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Financial Institutions

Volume 476: debated on Monday 19 May 2008

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which financial bodies which are regulated by the Bank of England have not disclosed fully their exposure to the sub-prime market failings as they affect the UK market. (201915)

The Bank of England does not regulate banks. The Financial Services Authority supervises financial services activities in the UK under the powers granted to it in the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.

It is the responsibility of banks to publish annual reports that provide a true and fair view of their financial position. For listed companies, the accounting treatment for measurement and disclosure of losses in companies' annual reports, including any in relation to exposure to sub-prime, is governed by the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) issued by the International Accounting Standards Board and adopted by the EU. Most UK banks have 31 December year-ends and will have included in their annual reports for 2007 their losses as at 31 December 2007. Under IFRS, there is no specific obligation for companies to disclose separately any losses from exposure to the sub-prime market, though many banks did provide such additional disclosures in their 2007 annual reports, reflecting the materiality of the disclosures.

Any company which has its shares listed on the London Stock Exchange also has a continuing obligation to provide adequate information to the market in a timely manner in order that investors can make informed decisions. Similar arrangements apply to companies with securities trading on other regulated exchanges. With the deterioration in market conditions in relation to sub-prime since 31 December 2007, in particular in March 2008, banks, where they consider it relevant, have disclosed additional losses they have incurred in 2008 in relation to their sub-prime exposure, in accordance with these requirements.