The “dog’s breakfast” that is City regulation

Mervyn King spends "more time..... talking about tennis" than about finance.

Labour peers have rounded on the government this week over its Financial Services Bill, which will overhaul the way the City is regulated.

Opposition spokesman Lord Eatwell attacked the Bill as a “dog’s breakfast” which failed the  four tests of “accountability, clarity, efficiency and transparency."

The Bill was receiving its second reading in the House of Lords yesterday. Lord Eatwell said that “instead of drafting a new template for the financial services industry” the government had constructed a “dog’s breakfast of amendments to earlier legislation”.

He promised to press for improvements to be made to the Bill, which he said was "flawed."

Former City minister Lord Myners joined the criticism, claiming Bank chief Mervyn King spent more time in board meetings talking about tennis “than about issues of financial stability”.

However, Lord Sassoon, Treasury minister, defended the Bill, saying that the current system had failed because “no one had the single responsibility to monitor the financial system”. The new legislation would put power firmly with the Bank of England, he said.

The Bill, which has completed its Commons stages, was carried over from the previous parliamentary session. It tears up the tripartite system of regulation where powers is shared between the Treasury, the Bank and the Financial Standards Authority.

Instead, a new Financial Policy Committee (FPC) within the Bank of England, will be tasked with monitoring systemic risks, while the Bill also creates a Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) as a subsidiary of the Bank of England, and a Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) covering consumer protection.

Yesterday, it was announced that the outgoing chairman of KPMG, John Griffith-Jones, has been appointed as the first non-executive chair designate of the FCA.

Helen Roxburgh is the online editor of Economia

Mervyn King, Photograph: Getty Images

Helen Roxburgh is the online editor of Economia

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Jeremy Corbyn's speech on terrorism will do him more good than harm

The Labour leader's criticism of police cuts and western foreign policy will resonate with voters.

The election campaign, if there was any doubt, has resumed. In his speech responding to the Manchester attack, Jeremy Corbyn did not limit himself to expressions of sympathy and solidarity. He squarely targeted Theresa May on her home turf: policing and security.

The Conservatives' repeated warning is that Corbyn is a "threat" to his country. But the Labour leader countered that only he could keep it "safe". Austerity, he declared, "has to stop at the A&E ward and at the police station door. We cannot be protected and cared for on the cheap." May, having been warned by the Police Federation while home secretary of the danger of cuts, is undoubtedly vulnerable on this front. Under Labour, Corbyn vowed, "there will be more police on the streets" (despite Diane Abbott's erroneous arithmetic), while the security services would receive whatever resources they need.

Corbyn swiftly progressed to foreign policy, the great passion of his political life. Though it is facile to reduce terrorism to a "blowback" against western interventionism (as if jihadists were Pavlovian dogs, rather than moral agents), it is blinkered to dismiss any connection. As Corbyn noted: "Many experts, including professionals in our intelligence and security services have pointed to the connections between wars our government has supported or fought in other countries, such as Libya, and terrorism here at home" (the Tory-led Foreign Affairs Select Committee is among those who agree).That the former Stop the War chair has long taken this view absolves him of the charge of crude political opportunism.

Corbyn was also more careful than his pre-briefed remarks suggested to caveat his criticisms. He emphasised: "Those causes certainly cannot be reduced to foreign policy decisions alone. Over the past fifteen years or so, a sub-culture of often suicidal violence has developed amongst a tiny minority of, mainly young, men, falsely drawing authority from Islamic beliefs and often nurtured in a prison system in urgent need of resources and reform.

"And no rationale based on the actions of any government can remotely excuse, or even adequately explain, outrages like this week’s massacre."

But he maintained his central charge: western intervention has made the world more dangerous, not less. "We must be brave enough to admit the war on terror is simply not working," he said. "We need a smarter way to reduce the threat from countries that nurture terrorists and generate terrorism."

Though Corbyn's arguments have appalled Conservatives (and some in Labour), they are ones that will likely find favour among the public. Polls have consistently shown that most voters oppose western adventurism and believe it has endangered the UK. Corbyn's words will resonate among both the anti-interventionist left and the isolationist right (this is, after all, a country which has just voted to retreat from even its closest neighbours).

The speech, given at 1 Great George Street (in the room where Ed Miliband gave his resignation address), was marred by Corbyn's refusal to take questions. But it was unarguably well-delivered. "Let’s have our arguments without impugning anyone’s patriotism and without diluting the unity with which we stand against terror," he warned in a pre-emptive strike against the Conservatives.

Corbyn's decision to give an overtly political speech four days after the Manchester attack is being widely described as a "gamble" or even a profound error. But the election will now rightly focus more closely on the issue of security - nothing should be beyond democratic debate.

Many of Corbyn's life-long stances, such as unilateral disarmament, do not find favour with the electorate. But there was little in his speech today that the average voter would contest. The Conservatives will hope to turn the heightened security debate to their advantage, ruthlessly quoting Corbyn against himself. But on this front, as on others, the Labour leader is proving a tougher opponent than they anticipated.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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