The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answer on 19th May 2023:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked His Majesty’s Government how many cases of whistleblowing were reported and investigated by the Financial Conduct Authority in (1) 2022, (2) 2021, (3) 2020, and (4) 2019.
Baroness Penn (Con, Treasury Department): The FCA has reported and investigated the following number of whistleblowing cases for each year given:
On 11th May 2023, the House of Lords debated the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill in committee. The Bishop of St Albans spoke in support of an amendment tabled by Lord Coaker which would provide for the potential of financial compensation for victims of economic crime:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: I am sorry I have been unable to engage more fully and consistently with this Bill, but this amendment prompted me to come here when I had a few minutes. I was recently speaking to someone I met at a social gathering. In the course of the evening, we were talking about a whole range of things, and he was talking about the fact that he had been defrauded of some money and how it is now materially affecting his retirement. His comment was: “I feel so embarrassed, because I’ve always tended to think it was simple people who didn’t understand financial matters who were likely to lose money. I’m highly literate, I’ve done all the right things, but I’ve been defrauded”. This is having a big effect.
The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answers on 9th November 2022:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked His Majesty’s Government:
whether they consider that the new Consumer Duty set out by the Financial Conduct Authority in their policy statement PS22, published on 9 July, is the same as a general duty of care; and if not, what the differences are.
what assessment they have made of whether the new Consumer Duty set out by the Financial Conduct Authority in their policy statement PS22, published on 9 July, will be effective.
what plans they have, if any, to introduce a statutory duty of care for consumers.
On 9th March 2022, the House of Lords debated the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Bill in its second reading. The Bishop of Leeds spoke in the debate, raising concerns about the background to the bill, which was introduced in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine:
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, I welcome this Bill and the speed with which it is being brought to us, but I share some of the concerns that have been represented already. I do not intend to go into any of the detail of matters that have already been spoken about; I am sure other noble Lords would be better at that than I might be.
I hesitate to bring an ethical argument because, in my experience in this House, ethical arguments simply get ignored. Indeed, one Minister replied to an ethical argument made on a different Bill by saying, “We will not listen to strictures on morality from anyone.” That led me, at the next stage—on Report—simply to say that that implies there is no place in politics for ethics. But it is my ethical concerns, which one might represent as cultural, that cause me to stand now.
The Bishop of Durham asked a question on the government’s plans to tackle economic crime on 31st January 2023, during a debate on the planned Economic Crime Bill:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, those who decide to perpetrate economic crime are apparently targeted, swift and very bright about how they do it. I read the Statement and it mentions the Home Office, the Treasury and BEIS. Is it not time for more targeted, thought-through, quick action by government, rather than action that is divided across too many departments?
The Bishop of St Albans asked a question on financial fraud and money laundering in British Overseas territories during a debate on the scale of money laundering in the UK on 13th January 2022:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, in last year’s parliamentary debate on the Church Action for Tax Justice report Tax for the Common Good, the Minister assured us that progress was being made on reducing money laundering and financial fraud in our British Overseas Territories and Crown dependencies. Would he be able to update the House on this? If he cannot do so now, would he please write to me with information on the progress we are making?
Lord Agnew of Oulton (Con, Treasury): It is important to remind the House that the overseas territories are independent entities and that we cannot just force them to comply with our own regulations. But we have an ongoing dialogue with them. For example, we have a very useful exchange of information through the exchange of notes arrangements, and they have agreed to introduce publicly accessible registers of companies’ beneficial ownership. The discussions are very much ongoing and I respect the right reverend Prelate’s concern.
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