None of us likes to read about bank write-offs on that scale, and we all recognise that some very poor professional judgment has been exercised. But I would say to the hon. Gentleman that it was no good the Prime Minister feigning shock and horror yesterday at the fact that British banks have been making loans to Johnny Foreigner. He was happy enough to claim the credit for London's role as a global banking centre. Well, what does a global banking centre mean if it does not mean the lending of money across borders? He should not have been surprised, and I do not believe that he was surprised to discover that British banks have engaged in extensive international lending.
The UK Government cannot subcontract responsibility for the regulation of Britain's biggest industry. To take the hon. Gentleman's point, it is the UK taxpayer, not the EU, who picks up the bill if things go wrong, and the Government need to set out clearly the limits of any EU-based system of financial markets regulation. The Minister cannot afford to assume that the first priority of everybody in the European Union when they wake up in the morning is ensuring the continued dominance of London in the EU's financial market arrangements.
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