I am grateful to be called in this debate, Madam Deputy Speaker, and to follow Harriett Baldwin. I do not necessarily share her views or her assessment, but she made an illuminating contribution. Given today’s news about RBS, this is a pertinent and timely debate for the
Opposition Front-Bench team to have called, and we must take the opportunity to debunk some myths that have been allowed to penetrate into the debate so far.
First, we must point out the fact that the banking crisis was global. The Minister gave a history lecture, but perhaps conveniently the chapter he missed was the one on Lehman Brothers’ collapse in New York in September 2008, which triggered a tidal wave of chaos across most major western economies. I would argue that the action taken by the previous Labour Government was necessary; we all remember the queues outside Northern Rock and the chaos that was created, and default would have been a disaster, for not only the British economy, but for the wider global economy. Confidence would have completely collapsed in the banking sector and we would have seen a run on all major high street banks. The alternatives to Labour’s action would have been disastrous and it is not worth contemplating them. The action was costly to the public purse, but nobody—none of my constituents or those of the hon. Member for West Worcestershire—lost their savings. That is an important fact to remember, as it shows precisely why the banks that think it is back to business as usual just do not get it.
It was not only this bonuses-as-usual mentality from the banks but some of the other structural weaknesses that remain within our banking system that allowed the LIBOR and Euribor rigging attempts for which RBS, Lloyds, Barclays and Deutsche bank were fined by the regulators, to take place. It is also the mis-selling of interest rate swaps and of payment protection insurance—