Posts Tagged ‘House of Lords’


In which I am grumpy and middle aged about the government’s ability to manage the consultation process

January 28, 2013

Anything happening?

Have the Treasury updated the tax tracker since December 7th?

Erm… that’d be a “no“.

Has the government decided to follow the advice of the House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee and appoint someone like the NAO to undertake an urgent review of their changes to consultation policy?

Erm… that’d be the people who accused them of “sneaking” their consultations out just before long holidays?  Unlikely.

If they DO decide to review the changes, are they planning on meeting the House of Lords suggested deadline of reporting by Easter?

“We believe that the process needs to be reviewed urgently.  We are calling for the review to be done by an independent organisation such as the National Audit Office, and for the outcome of the review to be published by Easter.”

Erm… given it’s practically the end of January now and Easter is in, what, 61 days (and that’s calendar days, not working days) I leave that question for discussion.  Please use one side of the paper only, and be careful to show your workings in full.


Where’s Wally?

January 21, 2013

OK then, Christmas well and truly over, New Year thoroughly bedded in, off with the onesies and on with the back-to-work trousers; what’s happening in the wonderful world of tax consultations?

Well, erm, I’m not really sure.  The Treasury’s tax tracker page is a mess, with a heading “Tax consultation tracker (2012)” above a link that looks as if it’s going to be a link to the tracker but actually leads to a previous version of the same web page: Tax updates and consultations tracker 2011

The last actual tax tracker I can find is the one published on 7 December last year (here’s the link) and it shows, erm, none.  Well, none that are actually open, that is.

The HMRC “current consultations” page is a bit better – if you can find it, that is (go to the HMRC main page, search for “consultations” and then scroll down till you find the link that says “current consultations” – under the heading “Details of consultations launched since May 2010 can be found in the following sections”.

(There are two, but they both close in March so we’ll come back to them later)

The Treasury site, actually, is a bit easier to navigate if you were coming at it from no knowledge except a desire to see what consultations were out there.  Go to their front page and there’s a link in the sidebar on the left to “consultations and legislation

So nothing much doing, you might think?

Well, erm… you’d be wrong.  Because the according to this Written Ministerial Statement  the entire 2013 Finance Bill is up for technical consultation until February 6th.  Not “is this a good idea” consultation, you understand, just a “does this work the way we think it does, and by the way can you spot any typos we’ve missed” consultation.  Not that anyone who doesn’t take a policy-wonk interest in the Finance Bill consultation is likely to have the proverbial snowflake’s chance of finding it, however!

Speaking of which… did anyone happen to notice the House of Lords’ Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee issued their report and recommendations after their oral evidence session with Oliver Letwin?  And, oh look at paragraph 11 where they urge the government

to introduce, as soon as possible, a single website listing open consultations in the order in which they close (paragraph 54).

And, oh go on, look at paragraph 54.  Which says

54. Wendy Bradley noted that there is no central source of information on what consultations are scheduled, open or coming to an end: “in the 21st century it should be possible for the government to have a single website listing its open consultations in the order in which they close. This would, for example, enable someone going on holiday for a fortnight to be assured that an issue vital to them wasn’t going to be decided in their absence.” We consider that this would be a significant contribution to improving the overall efficiency of the consultation process, and we urge the Government to introduce such a website as soon as possible. It would also provide a useful to tool to Departments to enable them better to co-ordinate consultations on similar subjects.

[Pause for a quiet rendition of the “told you so” dance]


FSA: show me the money

June 28, 2012

So there was a tweet going the rounds this morning which said that the £59.5 million of fines which Barclays are going to pay for attempting to manipulate the LIBOR and EURIBOR rates of interest will go direct to the FSA… and reduce the fees which banks pay to the FSA for being regulated!

Let’s have a quick look.  The FSA website explains they are independent, receive no government funding, and charge fees to those they regulate and, yes, if you look at the paragraph “Who Pays for the FSA” you will see what they do with any fines they receive.

When financial penalties are imposed on firms or individuals, the proceeds are used to reduce fees in the following financial year.

So no worries, boys!  Be naughty this year, you’ll pay us less the next!  Champagne cocktails all round.

However there is this:

The FSA will be replaced by the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority in 2013. The Financial Services Bill currently undergoing parliamentary scrutiny is expected to receive Royal Assent by the end of 2012.

Yes, the FSA is going to be wound up.  At the moment, according to their annual report and accounts, they already have funding in place to cover the transitional costs of the transfer of responsibilities to the new Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority that will take over their function.  So what becomes of the £59 million?

Well, under Schedule 21 Part 1 Para 2 of the Financial Services Bill (HL Bill 25) which seems to be working its way through the House of Lords at present it looks to me as if the FSA has to sort it out with the Bank of England and the Treasury:

Transfer schemes

2(1)The FSA must make one or more schemes under this paragraph for the
transfer of property, rights and liabilities of the FSA—

(a)to the PRA or the Bank,

(b)to the PRA and the Bank, to be held jointly, or

(c)to the FSA and either the PRA or the Bank or both, to be held jointly.

(2)A scheme under this paragraph made by the FSA is not to be capable of
coming into force unless it is approved by the Treasury.

(3)The FSA may not submit a scheme under this paragraph to the Treasury for
their approval without the consent of the Bank.

So perhaps one of the Noble Lords might like to check that our £59.5 million – as well as any other fines that might accrue from any other ramifications of what looks set to be a fair old scandal – go back to us, the taxpayers, rather than indirectly benefiting the people whose offences caused the fine.

If you want to ask a Noble Lord to do so, go to this list of members and pick one – they don’t have constituencies like MPs, so you’re entitled to ask any of them.  I picked the one with my surname (no relation!) but you might someone you’ve heard of who might have an interest, or simply pick one at random.  And then ask them to take an interest.  I want our money back!


World’s shortest campaign (or maybe “great minds think alike” – no) but George Osborne picked up the same thing in his speech on Barclays today.

Here’s what he said:

Under the previous government’s regime fines paid to the FSA are used to reduce the annual levy other financial institutions are asked to pay.

I am far from convinced that in all cases, this is the best use of the money.

We are considering amendments to the Financial Services Bill that ensure that fines of this nature go to help the taxpaying public, not the financial industry.

I have also asked my officials to urgently investigate whether this legislation could be applied to the fine imposed on Barclays Bank.

Well well – evidence that even politicians are capable of going “that’s really stupid – let’s not”.