MPs today rejected a bill which could have stopped the FSA increasing its regulatory fees above the rate of inflation.
The Regulatory Authorities (Level of Charges) Bill was introduced by Conservative MP Christopher Chope and had its second reading in the House of Commons this morning.
It said: "No regulatory authority carrying out functions in England on behalf of a Minister of the Crown may increase, over any given period of time, the fees charged in respect of any of its services by more than the rate of inflation, measured by the Consumer Prices Index, over that given period of time."
The bill would have covered "any authority or body which regulates the carrying on of any business or activity, or the practice of any profession".
Chope gave examples of above-inflation level increases in regulatory fees by various bodies and questioned who was regulating the regulators.
He added: "It challenges the government in a time when money is tight and when we are told that family incomes will fall over the next two or three years.
"The government are imposing quite tight targets on many government departments, but would it be fair if those departments responded by increasing the fees and charges they impose on the tax-paying public by more than the rate of inflation? I do not think it would."
The private members bill was rejected by 38 votes to six, after business minister John Hayes said the government could not support it.
He added: "If the cost of provision to a regulator rises for technical reasons, and that regulator has a perfectly sensible set of regulations with the protection of public good or public safety at their heart, it would be entirely appropriate to relate the cost of that provision to its price.
"That should be legitimised and justified, and it is absolutely right that we put in place criteria that ensure that any such price increase is a true reflection of a change in cost, but to do the opposite and prohibit any change in charge regardless of a change in the cost or character of provision, as my hon. Friend suggests, would be a very blunt instrument."
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