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 Chris Leslie Chris Leslie Shadow Minister (Treasury) 3:45, 16 Ebrill 2013

Let us hope that the new Financial Conduct Authority will exercise its powers to promote competitive markets forcefully and fully. It is an incredibly important aspect of banking reform. The debate that we have just had properly reflects the strength of feeling on both sides of the Committee about the need to restructure the way in which banking services are provided, particularly for consumers in the UK. The Minister was right to point out the paradox that, despite our leading position globally, we still have, to coin a phrase used by the hon. Member for North East Somerset, relatively conservative attitudes to banking and banking service provision.

The hon. Member for Amber Valley made a reasonable interjection on the desire to see proper diversity within the market. Although I asked about the 20% figure, he does not suggest a particularly unreasonable metric. Obviously there would be significant effects on the market of moving in that direction, and there could be some significant consequences depending on the time scales involved, but there are some strong arguments that we should move from having the big five banks to having at least seven main providers within the system. It was incredibly good to hear of the Post Office moving into the current account market last week. That is a sensible decision and it is a trusted brand. It will be well worth while, although I understand that it is being done with the Bank of Ireland in a supporting role. Setting that to one side, though, the Post Office should do well. It has a presence on the high street and should appeal to many customers.

It is a difficult decision, when tabling amendments, whether to pick a particular figure and go for it or suggest a review. We went for the latter, but we want to find an opportunity to keep the ball rolling on this issue. The Minister has said some encouraging and positive things in this debate, but we need firmer milestones along the way. I regret that he said that it will be too soon to have a review. If a review is not the right milestone, the Government should think seriously about what other milestones and stepping stones along the way might be good devices to concentrate minds. Through that we would see some progress in the right direction.

My hon. Friend the Member for Foyle was right to highlight the different patterns of banking market that can occur across the different regions and nations of the UK and the historical banking patterns that many customers will have. That is firmly part of the Opposition’s agenda in promoting banking reform. We want to keep the Government’s feet to the fire on this issue. Far more action is necessary to diversify the sector, and we will undoubtedly want to return to this issue, which is a central part of banking reform, at a later date, but given the hour, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.