Britain's bankers to face annual checks under draft laws

LONDON Wed Nov 27, 2013 12:41am GMT

The Canary Wharf financial district is seen in east London February 28, 2013. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

The Canary Wharf financial district is seen in east London February 28, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Stefan Wermuth

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LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's senior bankers will face an annual competency check under new laws being drawn up in parliament to reform the British banking sector and protect it against future crises.

A proposal for a new licensing regime, put forward by the opposition Labour party, unexpectedly won the support of peers in the upper house of British parliament by a narrow margin of five votes on Tuesday. The government voted against the proposal.

As a result, laws to toughen up professional standards in banking could now include an annual assessment of an individual against "minimum thresholds of competence" and a recognised code of conduct.

The government said the change would not noticeably improve standards and would add to banks' regulatory burden. Chancellor George Osborne could yet try to overturn the proposal before it becomes law.

The defeat for the government comes after it conceded ground on another contentious part of the new banking laws earlier in the day by asking the Bank of England to decide whether it needs more powers to control bank risk-taking.

(Reporting by William James in London; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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