HM Treasury has begun a consultation on draft Regulations concerning information disclosure and publication provisions relating to the Bank of England (the Bank) under Part 5 of the Banking Act 2009 (the Act).
Section 204(1) of the Act confers a power on the Bank to obtain information for specified purposes in connection with its functions under Part 5 of the Act (this includes assisting the Treasury in determining whether to specify a system as a recognised system under section 184 of the Act).
Section 204 of the Act also:
- Allows the Bank to disclose information obtained under section 204(1) to certain public authorities.
- Allows the Bank to publish information obtained under section 204(1).
- Confers on the Treasury the power to make Regulations permitting the disclosure of information obtained under section 204(1) to other persons and specifying the manner and extent of the publication of such information.
Under Part 5 of the Act the Bank is currently unable to share information it has obtained under section 204(1) for other purposes such as criminal and civil investigations and proceedings initiated by UK public authorities other than those specified in section 204(4).
HM Treasury proposes to make Regulations under section 204(6) to extend the Bank’s power of disclosure to specified persons and in specified cases. The draft Regulations are entitled The Banking Act 2009 (Inter-Bank Payment Systems) (Disclosure and Publication of Specified Information) Regulations 2010.
The draft Regulations allow the Bank to disclose information:
- To public authorities for the purposes of, or in connection with, criminal investigations and proceedings which can be brought in the UK.
- To public authorities for the purposes of, or in connection with, investigations and proceedings which could result in the imposition of civil penalties and can be brought in the UK (such as regulatory investigations).
- To specified public authorities for the purposes of enabling or assisting them to discharge specified functions (including the Takeover Panel, the Office of Fair Trading and the European Commission).
- To any person where the information has already entered the public domain.
To any person where:
- the person from whom the Bank has obtained the information and, if different, the person to whom the information relates has consented; or
- the information is in the form of a summary or collection of information such that information relating to a particular person cannot be identified.
The draft Regulations also make provision in respect of the manner and extent of publication under section 204(7). It also provides that where information relates to persons regulated or overseen by the FSA the Bank must first consult with the FSA before publishing that information.
The deadline for comments is 19 February 2010.