Nick Smith MP has said that new laws based on his suggested changes to the Financial Services and Markets Bill will help ensure that “scandals such as the British Steel pension scheme will not happen so easily again.”
Blaenau Gwent MP Nick Smith had campaigned for an amendment that would require regulators such as the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to report to Parliament, updating MPs and Lords and allowing improved scrutiny of their work.
The call stems from Mr Smith’s campaigning on behalf of steelworkers ripped off in the 2017 British Steel Pension Scheme scandal.
During this campaign, which has seen Mr Smith successfully push for action to be taken against those responsible, instigate a Public Accounts Committee hearing and National Audit Office (NAO) investigation and also help introduce a redress scheme for those targeted, Mr Smith became frustrated with the way the crisis was handled by the regulators.
Speaking in Parliament on Monday (June 26th) Mr Smith said that at the onset of the scandal “the FCA faced the City of London, not the homes of vulnerable steelworkers in Ebbw Vale, Port Talbot and Scunthorpe.”
He continued: “As parliamentarians, we found it hard to influence the dilatory regulator in support of our steelworker constituents, who deserved much better protection against the financial sharks.”
The government has amended its Bill to introduce new laws requiring statutory panels to produce annual reports, a similar amendment to one tabled by Mr Smith in December 2022.
Economic Secretary Andrew Griffiths MP said that the Treasury intended to use this power “in the first instance to direct the publication of annual reports by the CBA (Cost Benefit Analysis) panels and the FCA consumer panel. I hope the hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent will welcome this as he tabled a similar amendment.”
Mr Smith said: “I thank the Ministers in this House and the other place for this important concession. I also express gratitude to those Members from all parties in this House and the other place who supported my campaign on this matter. We are all glad that there will be a mechanism for greater parliamentary oversight of our financial services regulators.”
He added that he hoped the changes would “encourage the FCA to become more outward looking and capable of adapting to the changing needs of Britain’s consumers. I am more optimistic that there will be a different way of working; that oversight and scrutiny will be embraced; and that scandals such as the British Steel pension scheme will not happen so easily again.”
Following the debate, Mr Smith said: “After more than five years campaigning on behalf of steelworkers two things have become clear – that the FCA failed them in their hour of need and that Parliamentary scrutiny has been vital in pushing them to act.
“Getting the FCA to properly take notice of the scale of this injustice and respond accordingly has been like pulling teeth at times.
“The new laws will mean that we have better oversight of the financial regulators and their work, leaving our financial services sector all the better for it and, most importantly, better protecting Britain’s consumers.”