Labour Shadow Treasury financial secretary Chris Leslie has attacked the Government’s “nonsense” refusal to back calls to force the Financial Conduct Authority to publish board minutes.
Last month, Labour put forward an amendment to the Financial Services Bill that would require the FCA to “publish, unless publication would be inappropriate, the agendas and minutes of the meetings of its committees and subcommittees” which summarise arguments for and against any policy decisions.
Last week, Leslie parked the amendment after Treasury financial secretary Mark Hoban said he would try to find a way of including the measure “without setting a precedent on the degree of intervention in how boards function”.
Hoban told MPs at a meeting of the public bill committee currently voting on bill amendments that the FSA is “quite a transparent body when it comes to policy- making” and publishing minutes would “complete the loop”. But he said it is a step that the FCA’s board should take voluntarily.
Leslie told the meeting he wants to “ratchet up the pressure” on public bill committee members who might vote against the amendment.
Treasury select committee member and Conservative MP Mark Garnier and his party and TSC colleague Jesse Norman have both voted against amendments that Labour claims were intended to deliver on select committee recommendations.
Leslie said: “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.’
“Being in a rather awkward position, he might put pressure on the minister to consider returning with a more appropriate amendment.”
Garnier responded that the requirement to publish minutes should not be set by the Government.
Speaking to Money Marketing, Leslie says “If the Government does not concede, it is something we may need to bring back on the floor of the house so more MPs can see the nonsense of its position.”
Labour amendments to the Financial Services Bill
- FCA to have regard to the “ease with which consumers can have access to financial services and products which are affordable and appropriate to their needs”.
- Regulated financial servicesfirms to exercise a “fiduciary duty” to customers instead of an “appropriate level of care”.
- A review of the co-ordination between UK and EU regulators within 12 months of the Financial Services Bill becoming law.
- FCA to “discharge its general functions in a way which promotes the growth and development of social finance and social investment”.
- FCA to have regard to raising standards of professionalism.
- FCA board to have a duty to publish the minutes from its board meetings.