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With Global Britain comes global responsibility – that’s why I want to Chair the Treasury Select Committee

4 min read

Conservative MP for Wyre Forest, former Minister Mark Garnier explains why he should be the next Chair of the Treasury Committee. 

Whoever takes over as the next chair of the Treasury Select Committee must hit the ground running – and running fast. The UK finds itself at a critical time and proper, in depth scrutiny of the effects of Brexit is crucial. My six years’ previous experience on the Treasury Committee and a couple of years on the Parliamentary Commission for Banking Standards gives me the best head start.  It is important to put that experience, and my 27 years as an investment banker and investment manager and 19 months as a trade minister, to good use.

Brexit is the defining event of our time. As we emerge from our membership of the EU, opportunities will be presented that were not available to us as EU members. But being free of the constraints of the EU means we lose that protection that can dampen economic shocks. The amplitude of our economy’s risk and reward increases. Get things right, we do brilliantly; get things wrong and we are in deeper trouble.

The Treasury Committee is best placed to take the high-level view on how we position our economy post Brexit. Testing government policy against that measure of seizing opportunity without recklessly creating risk is vital if we are to be the strong Global Britain we desire.

With Global Britain comes global responsibility. How will we fair in terms of leadership with regard global regulatory problems such as tax and profit shifting? Or banking regulation? Or regulating new technologies such as crypto currencies and FinTech?

And whilst the Trade Committee will do the heavy lifting with regard our future trade deals – including that with the EU – the Treasury Committee will have a role to play looking at our financial services exports (and imports) and what effects new trade relationships will have on our domestic economy.

Of course, we have a new domestic agenda and it is already the intention of this Government to turbo charge our economy. Northern cities will benefit from the proposals to build high speed rail links between large centres of population. But this will be of little comfort to those in the South West. Testing economic turbo chargers against a measure of regional fairness is important to ensure that the wins from investment are nationwide and proportional – and that includes all our four nations and all sectors of our society.

But Brexit must not be allowed to overwhelm the work of the committee. Tax policy is as much a driver of behaviour as it is a raiser of revenues. With heightened awareness of climate change impacts, testing wider tax policy against desires to take a lead on climate change action is important. Similarly, emerging taxation problems, such as that affecting senior NHS workers with their pensions, need to be swiftly addressed.

It is important to refer to previous work done by the committee. Investigations in 2010 and 2011 contributed to the Financial Service and Markets Act 2012, whilst the work of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards contributed to the Banking Reform Act 2013. Both these pieces of legislation have had a profound effect on both wholesale and consumer finance. But did these Acts achieve what we set out to achieve when we wrote those reports? Is our financial system genuinely safer from the contagion experienced in the financial crises? Are the regulators fit for the purpose we set them in 2012? Are consumers better or worse off?

More recently Nicky Morgan held valuable enquiries. The 2018 report Women in Financial Services is the type of report that should continue to inform broader committee briefing notes. Equality is a measure important to all select committees.

But a good chair does more than set an agenda. A good chair leads a committee that is unanimous in its collective views and helps the committee determine its own direction of travel. A good chair is defined by experience.

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