EU Council

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Communities and Local Government – in the House of Commons at 3:32 pm on 2nd July 2012.

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Photo of David Cameron David Cameron The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party 3:32 pm, 2nd July 2012

First, we must recognise that, in the short term, the priority for Europe is to deal with the instability and chaos. Secondly, over time, we must take the opportunities for Britain to shape its relationship with Europe in ways that advance our national interest in free trade, open markets and co-operation. As I argued yesterday, that should mean less Europe not more Europe, less cost, less bureaucracy, and less meddling in the issues that belong to nation states. Thirdly, all party leaders will have to address the question. It follows from my argument that, far from ruling out a referendum for the future, as a fresh deal in Europe becomes clear, we should consider how best to get the fresh consent of the British people.

Finally, as I have said, as the eurozone moves towards a banking union, we must ensure that Britain takes responsibility for sorting out its own banking sector. On the unfolding banking scandal here in the UK, we need to take action right across the board, including introducing the toughest and most transparent rules on pay and bonuses of any major financial centre in the world, increasing the taxes that banks must pay, ensuring tough civil and criminal penalties for those who break the law and, above all, clearing up the regulatory failure left by the last Labour Government.

The British people want to see two things: they want to see bankers who acted improperly punished; and they want to know we will learn the broader lessons of what happened in this particular scandal. On the first, the Serious Fraud Office is looking at whether any criminal prosecutions can be brought, and at whether the full force of the law is being used in dealing with this. On the second, I want us to establish a full parliamentary committee of inquiry involving both Houses, chaired by the Chairman of the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee. This committee will be able to take evidence under oath; it will have full access to papers, officials and Ministers, including Ministers and special advisers from the last Government; and it will be given by the Government all the resources it needs to do its job properly.

The Chancellor will be making a full statement, but this is the right approach, because it will be able to start immediately, it will be accountable to this House and it will get to the truth quickly, so we can make sure this never happens again. I commend this statement to the House.