Shadow Treasury financial secretary Chris Leslie has attacked the Government’s “nonsense” refusal to back calls for the Financial Conduct Authority to be forced to publish board minutes.
On Tuesday, Leslie parked his amendment to the Financial Services Bill, which would have made publication of minutes a duty, after Treasury financial secretary Mark Hoban said he would “consider whether there is a way of including the measure without setting a precedent on the degree of intervention in how boards function”.
Speaking to Money Marketing, Leslie says by not making publication mandatory, the Government has so far failed to demonstrate the commitment it claims to have to transparency.
He said: “If the Government does not concede, it is something we may need to bring back on the floor of the House in a few weeks time, so more MPs can see the nonsense of their position.”
The amendment would have required the FCA to “publish, unless publication would be inappropriate, the agendas and minutes of the meetings of its committees and subcommittees”. When it makes a policy decision the minutes would need to “summarise the considerations which were taken into account, both for and against the decision”.
On Tuesday, Treasury financial secretary Mark Hoban told MPs at a meeting of the public bill committee currently voting on amendments to the bill that the FSA is “quite a transparent body when it comes to policymaking” and that publishing the minutes would “complete the loop”. But he said the FCA board should be allowed to decide how this is done.
“I do not have any objection to it, it is a good thing to do and clearly Lord Turner thinks it is a good thing to do,” he said.
In the public bill committee meeting on Tuesday afternoon, Leslie said he wants to “ratchet up the pressure” on committee members who might vote against the amendment. TSC member and Conservative MP Mark Garnier and his party and TSC colleague Jesse Norman have both voted against amendments Labour claims were intended to deliver on TSC recommendations.
Leslie said: “I understand that in Money Marketing, I have a copy here if Mr Garnier wants a spare copy, he recently said: ”With the minutes from board meetings public, we could say to them ’well you said this, it is in the minutes, can you explain what you meant’, rather than it all happening behind closed doors.’”
Leslie added: “I hope that being in a rather awkward position, he might put pressure on the minister to consider returning with a more appropriate amendment.”