TOPICAL DEBATE Financial Stability

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 12:23 pm on 9th October 2008.

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Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms Financial Secretary (HM Treasury) (also in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) 12:23 pm, 9th October 2008

I will make a little more progress before I give way again.

In turn, that should help people and businesses to support the economy in these extraordinary times. Whenever possible, countries should work and act together to maintain stability. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor has agreed with European Union Finance Ministers to work together to rebuild confidence in the banking system. All member states have now committed to immediate steps to enhance depositor protection. My right hon. Friend will also be in Washington this weekend to discuss steps to be taken internationally, including on strengthening the system of international supervision, and the Prime Minister has agreed with other major countries on a meeting of Heads of Government to ensure that international action is taken.

It has been necessary for Government to take decisive steps to strengthen the stability of the banking system. The best solution to a firm's specific concern is, where it is available, a private sector solution. On 18 September, it was therefore announced that Lloyds TSB and HBOS were to merge following market turbulence whereby HBOS found itself in increasing financial difficulties as investors lost confidence in its ability to continue operating. To help to secure the deal quickly in the best interests of wider financial stability, the Government have changed competition rules to allow financial stability to be considered in the scrutiny of this merger. The decision on whether the merger should be referred to the Competition Commission will be taken in the normal way by the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform in the light of implications for competition and financial stability, and an affirmative resolution will be made to add the maintenance of UK financial stability to the list of public interest considerations in the Enterprise Act 2002.

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