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Which? organised an evening session that allowed us to visit different tables where individuals talked about their experiences. I had an interesting experience when I asked a table of people of a variety of ages, although mostly younger than me—not that that is difficult—about the ability to switch bank accounts. They were not really that keen and said, “It’s too much hassle. Why bother? It won’t be any different.” I said, “Suppose you could do it in the same way that you change your mobile phone, where you take your SIM card-equivalent and plug it into another machine.” At that point they all said, “Oh, that would be wonderful. What a good idea. Is it possible?” I said, “Not yet, but it is very likely to happen.” They said, “Actually, even that won’t work because it will just be the same old names that I will be going to.” I said, “How would you feel if the chap who has that nice transatlantic airline had a bank?” They said, “Oh yes, that would be jolly good.” That bunch of average customers had no idea that it might be possible to move accounts and no idea of the array of accounts that might be available as a result.

That experience drove home to me that the relationship between banks and their customers has been the reverse of what it should be. We go cap in hand and say, “Will you please take my account?” It ought to be the other way around. The banks should be coming cap in hand to us saying, “Please can I have your business?” New clause 14 goes to the heart of that dilemma. All right hon. and hon. Members who have spoken have made the point that the new clause is not a silver bullet and that many other measures are required, but it would be one of the key enablers of that change in the relationship, along with the payments regulator and other things that might be done. Ultimately, we need banks to be genuinely fearful of losing business—at the moment they are not, because they know that people cannot go anywhere else —and genuinely to want to win business. The commission has made progress on that and new clause 14 is very much a part of that.

I am sorry that my hon. Friend the Member for South Northamptonshire told us early on that she will not press her new clause to a vote. I always find that Ministers go a bit further if one waits until they have said nice things before telling them that. Clearly, she has had a tremendous impact on the Minister ahead of the debate. I look forward to hearing what he has to say.

Andrea Leadsom: I do have great expectations of the Minister’s response.

John Thurso: I was going to say something about “A Tale of Two Cities”, but I will leave it at my hon. Friend’s great expectations.

Mr Ruffley: How about “Hard Times”?

John Thurso: Yes, something like that.

I am very tempted by new clauses 8 and 10, which were tabled by the Opposition. I will not vote against them, but I will not vote for them at this stage. There is an immense amount in them, but I will wait to hear what the Minister says. There is also a great deal of debate to come in the other place. I do not want to say that I am against the new clauses, but I am not sure that

9 July 2013 : Column 237

the wording is exactly what I would like to have seen. I ask for the forgiveness of the hon. Member for Nottingham East (Chris Leslie) on that.

On new clause 10, there was a lot of debate in the commission about the good bank/bad bank split. We ended up with a central point that we all agreed to, but a number of us wanted to go more in one direction. However, whether a good bank/bad bank split is a good idea is a completely different issue from what should be done afterwards. If one takes the view that a good bank/bad bank split is not needed, one can still consider all the points that have been put forward, including the many things the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) said could be done to enhance regional banking and credit unions. All those things are equally possible whether or not one decides that the bad bank is necessary.

To my mind the good bank/bad bank argument is separate to what one does with a bank going forward. I happen to be somebody who believes that a good bank/bad bank split is right for the simple reason that if we take the flakier assets out of the bank and put them in a run-off bank, therefore liberating the capital being used in the balance sheet to support it, capital is then available in the good bank to be lent to SMEs and individuals. It is a simple mechanism for getting more capital flowing through, but I would make the point that it is not inextricably linked.

Following on from the slightly more partisan comments from the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton South East, one thing that comes out of this process, and which I have observed right the way through it, is that United Kingdom Financial Investments Ltd has not been the most successful of bodies. We have seen that there are politics in such situations, and that trying to put a mechanism in between muddies the water. That is one of the reasons why the commission’s report made its suggestions on UKFI.

Finally, the commission very much supports new clause 8. As I said in my intervention, I do not think this matter needs legislation. What I would be looking for from the Minister is a commitment that does not require me to look carefully between the lines, but is, in fact, a further commitment.

Greg Clark: This has been an interesting debate so far, and it will be a tall order to live up to the great expectations of my hon. Friends the Members for South Northamptonshire (Andrea Leadsom) and for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross (John Thurso).

This set of new clauses has the common denominator of measures that can improve competition in banking. The parliamentary commission has made it clear that competition can, and should, bring about higher standards in the banking sector. It concluded that

“effective market discipline, geared to the needs of consumers, can be a better mechanism for improving standards and preventing consumer detriment than regulation, which risks ever more detailed product prescription.”

The Government completely agree. The British banking industry, at least at the retail level, was too concentrated before the crisis. The forced mergers of the crisis have exacerbated a bad situation. It is imperative that the

9 July 2013 : Column 238

regulators do not regard themselves simply as regulating incumbents, but act to promote new entry into the industry.

The commission welcomed the prudential reforms contained in the then Financial Services Authority’s barriers to entry review and commented that

“the concerns of challenger banks in this area appear to have largely been addressed”.

We accept the need to go further. Accordingly, we will be adopting the commission’s recommendation that the Prudential Regulation Authority should be given a secondary competition objective, and we will table amendments to the Bill to that effect in the autumn.

Mr Andrew Tyrie (Chichester) (Con): Hear, hear.

Greg Clark: I am grateful for my hon. Friend’s contribution.

Government amendment 5 delivers on a commitment made in Committee to accept one of the commission’s earlier conclusions that when considering an exemption from ring-fencing the Government must have regard to any adverse effect ring-fencing provisions might have on competition in the market. The amendment ensures that ring-fencing should not be a barrier to greater competition in the market. To reassure the hon. Member for Nottingham East (Chris Leslie), it does require them to override any questions on whether the continuity objective should be breached. It is there to enable them to bear that in mind, not least for the reasons that we discussed—that competition can have systemic benefits that address some of the regulator’s objectives.

Another recommendation of the commission that we accept is the suggestion that there should be a rigorous study conducted on the benefits to consumers, and competition, of account portability. The House will know that from September the seven-day switching service operated by banks covering 99% of personal current accounts in the UK will come into operation. I do not whether hon. Members have noticed, but there is an excellent exhibition to promote the new changes to the service from September in the Upper Waiting Hall next to the Committee Corridor. It should make it easier, quicker and more secure to change bank account, helping competition, but, as my hon. Friends the Members for South Northamptonshire, for Wyre Forest (Mark Garnier) and for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross said, that might not go far enough. In particular, I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for South Northamptonshire on the consistent and forensic campaign she has waged on this issue through the Treasury Select Committee and beyond. We will therefore ask the new payments systems regulator to conduct a comprehensive review of account portability, including a cost-benefit analysis, as an immediate priority.

4 pm

The regulator will be created under the Bill, and given that it will be set up following Royal Assent, it is more likely to follow within 12 months, rather than six, as I am sure hon. Members will appreciate. The Government will return with their own amendment in the House of Lords, as part of the proposals to establish the new regulator. As it is consistent with the Government’s intention, I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for

9 July 2013 : Column 239

South Northamptonshire will not press her new clause—she has been kind enough to signal that in advance, for which I am grateful to her.

Mr Love: Given that the new payments regulator will take some time to set up, I hope that the Minister will keep a watching brief on seven-day portability, because there is still some controversy over the proportion of fees for the receiving bank as opposed to the bank losing the customer. This was brought to the commission’s attention; we commented on it, and I hope that he will keep it under review.

Greg Clark: I certainly will keep a close eye on that, as too, I am absolutely certain, will my hon. Friend the Member for South Northamptonshire. The arrangement is that the fees should be shared between the bank of departure and the bank of arrival, which I dare say reflects the different costs. However, we need to keep an eye on its effect on competition.

In response to the parliamentary commission’s report, the Office of Fair Trading has announced that it will bring forward its investigation into small and medium-sized enterprise banking as part of an ongoing programme of work to investigate concerns about competition in banking. The hon. Member for Nottingham East rightly wants this to go further. The OFT is engaged in a programme of work looking at all sections of the banking sector. As I think Members know, it has recently completed an investigation into the personal current account market, and on that narrow point has argued that there should not be an immediate referral pending some of the changes taking place or in the pipeline.

We have asked that that work considers the impact on the new challenger banks created by the divestments from Lloyds and RBS. The hon. Gentleman asked where they stand. My understanding is that in both cases the parent banks are looking to move forward with initial public offerings of the challenger banks and that they intend them to form part of the competitive environment. The OFT aims to conclude its programme of work next year. It will then decide whether a market referral to the Competition Commission is needed. I can tell my hon. Friend the Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross that such a referral would not require legislation; the OFT could make one under its existing powers.

Given that commitment, which is more or less of the same time frame as that envisaged in new clause 8, and given the significant measures being implemented to enhance competition, I hope that hon. Members will agree that the new clause, which calls for such a referral in 2014, following Royal Assent, should not be adopted. It is important that the OFT completes its review in 2014, so that it can build up a file of evidence to be submitted to the Competition Commission. That would be consistent with what both the independent commission and the parliamentary commission called for: that the OFT be in a position to make a referral in 2015. The OFT’s work is absolutely in line with that.

Mr Tyrie: Will the Minister confirm that, were there not to be a referral, the Government will ensure a full examination of the case for a market study of the retail side, as well as the SME side?

9 July 2013 : Column 240

Greg Clark: That is happening. The review that the OFT is carrying out is comprehensive—it will keep us informed in that process—and is about building up the evidence to make that judgment in accordance with exactly the time frame that my hon. Friend has set out.

New clause 15, standing in the name of the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas), would require the Government to consult formally on the creation of a network of regional banks. I strongly agree that a revival of regional banking in this country is a very good thing. Yesterday in the Chamber my hon. Friend the Member for Hexham (Guy Opperman) reported on a meeting that he organised in Gateshead. I am pleased to tell the hon. Lady that a senior director of the Sparkassen, Dr Thomas Keidel, was at that meeting. He very much commended the Sparkassen model in Germany as something that could be emulated in this country. In fact, when one of the delegates objected that it was very much part of the German system and culture, which might be difficult to transplant to this country, Dr Keidel immediately pointed out that the German system was explicitly modelled on the UK system before it was abandoned in this country. I am therefore optimistic that what is proposed should be possible.

There was certainly great enthusiasm on Tyneside—indeed, momentum was being established—for launching a regional bank for the north-east. The hon. Lady might also be aware that the Cambridge and Counties bank—a joint venture between Cambridge county council and Trinity Hall, the Cambridge college—is already active and is providing lending to local small and medium-sized enterprises. The steps that the Prudential Regulation Authority has taken to license new entrants—

Mr Love: I apologise to the right hon. Gentleman for jumping in rather late, but before he leaves the issue of regional banks I want to mention one of the most promising areas, which is community development institutions. They are working at the regional and local level; however, their sources of funding could be enhanced immeasurably if community interest tax relief was set at a proper rate. I recognise that the Treasury has carried out a consultation. I am not asking the Minister to respond now, but perhaps he will at some stage inform Members of where the Treasury has got with that consultation and whether it will review the incidence of community interest tax relief.

Greg Clark: I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman will be reassured or alarmed to learn that I had not left the subject of regional banking just yet. Indeed, I want to come to the precise subject he has just raised.

The Prudential Regulation Authority’s changed procedures were referred to—by, I think, my hon. Friend the Member for Wyre Forest. It is now possible to license new entrants, who could require up to 80% less capital up front than previously. That means that the time is now ripe for new banks in the regions to be established. The hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion, in her new clause 15, and the hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr Love) refer to CDFIs—community development finance institutions. Some £60 million of wholesale funding for CDFIs is available through the regional growth fund. Tax relief up to 25% is already available on investments made by individuals and companies into CDFIs. Of course I will talk to my hon. Friend the

9 July 2013 : Column 241

Exchequer Secretary and carry forward the hon. Gentleman’s representation for further changes, but a significant set of advantages is available. Similarly, the more flexible rules for credit unions that have been introduced and the £38 million of funding for this movement have also created greater opportunities.

Caroline Lucas: Does the Minister accept that constraints on the amounts that larger credit unions—such as the East Sussex Credit Union, which I know well—are allowed to accept in deposits or are allowed to lend are stopping them fulfilling their potential? Will he look at that again?

Greg Clark: I am happy to take that forward. The hon. Lady will be aware that we have liberalised the rules for credit unions, but if problems are being caused, not least in East Sussex, I would be happy if she dropped me a line or came to see me.

We have great enthusiasm for the proposals that the hon. Lady makes, but what is required is not a study, but action. I make this commitment to her, and to any hon. Member who is interested in helping to establish a new regional bank in their area, that I will help them to do so. I hope that they will allow me to do that.

New clause 10 would require the Government to lay a report before Parliament before selling any banking assets. All hon. Members are aware of what the Chancellor said in his Mansion House speech about the next steps for Lloyds and RBS. For Lloyds, the Government are actively considering the options for how its shareholding can be returned to the private sector. Value for money for the taxpayer will be the overriding consideration, and there is no pre-determined time scale. Indeed, the disposal process may involve multiple stages over time, rather than a single moment.

For RBS, share sales are some way off. In line with the recommendation of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, the Chancellor has announced a review, to conclude in the autumn, into whether a bad bank should be set up for risky assets from RBS. Following the criteria suggested in the commission’s report, the review will assess whether creating a bad bank would accelerate the path back to private ownership, deliver benefits for the wider economy and be in the interest of taxpayers.

As I have mentioned, the OFT is looking specifically at the impact that new challenger banks created by the Lloyds and RBS divestments will have on competition in small business banking. UK Financial Investments has a remit to provide value for money in executing its requirement to devise the means of selling the Government’s shareholdings in the banks, and, in doing so, to pay due regard to maintaining financial stability and to act in a way that promotes competition. In doing so, UKFI and the Treasury must follow the value-for-money principles set out in the Green Book, and they will be accountable, through the Accounting Officer, to the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee, as well as to the House and the Treasury Select Committee.

Chris Leslie: The Minister is talking about the edifice of propriety, in relation to UKFI and so forth, but it is as plain as day that the Chancellor made the decision

9 July 2013 : Column 242

that he did not want that particular chief executive of RBS, so out went Stephen Hester. Will the Minister at least put on record what the plan is for settling the future leadership of RBS? When will the new chief executive be appointed?

Greg Clark: The hon. Gentleman knows full well that that is a matter for the board of RBS, not for the Government.

Returning to new clause 10, it is not clear that a new mandatory reporting requirement would add anything to the arrangements that are already in place. In the previous regulatory regime, promoting competition did not play a prominent enough role in ensuring that the banking industry operated in the interests of consumers. The strengthening of the role of competition through the reforms in the Bill will go a long way towards correcting that. The further recommendations of the PCBS underline the role of competition more prominently still, and I thank the commission for its contribution in that regard.

I should also mention new clause 1, which introduces a new schedule of amendments to correct a series of minor and technical points in connection with the Financial Services Act 2012. I was asked some questions about this earlier. It refers to the complaints scheme covering the Financial Conduct Authority, the Prudential Regulation Authority and the Bank of England. The scope of the complaints scheme in relation to the PRA and the FCA was widened to cover all their functions under any legislation, and the current scope includes functions such as those relating to the Data Protection Act and the Freedom of Information Act, which already have their own complaints mechanisms. The new clause will correct that.

I hope that the House will accept that the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards and the Government are as one in their intention of promoting competition. We totally agree that placing a high value on competition in pursuing all our objectives for the banking sector in order to make it more competitive, more responsive to the needs of consumers and more resilient is very much in the interests of the country.

Chris Leslie: We have had a long, well-informed debate, and I pay tribute to Members on both sides of the House, particularly the members of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, for their contributions. I am disappointed, however, that the Government are still saying simply that they will think about these things and look into them. The Bill will leave this House in the same thin state in which it arrived. In protecting taxpayers’ best interests, it should not be viewed as asking for the moon on a stick to request a proper report and an options appraisal of what to do with state-owned assets. It is very important that, at the very least, we have a thorough appraisal.

4.15 pm

The Minister made all sorts of warm noises towards regional and local banking, but as the saying goes, warm words butter no parsnips. The Government have, in fact, ruled out any options appraisal for regional banking in the particular instance of RBS, so I think the proof of the pudding, to mix my metaphors, will be in the eating.

9 July 2013 : Column 243

The Government are not doing what is necessary to get the proper competition we need to help the challenger banks and to break open the number of players in the market. The Minister said, “Well, the OFT is doing various amounts of work, and we should wait to see how it can cope with all the other changes in the banking sector”. It is always a case of this Minister kicking the can further down the road yet again. It is never “now”; always “let us wait and see”. It is just not good enough. We need a more competitive banking system, so I shall press new clause 8 to the vote.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.

The House divided:

Ayes 230, Noes 292.

Division No. 50]

[

4.16 pm

AYES

Abbott, Ms Diane

Abrahams, Debbie

Ainsworth, rh Mr Bob

Alexander, rh Mr Douglas

Alexander, Heidi

Ali, Rushanara

Allen, Mr Graham

Anderson, Mr David

Ashworth, Jonathan

Austin, Ian

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Bain, Mr William

Balls, rh Ed

Banks, Gordon

Barron, rh Mr Kevin

Beckett, rh Margaret

Begg, Dame Anne

Berger, Luciana

Betts, Mr Clive

Blackman-Woods, Roberta

Blears, rh Hazel

Blenkinsop, Tom

Blomfield, Paul

Blunkett, rh Mr David

Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben

Brennan, Kevin

Brown, rh Mr Gordon

Brown, Lyn

Brown, rh Mr Nicholas

Brown, Mr Russell

Buck, Ms Karen

Burden, Richard

Burnham, rh Andy

Byrne, rh Mr Liam

Campbell, Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Gregory

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Caton, Martin

Champion, Sarah

Chapman, Jenny

Clark, Katy

Clarke, rh Mr Tom

Clwyd, rh Ann

Coaker, Vernon

Coffey, Ann

Connarty, Michael

Cooper, Rosie

Cooper, rh Yvette

Corbyn, Jeremy

Crausby, Mr David

Creagh, Mary

Creasy, Stella

Cruddas, Jon

Cryer, John

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Cunningham, Sir Tony

Curran, Margaret

Dakin, Nic

Danczuk, Simon

Darling, rh Mr Alistair

David, Wayne

Davidson, Mr Ian

Davies, Geraint

De Piero, Gloria

Denham, rh Mr John

Dobbin, Jim

Dobson, rh Frank

Docherty, Thomas

Dodds, rh Mr Nigel

Donohoe, Mr Brian H.

Doran, Mr Frank

Doughty, Stephen

Doyle, Gemma

Dromey, Jack

Dugher, Michael

Durkan, Mark

Eagle, Ms Angela

Eagle, Maria

Edwards, Jonathan

Ellman, Mrs Louise

Engel, Natascha

Esterson, Bill

Evans, Chris

Farrelly, Paul

Field, rh Mr Frank

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flello, Robert

Flint, rh Caroline

Fovargue, Yvonne

Gapes, Mike

Gardiner, Barry

Gilmore, Sheila

Glass, Pat

Glindon, Mrs Mary

Godsiff, Mr Roger

Goggins, rh Paul

Goodman, Helen

Greatrex, Tom

Green, Kate

Greenwood, Lilian

Griffith, Nia

Gwynne, Andrew

Hain, rh Mr Peter

Hamilton, Fabian

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harman, rh Ms Harriet

Harris, Mr Tom

Healey, rh John

Hepburn, Mr Stephen

Hermon, Lady

Hilling, Julie

Hodge, rh Margaret

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hoey, Kate

Hopkins, Kelvin

Hosie, Stewart

Howarth, rh Mr George

Hunt, Tristram

Irranca-Davies, Huw

Jackson, Glenda

Jamieson, Cathy

Jarvis, Dan

Johnson, rh Alan

Johnson, Diana

Jones, Mr Kevan

Jones, Susan Elan

Jowell, rh Dame Tessa

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Keeley, Barbara

Khan, rh Sadiq

Lammy, rh Mr David

Lavery, Ian

Leslie, Chris

Lewell-Buck, Mrs Emma

Lewis, Mr Ivan

Long, Naomi

Love, Mr Andrew

Lucas, Caroline

Lucas, Ian

Mactaggart, Fiona

Mahmood, Mr Khalid

Mahmood, Shabana

Mann, John

Marsden, Mr Gordon

McCabe, Steve

McCann, Mr Michael

McCarthy, Kerry

McClymont, Gregg

McCrea, Dr William

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGovern, Alison

McGovern, Jim

McGuire, rh Mrs Anne

McKechin, Ann

McKenzie, Mr Iain

McKinnell, Catherine

Meacher, rh Mr Michael

Mearns, Ian

Miller, Andrew

Morden, Jessica

Morrice, Graeme

(Livingston)

Morris, Grahame M.

(Easington)

Mudie, Mr George

Munn, Meg

Murphy, rh Mr Jim

Murphy, rh Paul

Murray, Ian

Nandy, Lisa

Nash, Pamela

O'Donnell, Fiona

Onwurah, Chi

Osborne, Sandra

Pearce, Teresa

Phillipson, Bridget

Pound, Stephen

Raynsford, rh Mr Nick

Reed, Mr Jamie

Reed, Mr Steve

Reynolds, Emma

Reynolds, Jonathan

Riordan, Mrs Linda

Ritchie, Ms Margaret

Robertson, Angus

Robertson, John

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Rotheram, Steve

Roy, Mr Frank

Roy, Lindsay

Ruddock, rh Dame Joan

Sarwar, Anas

Sawford, Andy

Seabeck, Alison

Shannon, Jim

Sharma, Mr Virendra

Sheerman, Mr Barry

Sheridan, Jim

Shuker, Gavin

Simpson, David

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Slaughter, Mr Andy

Smith, Angela

Smith, Nick

Smith, Owen

Spellar, rh Mr John

Stuart, Ms Gisela

Sutcliffe, Mr Gerry

Tami, Mark

Thomas, Mr Gareth

Thornberry, Emily

Timms, rh Stephen

Trickett, Jon

Twigg, Derek

Umunna, Mr Chuka

Vaz, rh Keith

Vaz, Valerie

Walley, Joan

Watts, Mr Dave

Weir, Mr Mike

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Williams, Hywel

Wilson, Phil

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Ms Rosie

Wishart, Pete

Wood, Mike

Woodcock, John

Woodward, rh Mr Shaun

Wright, David

Wright, Mr Iain

Tellers for the Ayes:

Graham Jones

and

Karl Turner

NOES

Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Alexander, rh Danny

Amess, Mr David

Andrew, Stuart

Arbuthnot, rh Mr James

Bacon, Mr Richard

Baker, Steve

Baldry, Sir Tony

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Barker, rh Gregory

Baron, Mr John

Barwell, Gavin

Bebb, Guto

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Benyon, Richard

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Bingham, Andrew

Blackwood, Nicola

Boles, Nick

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Mr Graham

Brake, rh Tom

Bray, Angie

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brooke, Annette

Bruce, Fiona

Bruce, rh Sir Malcolm

Buckland, Mr Robert

Burley, Mr Aidan

Burns, Conor

Burns, rh Mr Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burstow, rh Paul

Burt, Alistair

Burt, Lorely

Byles, Dan

Campbell, rh Sir Menzies

Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair

Carmichael, Neil

Carswell, Mr Douglas

Cash, Mr William

Chishti, Rehman

Chope, Mr Christopher

Clappison, Mr James

Clark, rh Greg

Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Crabb, Stephen

Crockart, Mike

Crouch, Tracey

Davey, rh Mr Edward

Davies, David T. C.

(Monmouth)

Davies, Glyn

Davies, Philip

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Dorrell, rh Mr Stephen

Dorries, Nadine

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drax, Richard

Duncan, rh Mr Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Graham

Evans, Jonathan

Evennett, Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Farron, Tim

Field, Mark

Foster, rh Mr Don

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fullbrook, Lorraine

Fuller, Richard

Gale, Sir Roger

Garnier, Sir Edward

Gauke, Mr David

George, Andrew

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gilbert, Stephen

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Glen, John

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Graham, Richard

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, rh Damian

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Halfon, Robert

Hames, Duncan

Hammond, rh Mr Philip

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, Matthew

Harper, Mr Mark

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Harvey, Sir Nick

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Heald, Oliver

Heath, Mr David

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Hemming, John

Henderson, Gordon

Herbert, rh Nick

Hinds, Damian

Hollingbery, George

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Holloway, Mr Adam

Hopkins, Kris

Horwood, Martin

Howarth, Sir Gerald

Howell, John

Hughes, rh Simon

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Hunter, Mark

Huppert, Dr Julian

Hurd, Mr Nick

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, rh Mr David

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kelly, Chris

Kennedy, rh Mr Charles

Kirby, Simon

Knight, rh Mr Greg

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Laing, Mrs Eleanor

Lamb, Norman

Lancaster, Mark

Lansley, rh Mr Andrew

Latham, Pauline

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Dr Phillip

Leech, Mr John

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leslie, Charlotte

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Lewis, Dr Julian

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lloyd, Stephen

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Luff, Peter

Lumley, Karen

Macleod, Mary

Main, Mrs Anne

Maude, rh Mr Francis

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Karl

McIntosh, Miss Anne

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

McVey, Esther

Menzies, Mark

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, rh Maria

Mills, Nigel

Milton, Anne

Mordaunt, Penny

Morgan, Nicky

Morris, James

Mosley, Stephen

Mowat, David

Mulholland, Greg

Munt, Tessa

Murray, Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Neill, Robert

Newmark, Mr Brooks

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

Offord, Dr Matthew

Ollerenshaw, Eric

Opperman, Guy

Ottaway, Richard

Paice, rh Sir James

Parish, Neil

Patel, Priti

Pawsey, Mark

Penning, Mike

Penrose, John

Percy, Andrew

Phillips, Stephen

Pickles, rh Mr Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Pritchard, Mark

Pugh, John

Raab, Mr Dominic

Reckless, Mark

Redwood, rh Mr John

Rees-Mogg, Jacob

Reid, Mr Alan

Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm

Robertson, rh Hugh

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Rogerson, Dan

Rosindell, Andrew

Rudd, Amber

Ruffley, Mr David

Russell, Sir Bob

Rutley, David

Sanders, Mr Adrian

Sandys, Laura

Scott, Mr Lee

Selous, Andrew

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Simmonds, Mark

Simpson, Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Miss Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Sir Robert

Soames, rh Nicholas

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Spencer, Mr Mark

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Mr Graham

Stunell, rh Sir Andrew

Sturdy, Julian

Swales, Ian

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swinson, Jo

Swire, rh Mr Hugo

Syms, Mr Robert

Teather, Sarah

Thornton, Mike

Timpson, Mr Edward

Tomlinson, Justin

Tredinnick, David

Truss, Elizabeth

Uppal, Paul

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Walter, Mr Robert

Watkinson, Dame Angela

Weatherley, Mike

Webb, Steve

Wharton, James

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Willetts, rh Mr David

Williams, Mr Mark

Williams, Roger

Williams, Stephen

Williamson, Gavin

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Wright, Jeremy

Wright, Simon

Yeo, Mr Tim

Young, rh Sir George

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Noes:

Greg Hands

and

Jenny Willott

Question accordingly negatived.

9 July 2013 : Column 244

9 July 2013 : Column 245

9 July 2013 : Column 246

9 July 2013 : Column 247

4.29 pm

More than two hours having elapsed since the commencement of proceedings on consideration, the proceedings were interrupted (Programme Order, 8 July).

The Deputy Speaker put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that time (Standing Order No. 83E).

New Clause 10

Sale of state-owned banking assets

‘(1) Before the sale of banking assets in the ownership of HM Treasury, the Treasury shall lay before Parliament a report setting out—

(a) the manner in which the best interests of the taxpayer are to be protected in connection with such sale,

(b) the expected impact that any sale might have on competition for the provision of core services, customer choice and the rate of economic growth,

(c) an appraisal of the options for potential structural changes in the bank concerned including—

(i) the separation of the provision of core services from the provision of investment activities,

(ii) the retention of a class of assets in the ownership of HM Treasury,

(iii) the impact of any sale on the creation of a regional banking network.

(2) A copy of the report in subsection (1) shall be laid before Parliament and sufficient time shall be given for the appropriate committees of both Houses of Parliament to consider its findings before any sale decision.’.—(Chris Leslie.)

Brought up, and read the First time.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.

The House divided:

Ayes 228, Noes 292.

Division No. 51]

[

4.29 pm

AYES

Abbott, Ms Diane

Abrahams, Debbie

Ainsworth, rh Mr Bob

Alexander, rh Mr Douglas

Alexander, Heidi

Ali, Rushanara

Allen, Mr Graham

Anderson, Mr David

Ashworth, Jonathan

Austin, Ian

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Bain, Mr William

Balls, rh Ed

Banks, Gordon

Barron, rh Mr Kevin

Beckett, rh Margaret

Begg, Dame Anne

Berger, Luciana

Betts, Mr Clive

Blackman-Woods, Roberta

Blears, rh Hazel

Blenkinsop, Tom

Blomfield, Paul

Blunkett, rh Mr David

Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben

Brennan, Kevin

Brown, rh Mr Gordon

Brown, Lyn

Brown, rh Mr Nicholas

Brown, Mr Russell

Buck, Ms Karen

Burden, Richard

Burnham, rh Andy

Byrne, rh Mr Liam

Campbell, Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Gregory

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Caton, Martin

Champion, Sarah

Chapman, Jenny

Clark, Katy

Clarke, rh Mr Tom

Clwyd, rh Ann

Coaker, Vernon

Coffey, Ann

Connarty, Michael

Cooper, Rosie

Cooper, rh Yvette

Corbyn, Jeremy

Crausby, Mr David

Creagh, Mary

Creasy, Stella

Cruddas, Jon

Cryer, John

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Cunningham, Sir Tony

Curran, Margaret

Dakin, Nic

Danczuk, Simon

Darling, rh Mr Alistair

David, Wayne

Davidson, Mr Ian

Davies, Geraint

De Piero, Gloria

Denham, rh Mr John

Dobbin, Jim

Dobson, rh Frank

Docherty, Thomas

Dodds, rh Mr Nigel

Donaldson, rh Mr Jeffrey M.

Donohoe, Mr Brian H.

Doran, Mr Frank

Doughty, Stephen

Doyle, Gemma

Dromey, Jack

Dugher, Michael

Durkan, Mark

Eagle, Ms Angela

Eagle, Maria

Edwards, Jonathan

Ellman, Mrs Louise

Esterson, Bill

Evans, Chris

Farrelly, Paul

Field, rh Mr Frank

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flello, Robert

Flint, rh Caroline

Fovargue, Yvonne

Gapes, Mike

Gardiner, Barry

Gilmore, Sheila

Glass, Pat

Glindon, Mrs Mary

Godsiff, Mr Roger

Goggins, rh Paul

Goodman, Helen

Greatrex, Tom

Green, Kate

Greenwood, Lilian

Griffith, Nia

Gwynne, Andrew

Hain, rh Mr Peter

Hamilton, Fabian

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harman, rh Ms Harriet

Harris, Mr Tom

Healey, rh John

Hepburn, Mr Stephen

Hermon, Lady

Hilling, Julie

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hoey, Kate

Hopkins, Kelvin

Hosie, Stewart

Howarth, rh Mr George

Hunt, Tristram

Irranca-Davies, Huw

Jackson, Glenda

Jamieson, Cathy

Jarvis, Dan

Johnson, rh Alan

Johnson, Diana

Jones, Mr Kevan

Jones, Susan Elan

Jowell, rh Dame Tessa

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Keeley, Barbara

Khan, rh Sadiq

Lammy, rh Mr David

Lavery, Ian

Leslie, Chris

Lewell-Buck, Mrs Emma

Lewis, Mr Ivan

Long, Naomi

Love, Mr Andrew

Lucas, Caroline

Lucas, Ian

Mactaggart, Fiona

Mahmood, Mr Khalid

Mahmood, Shabana

Mann, John

Marsden, Mr Gordon

McCabe, Steve

McCann, Mr Michael

McCarthy, Kerry

McClymont, Gregg

McCrea, Dr William

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGovern, Alison

McGovern, Jim

McGuire, rh Mrs Anne

McKechin, Ann

McKenzie, Mr Iain

McKinnell, Catherine

Meacher, rh Mr Michael

Mearns, Ian

Miller, Andrew

Morden, Jessica

Morrice, Graeme

(Livingston)

Morris, Grahame M.

(Easington)

Mudie, Mr George

Munn, Meg

Murphy, rh Mr Jim

Murphy, rh Paul

Murray, Ian

Nandy, Lisa

Nash, Pamela

O'Donnell, Fiona

Onwurah, Chi

Osborne, Sandra

Pearce, Teresa

Phillipson, Bridget

Pound, Stephen

Raynsford, rh Mr Nick

Reed, Mr Jamie

Reed, Mr Steve

Reynolds, Emma

Reynolds, Jonathan

Riordan, Mrs Linda

Ritchie, Ms Margaret

Robertson, Angus

Robertson, John

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Rotheram, Steve

Roy, Mr Frank

Roy, Lindsay

Ruddock, rh Dame Joan

Sarwar, Anas

Sawford, Andy

Seabeck, Alison

Shannon, Jim

Sharma, Mr Virendra

Sheerman, Mr Barry

Sheridan, Jim

Shuker, Gavin

Simpson, David

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Slaughter, Mr Andy

Smith, Angela

Smith, Nick

Smith, Owen

Spellar, rh Mr John

Stuart, Ms Gisela

Sutcliffe, Mr Gerry

Tami, Mark

Thomas, Mr Gareth

Thornberry, Emily

Timms, rh Stephen

Trickett, Jon

Twigg, Derek

Umunna, Mr Chuka

Vaz, Valerie

Walley, Joan

Watts, Mr Dave

Weir, Mr Mike

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Williams, Hywel

Wilson, Phil

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Ms Rosie

Wishart, Pete

Wood, Mike

Woodcock, John

Woodward, rh Mr Shaun

Wright, David

Wright, Mr Iain

Tellers for the Ayes:

Graham Jones

and

Karl Turner

NOES

Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Alexander, rh Danny

Amess, Mr David

Andrew, Stuart

Arbuthnot, rh Mr James

Bacon, Mr Richard

Baker, Norman

Baker, Steve

Baldry, Sir Tony

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Barker, rh Gregory

Baron, Mr John

Barwell, Gavin

Bebb, Guto

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Benyon, Richard

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Bingham, Andrew

Blackwood, Nicola

Boles, Nick

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Mr Graham

Brake, rh Tom

Bray, Angie

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brooke, Annette

Bruce, Fiona

Bruce, rh Sir Malcolm

Buckland, Mr Robert

Burley, Mr Aidan

Burns, Conor

Burns, rh Mr Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burstow, rh Paul

Burt, Alistair

Burt, Lorely

Byles, Dan

Campbell, rh Sir Menzies

Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair

Carmichael, Neil

Carswell, Mr Douglas

Cash, Mr William

Chishti, Rehman

Chope, Mr Christopher

Clappison, Mr James

Clark, rh Greg

Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Crabb, Stephen

Crockart, Mike

Crouch, Tracey

Davey, rh Mr Edward

Davies, David T. C.

(Monmouth)

Davies, Glyn

Davies, Philip

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Dorrell, rh Mr Stephen

Dorries, Nadine

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drax, Richard

Duncan, rh Mr Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Graham

Evans, Jonathan

Evennett, Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Farron, Tim

Field, Mark

Foster, rh Mr Don

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fullbrook, Lorraine

Fuller, Richard

Gale, Sir Roger

Garnier, Sir Edward

Gauke, Mr David

George, Andrew

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gilbert, Stephen

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Glen, John

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Graham, Richard

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, rh Damian

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Halfon, Robert

Hames, Duncan

Hammond, rh Mr Philip

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, Matthew

Hands, Greg

Harper, Mr Mark

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Harvey, Sir Nick

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Heald, Oliver

Heath, Mr David

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Hemming, John

Henderson, Gordon

Herbert, rh Nick

Hinds, Damian

Hollingbery, George

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Holloway, Mr Adam

Hopkins, Kris

Horwood, Martin

Howarth, Sir Gerald

Howell, John

Hughes, rh Simon

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Hunter, Mark

Huppert, Dr Julian

Hurd, Mr Nick

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, rh Mr David

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kelly, Chris

Kennedy, rh Mr Charles

Kirby, Simon

Knight, rh Mr Greg

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Laing, Mrs Eleanor

Lamb, Norman

Lancaster, Mark

Lansley, rh Mr Andrew

Latham, Pauline

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Dr Phillip

Leech, Mr John

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leslie, Charlotte

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Lewis, Dr Julian

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lloyd, Stephen

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Luff, Peter

Lumley, Karen

Macleod, Mary

Main, Mrs Anne

Maude, rh Mr Francis

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Karl

McIntosh, Miss Anne

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

McVey, Esther

Menzies, Mark

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, rh Maria

Mills, Nigel

Mordaunt, Penny

Morgan, Nicky

Morris, James

Mosley, Stephen

Mowat, David

Mulholland, Greg

Munt, Tessa

Murray, Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Neill, Robert

Newmark, Mr Brooks

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

Offord, Dr Matthew

Ollerenshaw, Eric

Opperman, Guy

Ottaway, Richard

Paice, rh Sir James

Parish, Neil

Patel, Priti

Pawsey, Mark

Penning, Mike

Penrose, John

Percy, Andrew

Phillips, Stephen

Pickles, rh Mr Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Pritchard, Mark

Pugh, John

Raab, Mr Dominic

Reckless, Mark

Redwood, rh Mr John

Rees-Mogg, Jacob

Reid, Mr Alan

Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm

Robertson, rh Hugh

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Rogerson, Dan

Rosindell, Andrew

Rudd, Amber

Ruffley, Mr David

Russell, Sir Bob

Rutley, David

Sanders, Mr Adrian

Sandys, Laura

Scott, Mr Lee

Selous, Andrew

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Simmonds, Mark

Simpson, Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Miss Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Sir Robert

Soames, rh Nicholas

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Spencer, Mr Mark

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Mr Graham

Stunell, rh Sir Andrew

Sturdy, Julian

Swales, Ian

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swinson, Jo

Swire, rh Mr Hugo

Syms, Mr Robert

Teather, Sarah

Thornton, Mike

Timpson, Mr Edward

Tomlinson, Justin

Tredinnick, David

Truss, Elizabeth

Uppal, Paul

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Walter, Mr Robert

Watkinson, Dame Angela

Weatherley, Mike

Webb, Steve

Wharton, James

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Willetts, rh Mr David

Williams, Mr Mark

Williams, Stephen

Williamson, Gavin

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Wright, Jeremy

Wright, Simon

Yeo, Mr Tim

Young, rh Sir George

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Noes:

Anne Milton

and

Jenny Willott

Question accordingly negatived.

9 July 2013 : Column 248

9 July 2013 : Column 249

9 July 2013 : Column 250

9 July 2013 : Column 251

New Clause 1

Minor amendments

‘Schedule [Minor amendments] (which contains amendments of, or connected with, the Financial Services Act 2012 and amendments of provisions amended by that Act) has effect.’.—(Greg Clark.)

Brought up, and added to the Bill.

Clause 4

Ring-fencing of certain activities

Amendment made: 5, page 3, line 35, at end insert—

‘(3A) Subject to that, in deciding whether and, if so, how to exercise their powers under subsection (2)(b), the Treasury must have regard to the desirability of minimising any adverse effect that the ring-fencing provisions might be expected to have on competition in the market for services provided in the course of carrying on core activities, including any adverse effect on the ease with which new entrants can enter the market.

(3B) In subsection (3A) “the ring-fencing provisions” means ring-fencing rules and the duty imposed as a result of section 142G.’.—(Greg Clark.)

New Schedule 1

‘Minor Amendments

Companies Act 1985 (c. 6)

1 In Schedule 15D to the Companies Act 1985 (disclosures), omit paragraph 29.

Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (c. 8)

2 In section 376 of FSMA 2000 (continuation of contracts of long-term insurance where insurer in liquidation), in subsection (11B), for “PRA-authorised” substitute “PRA-regulated”.3 In Schedule 17A to FSMA 2000 (further provision in relation to exercise of Part 18 functions by Bank of England), in paragraph 10(1)(j), for “subsections (1) and (3)” substitute “subsection (1)”.

Income Tax Act 2007 (c. 3)

4 In section 991 of the Income Tax Act 2007 (meaning of “bank”), in subsections (2)(b) and (3), for “Part 4” substitute “Part 4A”.

9 July 2013 : Column 252

Banking Act 2009 (c. 1)

5 In section 89B of the Banking Act 2009 (application to recognised central counterparties), in the Table in subsection (6), in the entry relating to section 81B, in the second column, after the modification of subsection (1) of that section insert—

 

“In subsection (2), for “PRA” substitute “Bank of England”.”

6 In section 191 of the Banking Act 2009 (directions), in subsection (1), after “inter-bank” insert “payment”.

Financial Services Act 2012 (c. 21)

7 In section 73 of the Financial Services Act 2012 (duty of FCA to investigate and report on possible regulatory failure), in subsection (1)(b)(i)—

(a) for “their activities,” substitute “of the carrying on of regulated activities,”, and

(b) for “or for the regulation of collective investment schemes” substitute “, for the regulation of collective investment schemes or for the regulation of recognised investment exchanges,”’.

8 (1) Section 85 of the Financial Services Act 2012 (relevant functions in relation to complaints scheme) is amended as follows.

(2) For subsection (2) substitute—

“(2) The relevant functions of the FCA or the PRA are—

(a) its functions conferred by or under FSMA 2000, other than its legislative functions, and

(b) such other functions as the Treasury may by order provide.”

(3) For subsection (3) substitute—

“(3) The relevant functions of the Bank of England are—

(a) its functions under Part 18 of FSMA 2000 (recognised clearing houses) or under Part 5 of the Banking Act 2009 (inter-bank payment systems), other than its legislative functions, and

(b) such other functions as the Treasury may by order provide.”

(4) In subsections (4) and (5), for “subsection (2)” substitute “subsection (2)(a)”.

(5) In subsections (6) and (7), for “subsection (3)” substitute “subsection (3)(a)”.

(6) After subsection (7) insert—

“(8) For the purposes of subsection (2), sections 1A(6) and 2A(6) of FSMA 2000 do not apply.”’.—(Greg Clark.)

Brought up, and added to the Bill.

Schedule

Ring-fencing transfer schemes

Amendments made: 11, page 22, line 22, leave out ‘subsidiary’ and insert ‘body’.

Amendment 12, page 22, line 28, leave out ‘subsidiary’ and insert ‘body’.

Amendment 13, page 22, line 30, leave out ‘subsidiary undertaking’ and insert ‘member of the group’.

Amendment 14, page 23, line 3, at end insert—

‘(d) making provision in connection with the implementation of proposals that would involve a body corporate whose group includes the transferee becoming a ring-fenced body while one or more other members of the transferee’s group are not ring-fenced bodies.’.

Amendment 15, page 23, line 24, at end insert—

‘(2B) In deciding whether to give consent, the PRA must have regard to the scheme report prepared under section 109A in relation to the ring-fencing transfer scheme.’.

9 July 2013 : Column 253

Amendment 16, page 23, line 24, at end insert—

‘6A For the heading to section 109 substitute “Scheme reports: insurance business transfer schemes”.6B After section 109 insert—

“109A Scheme reports: ring-fencing transfer schemes

(1) An application under section 106B in respect of a ring-fencing transfer scheme must be accompanied by a report on the terms of the scheme (a “scheme report”).

(2) A scheme report may be made only by a person—

(a) appearing to the PRA to have the skills necessary to enable the person to make a proper report, and

(b) nominated or approved for the purpose by the PRA.

(3) A scheme report must be made in a form approved by the PRA.

(4) A scheme report must state—

(a) whether persons other than the transferor concerned are likely to be adversely affected by the scheme, and

(b) if so, whether the adverse effect is likely to be greater than is reasonably necessary in order to achieve whichever of the purposes mentioned in section 106B(3) is relevant.

(5) The PRA must consult the FCA before—

(a) nominating or approving a person under subsection (2)(b), or

(b) approving a form under subsection (3).”’.—(Greg Clark.)

Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) (Con): On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. In the light of the fact that the International Monetary Fund has upgraded the United Kingdom’s projection for growth, and that the European zone’s projection has been downgraded, I wonder whether you have been given any indication whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be making a statement, as I, for one, would like to congratulate him.

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): On the last part of the hon. Gentleman’s question, I think that he has already achieved what he wants. The answer to the first part of his question is no.

Third Reading

4.42 pm

Greg Clark: I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

It is good to start the debate with good news. When one is considering a Bill, one is cut off from the outside world, so that is good to hear.

I said on Second Reading that this is a historic Bill that resets the banking system in this country, so that it can once again enjoy the reputation that it had, and its worldwide renown, not just for technical excellence but for high standards of confidence, built on probity.

The Bill is historic in another important respect. It reflects the extensive deliberations and contributions of not one but two bodies of eminent experts: the Independent Commission on Banking, chaired by Sir John Vickers, and the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, chaired by my hon. Friend the Member for Chichester (Mr Tyrie). Both undertook extensive work, and I am grateful to their members, and to the staff who supported them in their work.

Sir John Vickers’s commission was established immediately after the general election, in June 2010. It took extensive evidence before publishing an issues paper in September 2010; an interim report, on which it

9 July 2013 : Column 254

consulted in April 2011; and a final report in September 2011. The Government gave, and consulted on, an initial response in December 2011, before issuing a White Paper for consultation in June 2012. In the light of that consultation, a draft Bill was published last October, and the Parliamentary Commission was asked to give it pre-legislative scrutiny, which it did, and it concluded its report on 21 December last year.

Following Second Reading, the Committee scrutinised the Bill for more than 40 hours. The process has been characterised by an unusually determined effort to build consensus. Having considered all the options, the Vickers commission made a compelling case for a ring fence separating the riskier investment banking side of banks from personal and business lending. Ring-fencing, an ICB argument, will better insulate retail banks against global shocks and make banks easier to resolve in a crisis. It will thus create a more stable banking system, protecting the economy and the taxpayer against future crisis.

The parliamentary commission, in its first report, recommended some changes to the Bill, which we have been able to make, such as emphasising the importance of competition, as we have just debated, in applying the ring-fencing rules. The commission noted that in putting the so-called Haldane principles on the face of the Bill, the Government went further than its own recommendations. The parliamentary commission, in its December report, also called for the power to be available to force the separation of a ring-fenced bank into its component parts if that bank attempted to game the system or to undermine the ring fence. The so-called electrification of the ring fence is designed to ensure that it is respected in practice.

We debated yesterday the Government’s amendment to implement this power. There was some discussion about whether the power to require separation was too cumbersome to be used effectively in practice. As I said yesterday, there is no difference between the Government’s intentions and those of the parliamentary commission. We agree with the specific reserve power and it has to be usable. We included a time limit by which full separation had to be executed. The PCBS did not specify this, but my hon. Friend the Member for Chichester said that it should be informed by the regulator. That seems right to me and I have no difficulty in expecting to be able to arrive at a formulation that meets all the Chairman’s objectives during the further scrutiny of the Bill in this place.

Mr Tyrie: I am very reassured by what I have heard from the Minister. It seems from what he said that it remains the Government’s firm intention to implement the spirit and the letter of electrification for individual banks. It also gives me some reassurance that the commitments that appear to have been made in the paper published yesterday on the recommendations in the fifth report will also be implemented. Can the Minister give some indication when he will produce amendments, so that we have enough time to think about them before they are examined in another place and so that their lordships also have enough time to consider them carefully?

Greg Clark: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his remarks. He is right that we are of one mind on the need to implement faithfully the commitments that we have given. The amendments need to be drafted in a way that

9 July 2013 : Column 255

is legally watertight, which takes some time. They will be prepared during the summer—the summer holiday will be out of bounds for the officials on the Bill team, sad to say—and they will be introduced in the autumn in the House of Lords.

As well as pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill, the parliamentary commission’s final report made a series of recommendations concerning standards and culture in banking. As I indicated on Second Reading, in Committee and yesterday, the Government will make use of the Bill and the amendments to give expression to many of the recommendations that require legislation. I gave a commitment to work with the usual channels to ensure that this House has ample opportunity to debate the amendments when they come back for further scrutiny by this House.

Mr Tyrie: I may have misheard. Does that mean that we will get two days to consider Lords amendments?

Greg Clark: My hon. Friend is nothing if not tenacious as well as ingenious, and his hearing is acute. He will have heard me say that I will work with the usual channels, so the time for consideration will depend on the outcome of those discussions.

The implementation of the commission’s recommendations on culture and standards represents the third pillar of the reforms being made to the banking system. The first pillar was the institutional changes brought about by the Financial Services Act 2012, which received Royal Assent last December. That Act scrapped the failed tripartite system of regulation which, in the words of the parliamentary commission,

“created a largely illusory impression of regulatory control”.

In its place, that Act restored the Bank of England to its rightful place by ensuring, through the Financial Policy Committee and the Prudential Regulation Authority, the stability of the financial system. It established new forward-looking, rather than box-ticking, conduct regulation in the Financial Conduct Authority.

The second pillar of reform is embodied in the ring-fencing provisions advanced by Sir John Vickers and his committee, which are the main focus of the Bill under consideration. The reforms by the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards that deal with culture and standards represent the third pillar, and will play a major part in the passage of the Bill.

Having thanked members and staff of the Independent Commission on Banking and the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards for their hard work and the exacting standards they set for themselves, I extend my thanks to all those who have participated in the drafting and scrutiny of the Bill so far. First, I thank my Parliamentary Private Secretary, my hon. Friend the Member for Warrington South (David Mowat). Not only has he been assiduous in his more mundane duties of passing notes to and fro, but he has been an invaluable source of wise advice, drawing on a successful career in business. I discovered that he has an ability to see quickly through complexity and get to the heart of the matter—something much needed in matters of financial regulation.

I thank my officials for their efforts and the long hours spent drafting the Bill and Government amendments, as well as briefings for the many clauses we have debated. I hope that the seriousness of this legislation will assuage

9 July 2013 : Column 256

the loss of weekends and evenings spent with their nearest and dearest, although I hope they were at least able to see Andy Murray play—and indeed win—on Sunday, notwithstanding the timetabling of Report and Third Reading.

I thank those in my private office for their patience and cheerfulness in marshalling the many demands on their skills and expertise, and I am grateful to members of the Bill Committee, and its Chair and Clerks, for the hours we spent in each other’s company during spring. At one point I worked out that I had spent more time that month with the hon. Member for Nottingham East (Chris Leslie) than with my wife, although I hope he will agree that it was not an altogether unpleasant experience.

We had a lively and unusual Bill Committee in which my hon. Friend the Member for Amber Valley (Nigel Mills) went further than the electrification proposed by the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, and demanded the “electrocution” of miscreant bankers. My hon. Friend the Member for North East Somerset (Jacob Rees-Mogg), whom I am delighted to see in his place, was revealed to have a secret life on Twitter, which I hope continues to flourish. I was also able to concede an historic Opposition amendment, given the charming entreaties from the hon. Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun (Cathy Jamieson), even if it was only a single word. All that was done under the beady eye of the Treasury Whip, my hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea and Fulham (Greg Hands), who kept us rigorously to time—indeed, I think we finished a day earlier than was allowed for in the programme motion. Given that the Bill will return and we will have much to discuss, it is not so much goodbye to the Bill on Third Reading as au revoir—or, as I am sure my hon. Friend the Member for North East Somerset would put it, “Hasta la vista, baby.”

Ours is not the only country in which trust in banking collapsed during the financial crisis, but the fact that scandals and bail-outs happened elsewhere is of no comfort. In a world where trust is in retreat, this country must be a beacon of confidence, security and stability, but that will not happen unless we insist on higher standards than apply elsewhere. The overwhelming and urgent imperative is to rebuild that trust. The reforms enacted so far take us a long way, and further than our competitors. The Bill will take us further forward and make the reform necessary to restore the reputation—and with it the prosperity—of banking in the United Kingdom. I commend the Bill to the House.

4.53 pm

Chris Leslie: After that tour of various languages, all of which I am sure were in order as Norman French is the only language to be used in the Chamber other than English, I join the Minister in paying tribute to the Independent Commission on Banking. Sir John Vickers and his team did a phenomenal job, which was only a prelude to the output of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, chaired by the hon. Member for Chichester (Mr Tyrie). Given that its final report was larger than a ream of A4 paper, which represented months or work, weeks of deliberations and many hours of hearings, I think that it is to its credit, and the hon. Gentleman’s in particular, that it managed to hold together a set of recommendations, which I hope at some point will find their way into the legislation.

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After the global financial crisis, when we saw reckless banking require such a vast taxpayer bail-out, the public finances were adversely affected and the economy suffered. It is therefore essential that we do our best to ensure that that situation can never again be repeated. However, all we have in the legislation so far are the ring-fencing provisions. I hope that they will be an adequate protection, but they are only part of the change we need to see in banking.

We were forced to table a series of amendments in Committee and on Report because the Government stepped away from the radical changes needed to make banking reform a reality. We hope that the Minister’s warm words will be manifest in the Bill in the other place, where we will be watching what happens very closely. We will need adequate time to consider Lords amendments when the Bill returns to this House, because to provide for only a few hours for that would show disrespect to the rightful and democratic primacy of this House.

The Treasury’s response to the commission’s report was published only three or four hours before we started considering the Bill on Report. I must say that it left a great deal to be desired. It did not have the strength needed to carry on the work of the commission’s recommendations. If we needed any more evidence that the Government have been soft-pedalling on these issues, we need only look at how bank shares responded immediately after the response was published yesterday. They hardly gave the impression that the banks face strong challenges as a result of the reforms. Despite the Prime Minister’s promise to use the Bill to implement key aspects of the commission’s report, particularly with regard to criminal sanctions, so far nothing has materialised. We must hold our breath and hope that they will eventually find their way into the Bill in the other place.

It is a shame that the Government did not use this time in the House of Commons to take some proper steps forward, because ultimately if we are to have dialogue in Parliament it is necessary to start putting some flesh on the bones and including legislative provisions in the Bill, rather than leaving it to the Government as a matter of trust. That is the only way we ever really improve the quality and calibre of legislation.

There are a number of things that the Government have not agreed to do or have refused to act on so far. They have not risen to the challenge on the leverage ratio to drive the reforms that are needed from a UK perspective. Instead, they want to wait for international and European Union agreement to resolve the issue. They have fallen short of what is required for proper electrification of the ring fence separating retail and investment banking activities. That should have been backed up with a reserve power for full separation of the sector as a whole if ring-fencing proves ineffective. We hope that it will be effective, but the jury is out on that.

We think that the Government should have considered options, particularly in the sale of any state-owned assets in the main banks—RBS, in particular—to look not only at a split between good banks and bad banks, but at whether there is a case for changes in retail and investment banking or in relation to regional banking, but they rejected that. They have not gone for reform of

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the governance of the Bank of England to turn the court into a proper board, with the accountability needed to go alongside that when it comes to sounding the alarm on bank lobbying. We hope that the Minister will follow that up when the Bill comes before the House of Lords. There is not yet sufficient clarity on how the banking standards rules will relate to the codes of conduct or culture changes that we need in the sector. As we saw from an earlier Division, the Bill also falls short of the market study of competition in the sector, particularly as regards the retail banking activities that so many of our constituents feel frustrated about.

We tried our best to table as many amendments as we could. The Government should have listened and taken the opportunity to engage in that legislative process more effectively. We now have to find reforms to the banking system that not only focus on safety and the best interests of consumers and taxpayers but do the right thing for the economy. In our discussions on leverage and other aspects, we tried our best to make the case for a number of changes that might have got the banking sector serving the economy, going full steam ahead and giving credit support, particularly to small and medium-sized enterprises.

It is clear that this Bill is still in its infancy despite having completed half its parliamentary stages. It is acceptable as far as it goes, with its baby steps on reform, and we therefore do not seek to oppose its Third Reading. However, the Government now need to get serious. They must bolster the Bill to electrify the ring fence and ensure that it will work; stand up for consumers, with proper changes to promote choice and competition and protect those consumers from being ripped off; secure the best interests of the taxpayer; and ensure that we never again see such a level of damage inflicted on public finances and our economy. Far more is needed. The Government should be listening much more carefully to the parliamentary commission, in particular. They have to do far better than this.

5.1 pm

Guy Opperman (Hexham) (Con): After the global banking crash, my constituents in Northumberland wanted to see better banking, higher standards, fewer scandals, greater competition and a greater degree of choice and service. In the past three years, this Government have been on a slow but continual journey to reinvigorate British banking and clear up the mess that we inherited.

I believe that over the next couple of years smaller regional banks will spring up throughout this great country, and I want briefly to address the House on that matter. Paragraph 49 of the banking commission’s main summary gives an excellent summation of its views on competition in retail banking. I refer anybody interested in this to the grave and weighty paragraphs 313 to 343 of the larger volume, where they will see, in particular, the evidence of Anthony Thomson, the co-founder of Metro Bank, with whom I have worked at great length over the past two years to try to reinvigorate the regional banking market.

That culminated in a series of efforts that have been made with the various regulatory authorities, starting with meetings that my hon. Friend the Member for Chichester (Mr Tyrie) and I had in February 2012 with

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Mr Hector Sants, the then chief executive of the Financial Services Authority. Mr Sants followed that up by writing on 12 March 2012:

“We are conscious of the balance to be struck between ensuring high standards at the gateway, and the importance of allowing innovation and appropriate levels of access for new firms…there has been public debate about the potential advantages of new entrants in the area of small, regional banks focused on servicing the SME sector. In such cases we will be proportionate in our approach and would invite all firms with a viable business model and appropriate levels of resources to a pre-application meeting to help guide them through the application process”.

Those were wise words and a significant step by the then chief exec of the FSA.

Then came the Bill that became the Financial Services Act 2012, which, I am pleased to say, passed its Second Reading in this House on 23 April 2012. To my surprise, the Labour party voted against clause 5, which specifically emphasised

“the ease with which new entrants can enter the market, and…how far competition is encouraging innovation.”

Be that as it may, the banking commission and other parties hugely improved the approach to regional banking. I support the efforts of everyone involved and echo the words of the Minister and the shadow Minister.

Following a huge amount of effort outside this House to encourage regional banking, Mr Thomson and I held a conference in Gateshead on 7 June that was attended by 142 delegates, including the Minister. More important, however—this is of key relevance to the banking commission’s findings—Sam Woods, the director of the domestic UK banks division at the Prudential Regulation Authority, and Victoria Raffe, the director of authorisations at the Financial Conduct Authority, were also in attendance on that day. Those two people are in effect the gatekeepers of regional banking and of the authorisations and regulation that lie ahead. They were welcome and made the case that regional banks are the way ahead.

I for one expect at least three or four banks to spring up in the north-east over the next 12 to 18 months, ranging from asset-backed lenders such as Cambridge & Counties bank—

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): Order. I know that the hon. Gentleman is going to draw his speech into the Third Reading, because this is the Third Reading debate. The two must come together and it would be helpful if that happened sooner rather than later.

Guy Opperman: I will totally draw it into Third Reading, Mr Deputy Speaker. Those particular persons are very much affected and are working hand in glove with the Bill, which I support wholeheartedly.

5.6 pm

Mr McFadden: This is an unusual Bill, in that at the same time that it has sought to implement a reform recommended by the Vickers commission two years ago, it has run in parallel with the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, which periodically has produced reports and asked the Government to use the Bill to implement their findings.

I place on record my thanks to colleagues who served on the commission and all its staff. It was an intense effort and I do not think we could have produced our

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reports without the able efforts of the many staff who worked for us, led by Colin Lee, who is a great servant of this House.

I want to draw the Minister’s attention back to yesterday’s official response from the Government to the commission’s report of a few weeks ago. We read in yesterday’s newspapers that the Government were going to accept the vast bulk of the recommendations and the Minister opened the debate by saying something very similar. However, I have looked through the Government document in detail and wonder whether the Minister could confirm that the position is not that simple.

Paragraphs 2.32 and 2.33 reject part of our recommendations on pay. Paragraph 4.5 makes no commitment to legislation on access to basic bank accounts. Paragraph 3.24 passes to the regulator only consideration of the changes that we recommended on the corporate governance responsibilities of executives and bank chairmen. Paragraphs 3.34 and 3.35 in effect reject our recommendation for gender reports on operations on the trading floor. Paragraph 5.11 rejects our recommendation to consider splitting RBS into regional banks as part of the Government’s study on RBS. Paragraph 5.28 rejects our recommendations on the governance of the Bank of England. Paragraph 5.31 rejects our recommendations on the chairmanship of the Prudential Regulation Authority.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham East (Chris Leslie) said, the Government have also rejected recommendations on leveraging and ring-fencing, in particular ring-fencing in respect of the sector as a whole. When it comes to the implementation of recommendations, the chairman of the parliamentary commission yesterday described the attempt to ring-fence one particular group as “virtually useless”.

I stress to the Minister that it is not accurate to say that the Government have accepted the vast majority of the parliamentary commission’s recommendations. The document that was published yesterday is full of excuses and sleights of hand that pass on to the regulator for consideration firm recommendations that we made. I stress to those in another place, who may have a greater opportunity to amend the Bill, that they should read the document that was published yesterday with a careful eye to see what has been accepted and what has not.

Greg Clark: The right hon. Gentleman is not giving the response a fair reading. First, not all of the recommendations were addressed to the Government. Some of them were addressed to the regulators. Secondly, some of the recommendations that were made to the Government have been taken forward through actions that can be taken by the regulators. When colleagues look at the response, they will see that it is a broad endorsement of what was an excellent report.

Mr McFadden: Perhaps the Minister and I have different interpretations of the word “broad”. He may be able to persuade the hon. Member for Chichester (Mr Tyrie), on the basis of some warm words, that these are great concessions, but I remain to be convinced.

The Government have a great deal more to do to convince Parliament—this House and the other House—that they endorse the vast majority of the recommendations. The more one reads the report that was published yesterday, the less one comes to that conclusion. I hope

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that those who are in a position to amend the Bill in future take heed of that and press with greater determination than Members of this House the amendments that would fully and faithfully implement the recommendations of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards.

5.12 pm

David Rutley (Macclesfield) (Con): I was not able to participate in the Public Bill Committee or the parliamentary commission, but I have followed their work from a distance. We must recognise the important progress that has been made over recent weeks and months.

I praise my hon. Friend the Member for Chichester (Mr Tyrie), Chairman of the Treasury Committee and of the parliamentary commission. He has taught me a lot during my time in Parliament. Tim Knox, the director of the Centre for Policy Studies, has said of my hon. Friend that

“he’s quite prepared to argue half the night over whether a comma should be a semi-colon—which is reflective of the seriousness with which he takes his work.”

My hon. Friend is prepared to do a lot more than that. He is prepared to debate and work tirelessly for months on end with colleagues on both sides of the House and with Ministers to move matters forward.

The huge progress that has been made in recent months on this important subject is also a credit to the Minister and his colleagues on the Front Bench. The Government’s response, which was published yesterday, moved the debate forward. On page 22, it summarises the failure that took place at HBOS. I worked at HBOS from 2005 to 2007 and saw at first hand the problems with the federal structure at the bank. I hasten to add that I worked in the general insurance side of the business, which was performing particularly well. It was clear that there was a problem with managing risk across the entire business. It was also clear from my interactions with the Financial Services Authority that it did not have a grip on the regulation of the smaller parts of the business or the business as a whole. It was clear that my business friends in Yorkshire who worked outside the bank recognised that the bank was involved in very racy deals. They kept asking me how the bank could support them. The FSA clearly was not paying sufficient attention to what was going on.

The Bill is vital. It is critical to bringing about the individual accountability that many of us want to see across our financial services sector, with the tough senior persons regime, reversing the burden of proof and criminal sanctions for reckless misconduct. All those steps are vital, as is the ring fence and the attempts to electrify it. They will bring about a meaningful distinction between what goes on in retail banks, which are vital for individuals and small businesses, and more risky investment banking. In my interaction with other banks, such as HBOS and Barclays, it was clear that they had very different cultures and needed to be brought under control. The ring fence will help to do that.

It is important to bring about enhanced competition. I helped to launch Asda’s introduction to financial services, and other retail brands have moved into financial services too. As my hon. Friend the Member for Hexham (Guy Opperman) said, we need new entrants. That will encourage greater competition and help us in our task

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of building trust in our financial services sector. It is good to see, in recommendation 4.22, that the Government will be initiating an independent study into the feasibility of the costs and benefits of full account portability. Bold, radical steps are required to move things forward and build the trust we want to see in our financial services sector. I commend the work of the parliamentary commission and the Government in taking these steps forward.

5.16 pm

John Mann (Bassetlaw) (Lab): A vast amount of hard work has been diligently done for such a puny and inadequate set of proposals. Where does it leave us, if we look at the big picture? There is a debate about the Government’s failure to electrify the ring fence, although as I recall, the financial crisis started with Northern Rock and Lehman Brothers, where the ring fence would have made no difference whatever. What are we trying to address?

We have two banks in state ownership that are still in crisis. Clearly, the Government have no idea what to do with RBS, from who is running it and the Government’s cack-handed handling of Mr Hester’s departure, to what its role should be. Should RBS exist? Should it be broken up? How should it be broken up? Can it be broken up? How could competition emanate from breaking it up? We hear the word competition all the time. I was a signatory to the extremely modest bank account portability amendment that, rightly, was tabled. The structure of banking, however, remains pretty much as was. There is significantly less competition than there was 10 years ago. Building societies have been consolidated and about a third have vanished.

Where is the international level? This was not a British crisis, but today, as a consequence of the British LIBOR scandal, we have lost out to New York, which has played its political hand far more astutely than the Government and has grabbed business from this country. Frankfurt and Paris will be lining up to do the same. We are dealing with international banks, and the Government’s insular look at what should be done, presuming that British solutions will add to British competition, is a misnomer. We face problems with transparency in the UK dependencies, which, unlike any other country, we can influence. They remain totally opaque, specifically in relation to banking and subsidiaries—there is nothing there. On international banking agreements, the Government are hiding even from the modest proposals emanating from Brussels, of all places. This is not going to solve our problems. Competition has not moved forward, and there is no evidence that it will. The Government have an aspiration, but no strategy, for competition, so we remain with none. The problem of oligarchies running investment banking worldwide has not changed either; it remains as was—a fundamental weakness in the banking stranglehold over the rest of the economy—and totally unaddressed.

The fundamental issue that some posed at the beginning will remain the Achilles heel of all politicians and whoever is in government in this country from now on: if there is a further banking crisis and individuals—known as voters—are in a panic over their savings, there is no politician in any Government who would not bail out those accounts. No Government, whatever their colour, whatever the economic situation, would survive grabbing the electorate’s savings.

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Most fundamentally, we have failed to create a concept of tiered risk for consumers to give them a choice. It has worked before. The classic example is a simple one, but a real one: the premium bond. When the premium bond was introduced, people knew that it was totally guaranteed; they knew it was not the best way of investing, but they bought them because they were absolutely guaranteed. We do not do that with our savings now. We have not created the options that would let our constituents say, “We’ll put X amount in here, knowing we’ll get a lower return than elsewhere, because the Government will give an absolute guarantee. And we can put Y amount in a middle-risk option, where there are some guarantees to certain levels, and we’ll put Z amount into something with great returns, but explicitly no Government guarantee.”

Our failure to create those options has created a fundamental weakness. I would not even describe that as radical; I would call it a rather conservative, with a small c, and moderate proposal, giving choice, creating markets and trusting people. We have not done that. At some stage, a future Government—not this one or the next one, I hope, or one in our lifetime—will face the dilemma again and will be forced to bail out a bank. There is the danger, however, that it might come more suddenly than that.

David Rutley: Does the hon. Gentleman not recognise that there are options for fully guaranteed savings with National Savings & Investment as well as the £85,000 protection? There are those opportunities for people.

John Mann: I sit on the Treasury Select Committee; the hon. Gentleman served on it, so we have a modicum more information on these matters, as do other hon. Members, than our constituents. Nothing has changed for them, however. Fundamentally, there has been no segmentation of the market, which is why the new challenger banks are getting no further. Only a tiny, tiny proportion of business is going to them. We have not restructured, even though in RBS and Lloyds TSB we have the perfect opportunity, owing to the crisis, to restructure. Across the world, we see vast numbers of people suffering and Governments of every political persuasion being voted out because of the financial crisis and the decisions they have made. This Government might face the same dilemma. I am not commenting on whether the decisions on the deficit and debt are right or wrong economically, politically or socially—that is a critical debate, but it is a different debate—but the fact that we are in this situation and we are not addressing it for the future in anything but the most micro-management way is part of that weakness.

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The Government might want to give themselves plaudits and say, “Well, perhaps we’re doing a little better than the Government of Greece or Spain,” or whichever Government it is. The Americans can slap themselves on the back and say, “Unlike the Brits, we’ve got our act together. We’ve targeted their banks. We’ve portrayed them as the wrongdoers. We’ve managed to shift some of the powers to ourselves,” which is precisely what is going on among the political, banking and business classes in Washington and New York. They are winning that battle.

I will end on this point. This is a world crisis. My research document proves that every one of the top 50 banks in the world, without exception, have been involved in criminality in recent times. That is staggering for any industry. For us to hold that industry together with sticking tape, not even with the most damaged and shattered elements, including those that have had to be nationalised, such as Lloyds TSB—

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): Order. Mr Mann, your time is up—that is the story of your life at the moment.

5.26 pm

Three hours having elapsed since the commencement of proceedings on consideration, the debate was interrupted (Programme Order, 8 July).

The Deputy Speaker put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair (Standing Order No. 83E), That the Bill be now read the Third time.

Question agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.


Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill (Programme (No. 2))

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 83A(10)),

That the Order of 24 June 2013 (Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill (Programme)) be varied as follows:

(1) Paragraph (3) of the Order (conclusion of proceedings in Committee of the whole House) shall be omitted.

(2) Proceedings in Committee of the whole House shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion six hours after the commencement of proceedings on the Motion for this Order.—(Mike Penning.)

Question agreed to.

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Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill

(Clauses 1 to 9)

[Relevant documents: Second Report from the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, Session 2012-13, Draft Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, HC 1003, and the Government response, Cm 8621.]

Considered in Committee

[Mr Lindsay Hoyle in the Chair]

Clause 1

Donations

5.27 pm

Naomi Long (Belfast East) (Alliance): I beg to move amendment 7, page 2, line 25, leave out ‘October’ and insert ‘January’.

The Chairman of Ways and Means (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment 8, page 2, line 37, leave out ‘October’ and insert ‘January’.

Amendment 2, page 2, line 43, at end insert—

‘(2A) In section 71E of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (duty not to disclose contents of donation reports) after subsection (3) insert—

(3A) Such information may be disclosed where a donation received by a Northern Ireland recipient on or after 1 October 2014 exceeds £7,500.

(3B) Such information may be disclosed where the total donations received by a Northern Ireland recipient from a relevant person in a year exceeds £7,500, save that no information on donations received before 1 October 2014 may be published.”.’.

Amendment 6, page 2, line 43, at end insert—

‘(2A) Section 71B of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 is repealed.’.

Clauses 1 and 2 stand part.

Naomi Long: My amendments 7 and 8 aim to ensure that all donations made to Northern Ireland political parties from January 2014 will eventually be subject to publication. That would not interfere with the Secretary of State’s right to make a decision to extend the period of secrecy and non-publication that currently applies to donations made to political parties. That would remain in the Secretary of State’s gift even if amendments 7 and 8 were accepted. However, they would make it clear to the general public that anything donated after January 2014 will eventually be made public, once the Secretary of State deems the security situation to be appropriate.

I believe that there is a lack of transparency in Northern Ireland politics, which causes significant public concern. That is reflected by the views of the Electoral Commission, which has commissioned a series of surveys on the matter. They show that a significant proportion of the public believe that this is a matter of concern to them. They want to know how their political parties are funded, and whether that funding has an impact on what the parties say and do in office. It is hugely important that we should move towards transparency as we try to normalise the situation in Northern Ireland.

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5.30 pm

Lady Hermon (North Down) (Ind): Will the hon. Lady take this opportunity to confirm that the Electoral Commission for Northern Ireland, which is held in high esteem there, supports her amendments and does not believe that the deadline of 1 January 2014 gives sufficient notice either to political parties or to donors?

Naomi Long: The hon. Lady is correct to say that the Electoral Commission for Northern Ireland supports the amendments and believes that they would be practical in providing adequate support and advice to donors and political parties to make them fully aware of the change by January 2014. No substantive reasons have been given for this move not being able to proceed by 2014. Given all the issues surrounding transparency, and the public concern about the opaque nature of political funding in Northern Ireland, it is important to take this opportunity to make it clear that we want maximum transparency for the public there. We want the kind of transparency that the rest of the United Kingdom already enjoys, but which, for security reasons, we have been unable to enjoy until now.

For me, this is a matter not only of amendments 7 and 8, which I have tabled. I also want to refer to the other amendments in this group. Amendment 2 differs from those amendments, in that it seeks to set in stone the lifting of the veil of secrecy on party political donations in Northern Ireland by October 2014. It would not entirely remove the Government’s ability to extend the period further in an emergency. The Bill could, for example, include an order-making power to ensure that the Government could come back to the House in an emergency and reinstate the existing provisions, but they would need to have a substantive reason for doing so and they would have to bring their argument to the House and gain its support.

I put on record at Second Reading, and I want to do so again today, that this is not about being cavalier or dismissive about the security situation in Northern Ireland. Nor is it about dismissing the potential threat to those who donate to political parties. It is about accepting that that should not automatically, as of right, outweigh the public’s right to scrutinise donations to political parties. If we lift the bar and allow donations over £7,500 to be published, in line with the rest of the United Kingdom, people will factor in that decision when deciding whether to make such donations. Given that all the political parties have said that they get very few donations of that size, the proposal would not impede the normal democratic fundraising capacity of the Northern Ireland parties.

It is also important to confidence and trust that the public should believe that their elected representatives are not available for sale. The only way to convince people of that is to maximise transparency around these issues. No political party can defend itself against that charge while the secrecy continues to exist, because the information will not be in the public domain and available for scrutiny. My own party reveals such information voluntarily, and we encourage other parties to do so, but I believe that as of October 2014, we should be moving towards a more normalised situation for donations. The onus should be on donors to decide whether they wish to donate, knowing that their donation will be made public.

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I shall listen carefully to what my colleagues in the Democratic Unionist party say about amendment 6. My understanding is that their intention is to remove entirely the possibility of donations to the Northern Ireland political parties from the Republic of Ireland. I cannot support that, and I want to explain why. Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances are reflected not only in our constitutional arrangements but in the fact that some parties operate on a Northern Ireland-only basis, some on a UK-wide basis and others on an all-Ireland basis. Taking that into account, I believe that it would be unfair completely to close the door to donations from the Republic of Ireland. A situation could be created in which parties that operate on an all-UK basis could receive donations from Dundee, Devon and Derby, while those that operate on a Northern Ireland-only basis would be unable to receive donations from Donegal or Dublin. I think that would be unfair.

I have a degree of sympathy, however, with the concerns expressed by the Democratic Unionist party on Second Reading about the potential for overseas donors to put money through the Republic of Ireland, essentially circumventing the rules on foreign donations. Indeed, I supported the Select Committee recommendation in paragraph 44 where we set out our concerns about that. Although we stopped short of recommending that all donations from the Republic of Ireland be stopped, we did recommend that the Secretary of State should seek to include provisions in the Bill that would close that particular loophole. I would be happy to support measures to do that, but I do not feel that it would be just or right to support measures that would simply put a bar on any donations from the Irish Republic, even if those people are resident and are donating to a party that operates on a Northern Ireland basis. That would not be fair or just.

I encourage all Members to consider amendments 7 and 8. Some might not agree with amendment 2, but I do not believe that the hands of the Secretary of State are in any way tied with respect to security judgments. I believe that amendments 7 and 8 will ensure clarity for donors, who will know that any money above £7,500 donated from January onwards will be subject to publication at whatever point in the future the Secretary of State decides that it is safe to declare the information. Clarity will be provided for members of the public who will know that we are moving in the direction of full transparency, in the same way as any other region of the UK. This draws the line under what has been a very tortured issue for a very long time. I hope that when the opportunity arises, Members will vote in favour of increasing transparency on these matters.

Nigel Mills (Amber Valley) (Con): It is a pleasure to see you in the Chair, Mr Hollobone. I rise to speak to amendment 2, which is in the name of the hon. Member for Belfast East (Naomi Long) and myself. It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Lady’s speech, and I am grateful to her for supporting the amendment that I proposed—one that is obviously consistent with the recommendations of the Select Committee on the matter of transparency for larger political donations. This recommendation was not disputed in the Committee and there was no vote or dissenting voice, as can be seen in the report. Looking back over the evidence given to the Committee by every Northern Ireland political party, it becomes clear that there is little evidence that the

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parties are receiving many donations above this specified amount, so it is not as if we are talking about a large number of people potentially at a security risk.

A fair number of the parties favoured transparency, and the hon. Member for Belfast East has pointed out that her party already publishes its donations, while the Green party and Sinn Fein said they were in favour in the evidence given to us. It is not quite so easy, however, to find on Sinn Fein’s website all of its donations. Some of us have tried and have asked, but the information does not quite seem to be there.

Stephen Pound (Ealing North) (Lab): I am very impressed with the hon. Gentleman’s comments so far. Will he confirm for the record that the Conservative party, which organises in Northern Ireland, is now going to be fully transparent in respect of all the donations received by that august body?

Nigel Mills: If only that were not so far above my pay grade, I would be happy to answer the hon. Gentleman. It is a matter that he will have to put to party officials. I have never had the pleasure of campaigning for my party in Northern Ireland, so I have not been made aware of those rules. I think that transparency is the right thing and that such matters should be disclosed, but I have no problem saying that the hon. Gentleman would have to ask somebody else about how my party operates in Northern Ireland.

The issue before us today is how to find a balance between transparency and the security threat. It is right that the Committee should have a say on that today. We should be reflecting on the fact that it is 15 years since the Good Friday agreement, and on how much progress has been made. The G8 summit in Northern Ireland was held without a hitch; and we had the Queen’s jubilee tour last year. I had the pleasure of being there to see it, and it was amazing to see that Her Majesty did not need to go around with all the bullet-proof glass of the past. That shows all the progress we have made, yet we seem to be saying that 15 or 16 years on from the agreement, we still do not dare publish the largest donations made to political parties.

The amendment refers to donations of more than £7,500. I think all the parties agree that that is a rare event, but there must come a point at which the level of a donation is such that members of the public begin to suspect that it is buying some kind of influence. There should be a threshold beyond which the public are able to see what donations are being received, so that they can be sure that no influence is being bought.

I have no reason to doubt that all the parties in Northern Ireland are entirely fair, that they are not for sale, and that they do not change their policies to suit donations. I am not sure that all the people in Northern Ireland are quite as confident of that as I am, but it is for them to be cynical. Their view on the subject may not have been greatly enhanced by a BBC programme that was shown in Northern Ireland last Thursday evening, and which I believe has prompted some doubt about the entire propriety of what happens.

It is possible that those who wish to make small donations will not be able to risk the threat to their security, but those who choose to donate more than £7,500 should do so in the knowledge that the fact that they have done so will be published, on the basis that it

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may be suspected that they are buying some kind of influence. We want to ensure that it is absolutely clear that they are not doing that, that none of the parties would do that, and there is no suggestion of any wrongdoing.

If it is not robust enough now and will not be robust enough in October 2014, when does the Minister think that the security situation will be robust enough to allow the publication of information about larger donations? What must change between now and the point at which we shall be able to publish that information? What criteria will the Government use under their new power to bring about more transparency? I am not certain that anyone fully understands what the obstacles are now, and what improvements would be necessary for us to provide that increased transparency, which I think every party that gave evidence to the Select Committee agreed was, in theory, desirable.

David Simpson (Upper Bann) (DUP): As the hon. Gentleman knows, the Select Committee has discussed this issue on many occasions. Our party, along with nearly all the others, wants transparency, but the hon. Gentleman must realise that in parts of Northern Ireland today, to be a Unionist is to be an outcast. Subscribing to a political party could still put someone’s life in danger.

Nigel Mills: I bow to the hon. Gentleman’s expertise, but surely he agrees that such people can choose whether to donate a large amount to a party. If my amendment were passed, they could still donate £7,499 every year without their names being published. Surely he agrees that a donation can reach such a level that the donor must accept that it should be subject to transparency, because of the amount of influence that that donor might be exerting. The amendment provides that, in just over 14 months’ time, any donation that exceeds £7,500 will be made public. That would give an individual 14 months in which to make any large donation to a party that he or she wished to make—without the information being published—which would presumably tide the party over.

Ms Margaret Ritchie (South Down) (SDLP): This topic is very important to those of us who are involved in the political process in Northern Ireland. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that it is necessary to balance the security risk against the public good, and that in this instance the public want transparency and accountability in politics?

Nigel Mills: Yes. I made that point at the outset. The need for absolute security must be balanced against the need for transparency, and I decided that the level at which the balance tilted towards transparency was £7,500. The hon. Lady might choose a different figure, but there must be a point at which donations are seen to buy influence, and the details should therefore be published.

The leader of the hon. Lady’s party gave some of the most compelling evidence to the Select Committee. He said that his big fear was that if a small business man gave £1,000 to his, and her, party, another party might knock on the door and demand £2,000, because that business man was clearly willing to donate. I think that there is a risk at that level. That is why I did not table an

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amendment proposing that all donations should be made public, and I think that that is why the Select Committee recommended the £7,500 threshold as well.

Fifteen years after the Good Friday agreement, with all the progress that has been made, can we really justify maintaining the secrecy of all the large political donations to Northern Ireland parties when in the rest of the UK we have the publication of much smaller donations with no trouble? We accept that there is a unique situation in Northern Ireland. The security situation there is clearly different from what those of us representing seats in the mainland face, but for how many more years can we tolerate there not being this transparency in politics in the UK?

5.45 pm

Naomi Long: Even if we judge that the risk now is high, the point is that there will never be a point at which we can say there is no risk. This provision is about transitioning and saying that the donor must now take some responsibility for judging whether to take that risk, and that that risk should not always outweigh the public interest.

Nigel Mills: Absolutely, and if this amendment were passed, a donor would still have 14 months in which to make any donations they wanted to make and have them not made public. I suspect that would get the political parties through the 2015 general election, and that if they planned things carefully, they could get enough funds to get through the 2016 Assembly elections, so there would be no detriment to party funding until perhaps the 2020 elections in terms of the need for very large donations. That would give everyone a large amount of time to adjust to these new transparency rules.

I therefore ask the Minister to set out why the Government are apparently reluctant to go down this route even for the largest donations. I note that in their response to the Select Committee they said they would carefully consider any restrictions on transparency after October 2014. It would be useful to understand what their criteria are for making that decision. I accept, however, that the Minister cannot, and should not, tell us the specific intelligence he has about security threats.

Northern Ireland Members obviously understand Northern Ireland politics better than I do, but it is my understanding that the details of anyone who nominates a candidate or who stands for a council are published. If we have not had any evidence that there is a real security threat to people participating in those aspects of Northern Ireland democracy, why do we have this threat in respect of donations? It is worth asking how credible it is to have those two opposing situations, whereby it is safe to nominate or stand but it is not safe to donate money. I am not sure whether there is a very convincing argument for that.

Lady Hermon: Like the hon. Gentleman, I have the privilege of sitting on the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee. When we took evidence on this issue, we took evidence privately and in public session, and we took it in written as well as oral form. Did we ever receive evidence from a donor to any political party or to any independent Member of the Parliament that they felt at risk of being targeted by terrorists or anyone else for donating?

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Nigel Mills: No, of course we did not receive any such evidence. We do not know who the donors are, so we could not go and ask them. That question was raised with some of the parties; they were asked whether they had any evidence from their donors that could be put on an anonymous basis, and I do not recall any evidence along those lines being received.

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP): A few moments ago the hon. Gentleman drew comparisons between elected representatives and donors, but elected representatives chose to put their names forward—in the same way as some of us on this side of the House chose to wear the uniform of the Crown, and served in Northern Ireland. That is a choice we made. The donors do not necessarily make a choice to have their names and addresses and businesses all known. That is the difference. The difference is between those who make these choices and those who donate and do not want to make anybody else aware of that. Derbyshire is not like South Down. Amber Valley is not like Belfast. They are two different places—there are different situations and different circumstances—and, with the greatest respect, I am a wee bit unsure that the hon. Gentleman is aware of all the background in Northern Ireland.

Nigel Mills: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that intervention. Clearly, people who make donations before October 2014 should not have their details published, as that would not be their understanding of what would happen. My argument is that if they choose to make a large donation after 1 October 2014, they would be doing so on the understanding that they will be named—they would be choosing to be in that situation. I have no desire to force someone into a position that is not what they understood it to be, as it would be entirely wrong to do so.

I do not doubt that my constituency is very different from that of the hon. Gentleman and I do not want to underestimate his understanding of those risks, as they are clearly far greater than those in my constituency will ever be. However, we are all asked, as Members of Parliament in the UK, to vote on this Bill and to make these choices. We need to be in a situation where there is sufficient normality in Northern Ireland to be able to publish details of these donations. I am not convinced that we have not reached that point now and that for large donations it would not be the right way in which to tip that delicate balance, especially when we are not getting credible evidence from anybody that there is a real threat or that any past incidents would give us real cause for concern. Perhaps that evidence exists and just cannot come into the public domain. I have no doubt that the Minister will have information that is far stronger than the Committee could get its hands on or perhaps should get its hands on.

On the current balance of the arguments, I think we should be publishing details of those larger donations. I accept that we are not in a position to do that in respect of smaller donations, but let us make that change. Let us say that we have progressed far enough, 15 or 16 years on from that historic agreement, to think that the situation in Northern Ireland is strong enough for us to be able to publish details of those large donations. Let us go for transparency for the whole political process, and let us show that it is clean and that people cannot

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be bought. Let us not continue any longer with this fear or misunderstanding that the process is corrupt. That is where we are, and the events of last week and that television programme have raised again fears that something is happening which should not be happening. We all sincerely hope that it is not.

Mr Nigel Dodds (Belfast North) (DUP): I am pleased to be able to take part in this debate. First, I wish to discuss amendment 6, which stands in my name and that of my colleagues, and then I will comment on the other proposals in the group. The hon. Member for Amber Valley (Nigel Mills) put a legitimate point of view, one that had support in the Select Committee but has not found favour with the Government, so I look forward to hearing the Minister speak on it. It is also worth making the general comment in relation to all these matters that the Bill did go through pre-legislative scrutiny. That is not to say that it cannot be improved or that we cannot debate it and tease out the various issues—that is what we are here to do. The hon. Gentleman referred to recent programmes and, of course, we also have to bear in mind the recent “Panorama” programme and The Sunday Times exposure of issues relating to Back-Benchers here and members of the other place. All these issues are very pertinent and need to be examined, too.

Our amendment 6 would repeal section 71B of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. Political parties in Northern Ireland currently follow different rules from parties in Great Britain. Many people in the UK—UK taxpayers and voters—might be slightly surprised that a different set of rules applies on donations to people who can be elected to the House of Commons to make laws for the whole of the United Kingdom if they are in political parties in one part of the UK. The 2000 Act was passed to prevent foreign influence through donations being made without transparency, openness and all the rest of it and to ensure that donations were made by legitimate donors—donors who reside in the United Kingdom or who have locus in the UK, because, after all, the political parties to which they are donating are making laws for the UK. By logic, therefore, the same rules should apply across the UK to all the political parties represented in this House. That is what the amendment seeks to achieve.

In Great Britain, donations are permissible only from individuals or bodies in the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland parties, exceptionally, are allowed also to receive donations and loans from the Irish Republic. The amendment would end that exemption and put Northern Ireland on the same footing as the rest of the United Kingdom. One argument that is made over and over by many people, quite validly and properly, is that Northern Ireland should be brought into line with the rest of the United Kingdom. Usually, that argument is applied to the question of transparency and the revelation of the identities of donors—I shall come to that in a short while—but it never seems to be raised in the context of this glaring loophole, which preserves a special position, effectively for the benefit of nationalist parties. Let us be frank: that is why it was brought in originally and why it was lobbied for.

I listened carefully to the hon. Member for Belfast East (Naomi Long) and I understand where she is coming from. I understand the argument she advanced

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and the way in which she advanced it. Her concern was more to do with the loophole whereby donations come not so much from citizens or organisations in the Republic but from individuals or companies who are used as a conduit for political donations to parties in Northern Ireland from outside the Irish Republic—from the United States, or wherever. That is the real problem. It was identified by the Select Committee, which recommended that the loophole be closed.

The purpose of our amendment is to highlight that glaring loophole. We cannot have an exception that allows donations to come in from abroad and thereby allows them to come in from even further afield than intended—from America, Australia, Canada, other parts of the European Union or wherever else. That issue must be addressed. It is entirely unacceptable, when we talk about transparency, openness and all the rest of it, that in Northern Ireland parties that are represented or may be represented in this House could be funded by bodies, individuals and organisations in other parts of the world yet we would never be able to find out because of this exception.

I appeal to the Minister to consider the issue, to consider very carefully not just what we have said but what the Select Committee has said and to take the matter away and see how the loophole can be closed. If we are trying to move forward and bring the law on donations gradually and cautiously into line, we must do it across the board, not just on the issue addressed by clause 1 and the other amendments but on the issue we are raising through amendment 6.

Lady Hermon: I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. I need some assistance in making up my mind about whether to support the amendment, so I would like him to explain precisely the remit of section 71B of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act, as amended. Does his amendment affect only donations from Irish citizens outside the United Kingdom, or would it apply equally to those who believe themselves to be Irish citizens living in the UK, and who might even wish to donate to the Democratic Unionist party?

6 pm

Mr Dodds: The hon. Lady asks for clarification; I think the position is pretty clear. The position of those who would see themselves as Irish, or who hold an Irish passport and live in the United Kingdom, would not be affected at all. The exception allowed for in the 2000 Act as amended allows people who do not reside in the United Kingdom, but who do reside and have a residence qualification in the Irish Republic, to donate to Northern Ireland parties. We are saying that that is a back door route; the donations may be from individuals, companies and organisations in the Irish Republic, but that money can come from wherever—there is no regulation whatsoever. That is why we have tabled the amendment.

Naomi Long: I concur with the right hon. Gentleman’s concerns about international donations, but does he not agree that closing down all donations from the Irish Republic for parties that operate on an all-Ireland basis would not be fair, when parties that operate on a Northern Ireland or UK-wide basis can still get donations

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from the whole of the UK? Is it not more important that the Minister of State goes away and looks at how we can deal with the international issue in collaboration with the Irish Government, who manage their rules?

Mr Dodds: I have asked the Minister to take the matter away and consider it, but the fundamental point is that we are talking about the United Kingdom. When it comes to laws on donations, the electoral system for this House, and the way in which Members of the House are treated, right across the board, I believe that we are a Parliament of the United Kingdom, and Members of the House should all be equal, regardless of where we come from.

As far as the political set-up in Northern Ireland is concerned, there is absolutely nothing to stop political parties getting donations from any part of the United Kingdom, although I have to say that it is not common for Northern Ireland parties—the hon. Lady can bear this out—to be inundated with donations from other parts of the United Kingdom. I think that parties on this side of the water have that market well and truly cornered, whatever the source of the donations. We certainly do not get donations from the unions in Northern Ireland, either.

This is a point of principle for us, I suppose. The hon. Lady may not agree with it, and she has a perfectly valid perspective, but our view is that we are part of the United Kingdom, and we should all abide equally by the rules of the United Kingdom. The fundamental point is that the situation is not only wrong in principle but wide open to abuse; a coach and horses could be driven through the provisions, in ways that run contrary to the reasons for introducing the measures in the 2000 Act. They were brought in to pander to Sinn Fein in particular. Whatever the reasons may have been for that, years ago, those reasons have long since ceased to apply, and everybody should be on a level playing field.

Nigel Mills: I have sympathy with what the right hon. Gentleman is saying. One of the concerns of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee was that his amendment would effectively contravene the provisions of the Good Friday agreement—that freedoms allowed there effectively enable an all-Ireland party to operate, and what he is trying to do would stop that happening—and that is perhaps not the way Parliament ought to go.

Mr Dodds: Nothing in the amendment, or in our proposal, would prevent a party from operating in both Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. Likewise, there is nothing to stop a party from operating on a UK-wide basis, if it wished to. All the provision does is put Northern Ireland parties in exactly the same position as those in the rest of the United Kingdom, so that we are subject to the same rules and scrutiny. That is a perfectly legitimate point of view, which the Minister needs to consider.

Amendment 2 in the name of the hon. Member for Amber Valley (Nigel Mills) means that after 1 October 2014 all protected information should be published in relation to all donations over £7,500. Protected information is anything that could identify the person or organisation that made a donation during the prescribed period of donor anonymity. The amendment would remove the protection after 1 October 2014 and would remove all

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discretion from the Secretary of State so that, as the hon. Gentleman said, after that date all donors and their details would be published.

We discussed the issue generally on Second Reading and the Government set out their position, which was opposed to that of the hon. Gentleman. Generally speaking, we welcomed the Government’s approach, which was one of caution but of cautious progress. We made it clear in the House that we want to see Northern Ireland on all fronts—not just, as some people have it, selectively—moving forward and coming into line with the rest of the United Kingdom. Right across all fronts we wish to see that.

We welcome the fact that amendments 7 and 8, as well as amendment 2, safeguard the anonymity of those who have donated up till now. Some have argued that that should not be accepted, but it is accepted by everybody and rightly so. The question is whether the Government should still have regard to the circumstances in October 2014, or whether we should make a decision now that as of that date, regardless of the situation or circumstances, the discretion is taken away.

Vernon Coaker (Gedling) (Lab): Does the right hon. Gentleman share my concern about clause 1(3)? He said that people who had made a donation up till now have their anonymity guaranteed, yet clause 1(3) seems to suggest that there might be circumstances in which the anonymity of those who gave before the Bill is enacted might be breached.

Mr Dodds: The hon. Gentleman makes a good point. I flagged that up on Second Reading and the Minister may want to look at it. The Bill is a tidying-up exercise, and the matter will have to be addressed in another place or on Report. The question is whether the clause leaves open some kind of discretion. When the Select Committee considered the matter, it recommended that the clause should be tightened so that there was certainty that anonymity would be preserved. There should be no room for doubt.

The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Mike Penning): The right hon. Gentleman is right. The protection of people who have given donations to a political party in Northern Ireland cannot be lifted retrospectively unless they give permission. If they are happy for their data to be released, the Electoral Commission may wish to do so. That, I think, is what the right hon. Gentleman is referring to. I will look at the provision again, but there is absolutely no intent whatever to release data on anybody retrospectively unless they agree to that.

Mr Dodds: I very much welcome what the Minister has said. I think that is the intent of everybody. The slight concern is about the drafting and the need for the intention to be explicitly spelled out in those terms. Some commentators have pointed out that the current wording is somewhat loose with regard to the possibility of some discretion. Given the situation with regard to litigation on these matters, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that somebody will test it in court. The provision needs to be tightened up.

Mike Penning: If there is that concern, the Government will table an amendment in the other House and close it.

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Mr Dodds: I very much welcome that and thank the Minister for his commitment.

Stephen Pound: This is an important aspect of the Bill that we must thoroughly ventilate. Does the right hon. Gentleman share my concern that although data may not be available for release, they do exist? If data are collated, stored and placed in a silo of information, there is always the fear and concern that they could be released. Examples at the moment from the other side of the Atlantic indicate that point. Does the right hon. Gentleman have any suggestions about how we could address that concern?

Mr Dodds: The hon. Gentleman makes an important point about data that are held and not meant for publication yet somehow find themselves in the public domain, and we can all cite many examples of that happening in recent years. There are, of course, criminal sanctions, but that does not necessarily guarantee anything. The fact of the matter is that it depends on the good will and good faith of those who safeguard such information, and on proper security to ensure that what Parliament intends and enacts is followed through. The hon. Gentleman raises an important point that rightly concerns people, and the Government may wish to comment on what steps they are taking to ensure that information does not enter the public domain when people have been guaranteed that it will not.

Returning to amendment 2, which would remove the discretion, we put on record our concerns that donors to political parties in the rest of the UK do not face the same problems as donors to parties in Northern Ireland. The hon. Member for Amber Valley (Nigel Mills) pointed out the tremendous progress that has been made, which we all recognise, value and celebrate, but there is still a serious threat in terms of terrorism and public safety. Not long ago there was the murder of a prison officer, David Black, and there have been other serious incidents, disruptions and bomb attacks. We operate in a different climate—it is much improved and better than it used to be—but most people accept that we are still in a situation in which caution must be exercised.

As we move forward to a more normalised society, we hope that the threat from dissidents and others will recede and continue to be dealt with. As we put the violent past behind us, it is right and proper that we move towards a system of donations and loans, as employed in the rest of the United Kingdom, and we support the normalisation process for political donations as outlined in the Bill.

Lady Hermon: I am extremely grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for taking so many interventions. Will he kindly reflect on a question that I asked on Second Reading? While we all accept and do not query the dreadful times that all of us of a certain age have lived through in Northern Ireland, we are now in more peaceful times. Will the right hon. Gentleman quantify in numbers—this will be helpful for people at home watching the debate—the threats to current donors to the Democratic Unionist party? Is it in half dozens or dozens, and can he quantify that in changed circumstances and—thank the Lord—quieter times in Northern Ireland?

Mr Dodds: A point was made earlier—I do not know whether it came from the hon. Lady or someone else—that the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee did not hear

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from a donor saying how afraid they would be if their identity was made public. It is not easy for people in that position, and there will not be lots of people coming forward and making their position clear. By necessity, some of these things will be done with the least publicity and information as possible from the donor’s point of view, because they want to protect their anonymity.

The Select Committee heard from the First Minister—I have already cited his evidence—from David McClarty, an independent MLA, and from representatives of my party, the Social Democratic and Labour party, the UK Independence party, which of course is becoming a major force in the rest of the United Kingdom, although not particularly in Northern Ireland, and the Ulster Unionist party. They all urged the Secretary of State to exercise caution when modifying the current confidentiality arrangements for political loans and donations in Northern Ireland. As the Committee’s report states:

“They argued that the security situation in Northern Ireland presented a barrier to implementing the same transparency regime as Great Britain because donors remained at risk of violence and intimidation”.

6.15 pm

On Second Reading I quoted what the hon. Member for Belfast South (Dr McDonnell), the leader of the SDLP, told the Committee. He encapsulated his party’s concern and it is worth putting it on the record again:

‘Our difficulty is that we feel that we were particularly vulnerable in the past, in that some of our donors felt vulnerable and threatened… Sometimes, the threat is not even direct, but people are put under pressure and told, “You gave the SDLP £1,000 this week; we think that we are entitled to £2,000 this week”. The threat is at that level. In a situation in which there are still a handful of people moving about with guns, that threat is there.’

The Committee also heard from Mike Nesbitt MLA, the leader of the Ulster Unionist party, who expressed concerns that commercial donors would face recriminations in the form of boycotts of their businesses or violence. That is something that is very hard to pin down, because it is spread by word of mouth and those individuals might ask, “Why are people not coming in?” His party colleague Tom Elliott MLA, who represents Fermanagh and South Tyrone, told the Committee that “a number of businesses”—he could not quantify it—were being boycotted because of their affiliation to particular political parties. He said that two of the UUP’s commercial donors had recently contacted the party asking it not to send further correspondence to the company’s business premises in case the employee responsible for opening the post made public the fact that the company had donated to the party.

Those are real fears. They are not made up or designed to camouflage or cover up anything. Nevertheless, bearing all that in mind and exercising caution, I think that it is right that we support the provisions of the Bill, which are about moving towards greater transparency and openness when the situation allows.

Mr Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury) (Con): The right hon. Gentleman is making a number of very important points. A number of the Committee’s witnesses where asked why donors would be at greater risk than candidates, for example, or those who support candidates

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in other ways, perhaps by delivering leaflets, displaying posters, canvassing or signing the nomination papers. Why does he think that donors would be at greater risk that those participants?

Mr Dodds: It could be argued that donors are at as great a risk as those who put themselves forward as political representatives and stand for political parties. I suppose that one reason why they might choose to be a donor, rather than a candidate, is that they do not want to attract the sort of public attention that being a full or part-time public representative brings in Northern Ireland. They want to be involved in the political process, to support it and to have their political interests advanced and their views reflected, but they do not necessarily want to get involved in politics directly. However, even being a donor can attract problems for those people. There is a difference between being a donor and standing for election as a political representative. Not everybody wants to be a political activist. I think that there is a significant difference in the level of public attention that people want to attract, and that is human nature.

Nigel Mills: I want to take the right hon. Gentleman back to the quotes he gave about the commercial risk of a boycott if someone is exposed as a political donor. The leader of the UUP and the First Minister both said that it was the security risk that justified the lack of transparency and that the commercial downsides of a boycott alone would not be a sufficient threshold. Does he agree that it is only the security risk that justifies the lack of transparency?

Mr Dodds: I do not accept the hon. Gentleman’s point. I refer him to paragraph 23 of the research paper on this matter produced by the House of Commons Library, which says: