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Bill Cash MP
for Stone

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Bill Cash MP speaks out against EU financial regulation proposals

 Press release 02/12/09

 
Yesterday evening, in the debate on the European financial services proposals, Bill Cash MP spoke out against the regulations, as he rejected proposals for establishing a European Systemic Risk Board, a European Banking Authority, a European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority, a European Securities and Markets Authority, with all their respective powers, and the regulation on Community macro-prudential oversight of the financial system, and furthermore, rejected the Government’s approach “to setting up a new financial supervisory structure in the EU.”
 
Cash said:
 
“The United Kingdom will no longer be able to insist upon retaining its own control over financial services and banking in the City of London and across the country. The Westminster Parliament will be obliged to accept the legislation which includes the overarching legal architecture and final jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. The French, the Germans and President Barroso have achieved their objectives while Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling have sold the United Kingdom down the river.”
 
During the debate, Bill Cash made the following interventions:
 
Mr. William Cash (Stone) (Con): As I am a member of the ESC, I am sure the Minister will understand my wishing to draw attention to the fact that in our most recent report we have, effectively, condemned the idea that we should rush forward with these proposals. There are many good reasons for that, which are set out in our report. Furthermore, does the Minister accept the following point, which I have repeatedly made to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer-this is, effectively, a sell-out to the process of majority voting, and it will do immense damage to the City of London, which accounts for an enormous percentage of our GDP? Does she also agree that there is no justification for the speed with which this is being done, or for handing over the whole of this ramshackle structure to the European Court of Justice?
 
Sarah McCarthy-Fry: The hon. Gentleman will not be surprised to learn that I disagree with him on this and that I think it is important that we have a European harmonisation of regulation. That was agreed at not only the European level, but the global level. I think we would all agree that we are looking for a harmonisation of regulation at a global level, and the EU process can move forward on that.
 
 
Mr. Cash: The Minister speaks about red lines. Will she exercise a veto when the whole matter is going to be decided by a majority vote?
 
Sarah McCarthy-Fry: This is a package of five legislative proposals. The hon. Gentleman is quite right that four of them are down to qualified majority voting, but one of the items in the package is subject to unanimity. We are going into the negotiations with our red lines and I am sure that the Chancellor will stick to them. Within the negotiations, I am sure that we will get not only what is good for the UK, but what is good for the EU.
Mr. Cash: Does the Minister note that one of the questions that we put was whether, in the context of the architecture to which I referred earlier, the Government are satisfied not only with regard to the voting issue, but with regard to the relationship of the European Court of Justice to these bodies? That is crucial, because it is at that point that the question of the exercise of real power is determined. Can the Minister answer that question, please?
Sarah McCarthy-Fry: I can only refer the hon. Gentleman back to my previous answer, which was that we have concerns about the legislative proposals, where the Commission appears to be taking over the role of the courts, because the judgment as to whether member states are following European law must be a matter for the European courts.
We are putting in place a new framework to improve the quality and consistency of supervision and regulation. Such a framework will better protect consumers, help prevent financial crisis and improve efficiency for firms. I look forward to hearing the contributions of hon. Members in the debate.
4.49 pm
Mr. Cash: My hon. Friend knows that I have the gravest concerns about all this. Does he appreciate that although the trade associations-I mentioned the Association of British Insurers, the British Bankers Association and the Investment Management Association -have effectively endorsed the idea of this supranational authority, there is also a political dimension, because whereas they may have a multinational view about these matters in the global context, in terms of the City of London a political judgment has to be struck? That is why I personally take the view that we ought to resist this all the way down the line. As my hon. Friend the Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Field) said, people in the trade associations take a globalised view based on multinationalism, whereas when one deals with people in individual firms on the ground, one finds that they frequently take a very different view. Does my hon. Friend have any comment to make on that?
Mr. Hoban: My experience in this role over the past four years is that there is a wide divergence of views in the City about the role that Europe should play in the regulation of financial services. Several trade associations take the view that there should be a harmonised rule book, for example, but they are also concerned about the pace at which the reforms are progressing and whether a proper process is in place. We have seen that in the way in which the alternative investment fund managers directive has been dealt with. The devil is always in the detail. We need proper scrutiny of these proposals, and people need carefully to think through their impact. The problem is that when others seek to use their political agenda to shape regulation in Europe, it is sometimes to the detriment of our own sector based here in London.
Mr. Cash: My hon. Friend raises an extremely important point relating to competing sovereignties. The European Court asserts its primacy over not only our laws but our constitution. I am glad to say that the leader of our party has affirmed that there will be a sovereignty Bill to deal with some of those questions. Does my hon. Friend agree that where there are such competing sovereignties, and it is in our national interests to do so, as it is in the case before us, it is essential that, if we come to power, we justify and carry through the leader of our party's commitment to the repatriation of legislation to ensure our economic competitiveness, using our sovereignty Bill?
Mr. Hoban: I suspect that my hon. Friend is pushing me to go further than I am inclined to go at this point, but I want to explore the legal argument, because there is an issue to do with the basis of the powers. I know that he is an expert on the subject, so he may want to contribute to the debate on that point later….
Mr. Cash: I agree with my hon. Friend's analysis, but the danger is that, because of mission creep, there will be increasing control-the practitioners instinctively feel that that is coming. Those who are promoting this whole superstructure, including the Government and Lord Myners himself, would hand over the City of London, lock, stock and barrel to a supervisory authority that will insist that it has its way. That is the problem and it is completely contrary to proper market conditions. That is where the problem lies for the City, and it will end up in competition with New York instead of working across the Atlantic as we should do.
Mr. Hoban: My hon. Friend makes an important point about mission creep when it comes to these authorities, and he has been very critical of trade associations so far. However, the Association for Financial Markets in Europe has identified that as a potential issue. It is concerned that ESAs will go beyond technical issues and stray into policy. …
Mr. Cash: Does the hon. Gentleman agree that it is totally crass for the Government to hand over the running of financial services to the EU, and then to saddle themselves with the responsibility for bailing people out when things go wrong? How stupid can you get?
Mr. Browne: I am not aware that anyone in this debate has proposed that course of action-
Mr. Cash: It is what this is all about.
Mr. Browne: The hon. Gentleman says, from a sedentary position, that that is what this motion is all about, but the nub of the debate is whether that is the case. I shall deal with that in a moment, but we all acknowledge that these enormous financial institutions have tentacles that reach into many different markets. That is why it is appropriate for us to ask ourselves whether the regulatory regime that monitors them should have a similar scope, and a dimension to its activities that reflects the scale and nature of the organisations being regulated.
Because we have the most advanced financial services sector in Europe and are the dominant players in the market, the proposals before us today could have some benefits for the UK. A market whose general regulation applies the same rules to all European countries could present opportunities for us to achieve greater profitability and wider expansion, as long as there is no improper restriction of our financial services sector. That is important, because regulation must not restrict legitimate competition….
Mr. Cash: The hon. Gentleman betrays a remarkable lack of knowledge about the extent to which the French in particular and the Germans, who are also going for the European bank, have set their hearts, minds and political will on doing as much as possible to ensure that the City of London does not survive as the main centre in Europe. The hon. Gentleman is completely and totally off the wall.
Mr. Browne: I do not know if I am grateful for that intervention. When I spoke about paranoia about the European Union, I did not necessarily have the hon. Gentleman in mind, although he may have identified with that feeling. There are many good reasons why London should be the financial services capital of Europe, as it offers entrepreneurial dynamism and labour market flexibility, and the fact that we speak English helps….
Mr. Cash: Does my hon. Friend agree that the European Commission, being the ultimate bureaucratic executive and the responsible body-these regulations are about regulatory arrangements and are the highest of legal instruments that must be implemented by member states-is acting in a manner that will inevitably lead to a non-competitive environment, because the Commission itself is basically undemocratic? It is bureaucratic, and all the fears that my hon. Friend has expressed will come about because of the failure of the culture within the European Union to understand that that is the basis on which the Commission operates, and it should not be allowed to do so. The Government are seriously in error and should be condemned for allowing such a situation to come about.
Mr. Fallon: My hon. Friend makes his point, again, extremely powerfully….
The House having divided: Ayes 256, Noes 188.

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