Regulatory and Banking Reform — Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:04 pm on 16th June 2011.

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Photo of Lord Sassoon Lord Sassoon The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury 5:04 pm, 16th June 2011

My noble friend's first question was about whether this is twin peaks, triple peaks or whatever. I have always found that a somewhat stale way to analyse the issue because over the past decade constant comparisons were being made between single peaks, twin peaks and so on, so I am reluctant to be drawn into characterising what we are now proposing as any number of peaks. All I can say is that it is emphatically not a triple-peak solution in that the macroprudential and the micro in the PRA are going to be in one body in the Bank of England. So although characterising it as twin peaks is closer to the models that have been analysed by academics and others over the last few years, it gets us back to language that I am not sure is entirely helpful. However, it is certainly not a triple-peak solution.

On the questions around separation and permeability of the ring-fence, the Government will be guided by the independent commission's final report. But it is also important to recognise what the ICB's interim report did and did not say. To put it simply, it certainly was not a division between retail and investment banking. The commission acknowledged that a balance has to be struck between imposing very high costs on an important sector and the degree of safety. The point of firewalling is not to eliminate all risk, but to minimise the risk and cost to the taxpayer should a bank fail. The ICB is now focused on these issues between now and September. The principal issues to be looked at by the Government and the Bank of England will be the powers to manage the collapse of any investment bank, were that to happen in the future. As I hope was clear from my honourable friend's Statement, one of the principles in establishing the ring-fence is to make sure that the taxpayer is not exposed on either side of it. Therefore, getting rid of the risk of moral hazard is at the centre of the construct that we are looking to put in place.