§ The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Ruth Kelly)
I am today publishing a Green Paper, The Financial System and Major Operational Disruption. Copies are available in the Vote Office and in the libraries of both Houses. The document is available online at the Treasury website:www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/. The 11 September attacks on the United States caused terrible loss of life and physical damage. They also showed the problems that physical disruption on such a scale brings for the financial system—as exemplified by the four-day closure of the New York Stock Exchange.12WS
Financial services play a vital role in the UK economy. This makes it particularly important to be sure that we have good arrangements to maintain the financial system's resilience during major operational disruption. While the main responsibility lies with the financial sector itself, HM Treasury, the Bank of England and the Financial Services Authority are working together, and with the private sector, to help strengthen resilience.
This consultation asks if new statutory powers should be sought to assist in promoting order in the financial system in extreme circumstances of operational disruption. The Government are seeking views on whether such legislation would be justified by the nature and scale of the threat. The consultation also requests comments about additional ways in which the financil authorities could usefully assist the private sector's work in making financial markets more resilient.
The consultation closes on 25 April. If the Government considers it appropriate to seek legislation, further consultation would follow.