Banking — Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 9:28 pm on 9th February 2011.

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Photo of Lord Maples Lord Maples Conservative 9:28 pm, 9th February 2011

My Lords, may I suggest to my noble friend that the central issue here is the rate of growth of credit, which is at the bottom of all banking crises? It does not matter what system of regulation is in place if it does not bring the rate of growth of credit back in line with the rate of growth of the economy. There has been a considerably faster rate of growth in credit. If that continues, we are going to have another banking crisis, whatever the system of regulation may be. Perhaps I may ask a specific question. One of the reasons the banks have made so much money over the past couple of years is that the Bank of England has been lending them money-money that it does not have, incidentally-at an interest rate of around 0.5 per cent. The banks have been able to lend that money on at 4, 5 and 6 per cent and thus have made a huge amount of money, out of which they are paying bonuses, presumably on the basis that it has been their clever management that has made all this money. Has my noble friend pointed out to them the value of this subsidy, and has he indeed calculated the value of this subsidy towards banks' profits? We needed to help them rebuild their balance sheets, but that was why they were being lent money cheaply by the Bank of England. They are booking that as profits, attributing it to their own clever management, and paying themselves bonuses out of it.