MPs seek veto powers over top regulator post

LONDON (Reuters) - MPs want veto powers over decisions to hire or fire the head of one of Britain’s top financial regulators after the exit last year of its chief executive who was considered too tough on bankers for the government.

A bus and taxi pass Big Ben on Westminster Bridge in London March 10, 2012. REUTERS/Kieran Doherty

Parliament’s Treasury Committee wants powers over the Financial Conduct Authority similar to its ability to veto the appointment or dismissal of top staff at the Office for Budget Responsibility, Britain’s official budget forecasters.

Key financial appointments such as those to oversee the FCA, Britain’s financial industry watchdog, and the Bank of England are made by Chancellor George Osborne.

Former FCA chief executive Martin Wheatley was ousted by Osborne last year. BoE deputy governor Andrew Bailey was chosen in January to replace him.

“The time has come to entrench the independence of the post of chief executive of the FCA,” Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the Treasury Select Committee said in a statement on Friday.

“On behalf of the Treasury Committee, I have tabled an amendment to the Bank of England and Financial Services Bill to give this effect.”

A similar move seeking the power of veto over the appointment and dismissal of the head of the Prudential Regulation Authority, a wing of the BoE, was rejected by parliament on Feb. 11.

That amendment was put forward by opposition MPs. By contrast, the FCA proposal was put forward by a cross-party parliamentary committee, including four MPs from Osborne’s Conservative Party.

A date for the debate on the amendment has yet to be set.

The committee also recommended it be given the same power of veto over the appointment of the head of the BoE but did not make an official proposal to that end.

Reporting by Ana Nicolaci da Costa; editing by William Schomberg