New Clause 11 - Review into competitiveness

Part of Financial Services (Banking Reform) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 3:45 pm ar 16 Ebrill 2013.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark The Financial Secretary to the Treasury 3:45, 16 Ebrill 2013

My hon. Friend knows well that our approach is as a shareholder in those banks. We have not nationalised them, so it is not within our disposal simply to change the arrangements without regard to the interests of other shareholders. We had a debate this morning on fiduciary duty. Banks have a fiduciary duty  to look after all shareholders. That proposal is much debated, but contemplating it requires certain preparatory steps, which the Bill does not provide.

Setting out starkly in primary legislation a market share cap may have systemic dangers. In the event of a bank reaching its market share limit without there being a buyer for the assets it has for its customers, there would be a question of what is done with that, and whether that bank is caused to fail or is banned from operating as a result.

A high level of concentration is certainly a prima facie case that the market is uncompetitive, but it is not proof positive of that. That is why supervision of the matter should be in the hands of the authorities. It is why we have charged the new regulators with explicit objectives regarding competition. During my tenure in this office, every conversation that I have had with regulators has been to emphasise how seriously I personally and the Government take their important competition duties. Existing competition law also applies. For example, it is an offence to abuse a dominant position in a market. Again, I would be keen for the authorities to enforce that.

I hope that the Committee will understand the strength of the Government’s commitment to ensure that the market returns to a more vigorous state of competition. I would want to see the reversal of the concentration that arose as a result of the financial crisis. All the points that have been made today reinforce the need for that, and it will continue to be at the top of my agenda in the discharge of my duties.