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Banking (Special Provisions) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:15 pm on 21st February 2008.

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Photo of Lord Davies of Oldham Lord Davies of Oldham Deputy Chief Whip (House of Lords), HM Household, Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard (HM Household) (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Lords) 1:15 pm, 21st February 2008

If the noble Lord will show a little more patience, I shall flesh out the process of parliamentary scrutiny of the work of Northern Rock. We are committed to regular reporting to Parliament and will continue to do that in the next stage of development. We are already discussing with Ron Sandler and the new board the arrangements for this scrutiny. Of course there is a balance to be struck. The noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, with his considerable experience in government, will recognise that. On the one hand, given the large sums of public support for the company, it is obviously right that Parliament should be kept informed of progress, but that needs to be balanced with appropriate limits to the disclosure of commercially sensitive information. We are talking about a business, not any other kind of body.

We must all be agreed that the best way of ensuring that a company repays public support and returns to normal private sector operations at the earliest opportunity is to run the company at arm's length from the Government in as close as possible to normal commercial conditions. I can confirm that under public ownership Northern Rock will be regulated by the Financial Services Authority. The noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, already indicated that he expected that fairly sharp insight into and scrutiny of the work of Northern Rock by the FSA.