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Critical Benchmarks (References and Administrators’ Liability) Bill [HL]

Volume 815: debated on Tuesday 2 November 2021

Third Reading


Moved by

My Lords, I would like to make a few short remarks. The Bill builds on the Financial Services Act 2021, which gave the FCA powers to oversee the orderly wind-down of a critical benchmark, such as Libor. In particular, it allows the FCA to ensure the continued publication of a benchmark, using a synthetic methodology. The Bill plays a vital role in supporting a smooth and orderly wind-down of the Libor benchmark, by providing legal certainty for contracts that rely on Libor beyond the end of this year, and a narrow immunity for the administrator of Libor, where it is publishing synthetic Libor as required by the FCA.

It has been a privilege to have engaged in these discussions. I thank noble Lords for their rigorous examination of this highly technical Bill, both in formal debate and in the various technical briefing sessions that I have held. I am confident that the Bill has been thoroughly examined by the House. All those involved have brought significant experience and insight to this process.

I am particularly grateful to my noble friends Lady Noakes and Lord Blackwell for raising this important issue during the passage of the Financial Services Act earlier this year. Once again I put on record my thanks for their work on this matter.

In our discussions, we have covered the issue of the FCA’s methodology for the synthetic rate. We have considered the importance of legal certainty, which the Bill delivers, and we have highlighted the work that the FCA is doing on the wider Libor transition. This includes its work to ensure that synthetic methodology is fair and aligned with the global consensus.

We have talked about the work that the FCA has been doing alongside the Bank of England and the industry-led risk-free rate working group. This will support and encourage a voluntary transition away from Libor prior to the end of this year wherever possible—an effort which has been successful in significantly reducing the number of contracts that will need to rely on the synthetic rate both here in the UK and globally. Throughout, your Lordships have had a particular interest in protecting consumers and maintaining the integrity of UK financial markets.

As we have discussed, the UK has one of the most open, innovative and dynamic financial services sectors in the world. As the home of Libor, we have a unique and crucial role to play in minimising global financial stability risks and disruption to financial systems from the wind-down of Libor. The Bill forms part of a significant programme of work by the Government and the regulators to support the global market-led transition away from Libor. It supports the integrity of financial markets and consumer protection. In doing so, it underlines our reputation as a custodian of a global financial centre.

I conclude these brief remarks by thanking the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, his officials, and the clerks in the Public Bill Office, who have worked so diligently to support the passage of this Bill. I also thank FCA officials for the technical briefings that they have provided. I beg to move.

My Lords, as I was so kindly namechecked by my noble friend, I will just say that I thank the Government very much for responding to the real concerns expressed by the financial services industry in respect of tough legacy Libor contracts. The Bill does not deliver everything that the industry wanted but it delivers a great deal, and I am very grateful to the Government.

Bill passed and sent to the Commons.