to financial services and fiduciary responsibilities for regulated firms. We are pushing the Government to look further at these issues through amendments in committee, although the Minister is resisting even the most modest of improvements to his cherished draft Bill. There are many other areas where I am concerned this Government is missing important elements of the reform agenda. The Third Sector magazine reported the views of over 20 third sector and civil society leaders who joined my calls for the needs of social investment and social finance for the non-profit sector not to be lost in the priorities of the new Financial Conduct Authority. While we agree with the need to improve the systemic oversight and sustainability of financial services, the success of a new ‘prudential regulation’ process will rest on the information and analytical capabilities available to those charged with forecasting potential crises before they hit. So I am proposing other amendments which would radically enhance transparency and disclosure within the financial system. The new PRA regulator must have the power to demand transaction-level transparency from the companies it regulates. America’s Dodd Frank Act already gives regulators this power, through their Office of Financial Research. With this amendment, our regulatory framework would be better able to grasp the increasingly complex nature of the 21st century financial market. To regulate the banks without relevant information is to regulate in ignorance. I hope over the next couple of weeks the Government sees the need for the issues we have raised and the values which underpin them.