Clause 1 - The Agency and its Director

Part of Proceeds of Crime Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 10:45 am ar 13 Tachwedd 2001.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Mark Field Mark Field Ceidwadwyr, Cities of London and Westminster 10:45, 13 Tachwedd 2001

I endorse the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve). I also wish to register my concern regarding the qualifications of the person who is appointed as director. The Bill is lengthy, and it will arouse worries about the agency's powers among many people who work in the City of London. The recent events involving Railtrack have revealed that the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions does not fully understand the practices of the City of London. Apparently, it takes seven or eight days to prepare a 71-page document—but I have spent most of my career in the City of London, and anyone who has worked there knows that a 71-page document can be turned around within a matter of hours, especially when one is dealing with the global financial world.

I do not expect clause 1 to contain a determination of what professional qualifications the director should have, but we must ensure that that person has credibility with regard to the financial markets, and an understanding of current practices in the City of London. Given the real and extensive regulatory burdens on financial institutions, law firms and accountants, we need someone who will have credibility and an understanding of current day-to-day practices in the City of London. My concern mirrors concerns that the Opposition have expressed about other regulators, and it is all the more important to ensure that someone of genuine calibre and weight is appointed to this position. What thoughts does the Minister have about the absolute minimum professional qualifications that would be expected of someone who took on such a role?