Financial Services Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:41 pm on 30th November 2009.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of George Osborne George Osborne Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer 6:41 pm, 30th November 2009

The hon. Lady was right first time-I am an hon. Gentleman, not a right hon. Gentleman.

I am not claiming that the Bank of England got it right; I have said so in private at the Bank as well as in public. However, it did warn-not often enough, not loud enough, and certainly not much listened to by anyone-that, for example, the housing boom was developing at a pace that was beginning to alarm it.

Let me explain why I think that a change in the structure of regulation, as well as its content, would help. After everything that we have been through, it is pretty remarkable that the Government are not asking some big fundamental questions about the structure of regulation that they set up. Almost every other country in the world is proposing considerable changes to its regulatory structure. As far as I am aware, only in this country, of all the major economies that had a banking crisis, are the Government content to stick with the existing system. Of course, we know exactly why that is. Everyone knows that if Labour Members were in opposition or were not currently led by the man who was Chancellor when the system was introduced, they too would be looking at changes to the structure of regulation. They are wedded to defending the current system because it happened to be introduced by the man who leads them. The proposal was developed, completely in secret, in opposition. It was, I believe, kept in a safe in the hotel bedroom of Mr. Robinson, and deployed, without any warning, two or three days after the general election. The then Governor of the Bank of England, the late Eddie George, almost resigned as a result. There was then a hasty consultation and the measure was introduced. We are now stuck with the Government defending this system for the simple reason that the Prime Minister thinks that there will be some reputational damage to him if he admits that it has not worked very well. I have to tell him that the reputational damage has already been done.

Embed this video

Copy and paste this code on your website