The main business in the House of Commons Chamber today will be two debates decided on by the Backbench Business Committee. I am a member of this Committee and it is made up of 4 Conservative MP’s and three Opposition – two Labour and one from the Scottish Nationalist Party. Under the Standing Orders of the Chairman must always come from the main Opposition so one of the two labour MP’s is the Chairman.
The Committee hears submissions from Backbench MP’s requesting debates on particular subjects. The Government then allocate some Chamber time to the Backbench Business Committee for these debates to be held. The Committee is also given some time to allocate in the other debating chamber known as Westminster Hall. In reality this is the Grand Committee Room which is just off the Westminster Hall. The two debates today on the proposed sale of shares in the Royal Bank of Scotland and on the trade in dog meat were both scheduled as a result of bids from backbench MP’s.
I will be chairing a Delegated Legislation committee later today which will be considering the draft Small and Medium Sized Business (Credit Information) Regulations 2015 and the draft Small and Medium Sized Business (Finance Platforms) Regulations 2015. A review by the Office of Fair Trading and others highlighted a lack of information about the creditworthiness of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) as a potential barrier to competition in the SME banking market and SME lending in particular. The purpose of the draft Regulations is to address that problem.
The Small and Medium Sized Business (Credit Information) Regulations 2015 require designated banks to share information on their SME customers with designated Credit Reference Agencies (CRAs). They also require that those designated CRAs, provide equal access to that data to finance providers.
The Small and Medium Sized Business (Finance Platforms) Regulations 2015 place an obligation on designated banks to refer SME customers that they reject for finance, with the SME’s permission, to finance platforms that can match the SME with alternative finance providers and they give the Treasury the power to designate which banks and platforms the regulations will apply to.