On the 6th September 2017 Lord Leigh of Hurley asked Government “whether it is their policy to reduce unnecessary regulation of financial services; and if so, whether they intend to review current Financial Conduct Authority practices to ascertain whether that regulator is going beyond what is appropriate and necessary to fulfil that policy.” The Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun asked a follow up question:
The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, when do Her Majesty’s Government intend to implement in full the principal recommendations of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, published in June 2013?
On 3rd February 2015, Lord Kennedy of Southwark asked Her Majesty’s Government when they plan further reform of the law regarding Credit Unions. The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I imagine many of us are concerned about the culture of debt that seems to be normative in many parts of our society. In the light of this, can the Minister tell us whether the Government have any plans, first, to encourage all schools to consider working closely with credit unions, as in the case of the credit union in St. Albans, where I come from and, secondly, to further roll out and encourage payroll savings schemes as part of a wider initiative to encourage saving and financial responsibility across society?
Lord Newby: My Lords, the Government support both those concepts. The right reverend Prelate will be aware that the Government have been working with the Archbishop of Canterbury’s task force on affordable credit and savings to institute the LifeSavers project, under which primary schools are working with credit unions to encourage young children into good savings habits and raise awareness of credit unions.
On 17th November 2014, Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Sharkey asked Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to bring organisations which make cold calls connected with the promotion, or sale, of financial services or products under the regulation of the Financial Conduct Authority. The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I wonder if I could press the Minister again, particularly on payday loans. The recent report published by the Children’s Society, Playday not Payday, has highlighted the regulatory gap whereby payday loan companies can make unsolicited marketing calls, whereas, as we have heard, mortgage providers are not allowed to. That report showed that over 40% of people who have taken out payday loans are receiving on average more than one unsolicited phone call a day. Does the Minister not agree that the provisions that prevent the mortgage providers from making that sort of marketing approach really must now be brought in for the payday loan companies in order to protect those who are most vulnerable?
Lord Newby: The very specific arguments that apply in respect of mortgages do not apply to payday loans. The key thing about payday loans at the moment is that the payday loan companies are being regulated for the first time, which is leading to a collapse in the number of payday loan companies, so that it is expected that we may end up with as few as four payday loan companies in operation at the end of this process. However, the FCA is undertaking an in-depth thematic review of the debt management sector to assess the quality of advice and the area mentioned by the right reverend Prelate. If it finds substantial evidence of consumer detriment of the kind he suggests, it will be able to consider the scope of further regulations.
On 3rd November 2014, the Bishop of St Albans received an answer to a written question on the subject of financial advisory services.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government how the provision of money management, budgeting and debt advice by local authorities and social sector landlords is being monitored.[HL2156]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon): The Department for Work and Pensions are currently undertaking a review into how local welfare provision has been used in 2013/14 and its anticipated use in 2014/15 which will be published in due course. In addition, as part of its work on Universal Credit, the Department is commissioning budgeting support for claimants who need help and is establishing local delivery partnerships with local government to help provide this.
The Government-funded Money Advice Survey offers advice on managing personal debt, money management and budgeting. Face to face debt advice is provided by Citizens Advice, under contract with the Money Advice Service.
Department for Business Innovation and Skills also provide funding for the Citizens Advice Bureau, which provides people with advice on debt and other issues.
More generally, the Department for Communities and Local Government issued guidance to councils last year on good practice in the collection of council tax arrears. The actions of local authorities (in relation to service failures, maladministration or injustice) can be investigated by the Local Government Ombudsman, whilst the Housing Ombudsman Service looks at complaints about social landlords.
On 26th and 27th November 2013, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, took part in both sittings of the Financial Services (Banking Reform) Bill’s Report Stage.
On the first day of the Report Stage, he spoke about the need for the new ring-fencing structures to be supported by a ‘second reserve power’ which would give the regulator the power to fully separate all banks in the industry if one or more banks were gaming the new rules. He led a group of amendments on behalf of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, which would institute a rigorous licensing regime for significant bank employees who are not senior management. He also spoke about the need for specific measures to be developed to ensure that banks and their employees complied with anti-money laundering laws.
The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke twice during the second and final day of Report Stage. He spoke in support of Amendment 164, tabled by Lord Phillips of Sudbury, which would require a review to be undertaken into the current exemptions some banks and similar institutions enjoy from the Gaming Acts, on transactions which could be understood as gambling. He suggested that a review should examine what impact he current situation has on the culture in these institutions. He also led the debate on the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards’ amendment on leverage ratios. He highlighted the important role that the leverage ratio plays in the ‘tool-kit’ available to the Bank of England, and warmly welcomed the Government’s announcement that the Bank of England would undertake a review into its powers to set the leverage ratio and make recommendations on what further powers it may need.
“In the wake of the economic debacles following 2008, one of the greatest areas of concern among the public was the apparent lack of change in the financial fortunes of those whom they viewed as being most responsible for the banking crisis.”
On 23rd October 2013, the Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart, spoke during the Committee Stage of the Financial Services (Banking Reform) Bill. He spoke in support of an amendment tabled by Lord Turnbull, to require that banks and other financial institutions abide by a ‘remuneration code’, implemented and enforced by the financial regulator. The amendment, based on a recommendation by the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, was not pressed to a vote during Committee Stage.
The Lord Bishop of Birmingham: My Lords, I rise to speak on behalf of the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury. He regrets very much that he cannot be in his seat today, but it is seldom that one has the opportunity to offer Christian baptism to a young couple, particularly when their child is a future heir to the throne of this country. None the less, I know that he, like me, would want to echo the support for these amendments, which have been spoken to by the noble Lords, Lord Turnbull and Lord Eatwell. In a sense, I now regret that I am here doing my duty, because I could not have put it better myself.
In the wake of the economic debacles following 2008, one of the greatest areas of concern among the public was the apparent lack of change in the financial fortunes of those whom they viewed as being most responsible for the banking crisis. As we have heard, the salaries of senior bankers seem to remain high and bonus levels have quickly regained their old levels, while for many ordinary people and ordinary businesses across the country, it has been a matter of tightening the belt and looking very seriously at difficult household and commercial budget decisions. The submission of the Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs Council to the banking commission said of this disparity between what I am going to talk about as two cultures that it,
“has gravely harmed the public perception of banking”. Continue reading “Bishop of Birmingham supports amendment to Banking Reform Bill”