Northern Rock

Part of Opposition Day — [4th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 4:29 pm on 12th December 2007.

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Photo of Vincent Cable Vincent Cable Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, Acting Leader, Liberal Democrats 4:29 pm, 12th December 2007

I believe that that was indeed the case.

The optimism that I described rests upon the fact that the assets of the bank primarily consist of mortgages, many of which were obtained at the peak of the housing market in the earlier part of this year. There was an extraordinary explosion of growth in the Northern Rock bank—it grew by about 55 per cent. and took 20 per cent. of the market in the earlier part of this year. That growth was not backed up by deposits, and it accounted for the fact that the bank had to borrow heavily in the wholesale market, which then seized up. As I told the House a few weeks ago, it was possible then to go to the Northern Rock bank and obtain a mortgage of about 125 per cent. of the value of a property, and of four to five times a person's income. That was the sort of frenzied borrowing that took place at the peak of the market. I checked yesterday, and those loans are still on offer. This is a supposedly responsible lender in the middle of a banking crisis, dependent on loans from the Government.