Bank of England and Financial Services Bill [Lords]

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:21 pm on 1st February 2016.

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Photo of George Kerevan George Kerevan Scottish National Party, East Lothian 5:21 pm, 1st February 2016

I respect the logic of the hon. Gentleman’s argument. Sadly, we will never get a chance to see the legislation that he voted for in the last

Parliament put into practice and to watch it fail. I look forward to his contribution—he will have time to make it if I hurry up—and to finding out why he has changed his mind.

I am interested in Mr Bailey’s tick-box argument, which is that if we reverse the burden of proof, senior bank officials will hold endless seminars with those on the trading floor, explaining to them why doing the sort of things that happened in the LIBOR scandal is wrong. When the inevitable crisis happens, they will come with list of who they spoke to—they told the traders that this should not happen, but it did.

It is not enough to have lots of meetings; we must change the culture of the banks. It is also important to remember—I hope the Minister remembers this—the title of the Parliamentary Commission’s report on banking standards: “Changing banking for good”. There are a lot of good things in the Bill, but it does not change banking for good. It is half a loaf, and I am afraid that another half loaf will lead us more quickly to yet another banking crisis for which nobody is responsible. Ultimately, we need responsibility.

In conclusion, we are being offered a duty of responsibility versus a presumption of responsibility. Once upon a time, there was a convention: when a ship sank, the captain went down with the ship, whether it was his fault or not. It was presumed that it was his fault no matter what happened, because he was in charge of the ship. What happens these days is that the ship goes down, the captain gets into the first lifeboat, and he turns up at the inquiry to say—to use a Scottish term—“It wisnae me; I did my best”. Once upon a time Ministers also resigned when something went wrong. We should return to a situation where if there is a banking crisis the captain goes down with the ship, and we assume that he will do that, whether it was his fault or not, because he or she was in charge and leading the bank. If we do not change that culture, we will go on having banking crises ad nauseam.