Financial Crisis

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:36 pm on 20th January 2009.

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Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms Financial Secretary (HM Treasury) (also in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) 3:36 pm, 20th January 2009

I do not recognise the figure that the right hon. Gentleman gives, but I can tell him that the Commission has recognised that, in these exceptional circumstances, countries—including those in the euro area—may well exceed the 3 per cent. limit.

As I said, at the euro-area summit of 12 October, we took the lead with steps to stabilise the banking system. In the pre-Budget report, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor announced measures worth around £20 billion. Yesterday, he announced further measures to support the banking sector and to safeguard millions of jobs at risk from continuing difficulties in the financial system. The aim of the measures is to begin to replace the lending capacity lost by the withdrawal of foreign banks and other institutions, and to address the barriers that prevent UK banks from expanding their own lending. They are also designed to support stability in the economy, and ECOFIN has been looking at them today.

The crisis, however, is global and requires a global solution, so we are also working with partners outside Europe. The G20 summit in Washington in November set a vital precedent for international co-operation. Governments from developed and developing economies debated solutions to the crisis and they agreed on closer macro-economic co-operation and to take whatever actions are necessary to stabilise the financial system and support growth.

The G20 Finance Ministers will meet under the UK presidency in March, and the G20 leaders will meet at the London summit in April. International co-operation is of the greatest importance, and the European Union, its institutions and member states, are among our most important partners.

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