Committee (3rd Day) (Continued)

Part of Financial Services Bill – in the House of Lords at 6:00 pm on 10th July 2012.

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Photo of Lord Myners Lord Myners Labour 6:00 pm, 10th July 2012

My Lords, I take note of my noble friend's comments, but I feel compelled to say a few words in response. Without drawing the ire of the Minister, I can link it back to the subject of the amendment.

I worked with Mr Tucker, the deputy governor, during the banking crisis. We should wait for the outcome of the Treasury Select Committee's report and the Joint Committee report. It is wrong to say that if the manipulation of the LIBOR-setting process had not occurred we would not have had the global financial crisis. It was undoubtedly bad and reprehensible, in the words of Mr Diamond, but it did not itself cause the crisis. Listening to Mr Tucker yesterday and reflecting back on the extraordinary circumstances of October 2007, I sympathised with him. The banking system was on the verge of complete collapse. It is still not fully appreciated how close we came to the edge of the cliff. In those circumstances, when one seemed constantly to be in meetings and constantly to be on the telephone, not taking notes of meetings is pretty forgivable. I was delighted that Mr Tucker was able to settle the issues arising from Mr Diamond's file note about the senior Whitehall figures. I look forward to the Chancellor of the Exchequer responding to the clarity that Mr Tucker has brought there.

Reflecting on my noble friend's amendment, I ask whether we are creating positions in the Bank of England and in the architecture which are simply beyond the talents of any one person to fulfil? Mr Tucker is one of the outstanding candidates to be the next governor. He is not the only one, but it is not a long list and it has got decidedly shorter in the past seven days. Two people previously spoken about as candidates, Mr Varley and the noble Lord, Lord Green, have probably dropped off in the past few days, so it is not a strong list.

Looking then at the FPC and its oversight, where are going to find the people with the necessary talents to do this job? We are on the horns of a dilemma. On the one hand, you want knowledgeable people-people who do not have to be taken through everything step by step, but come to the issues with a good and clear knowledge and the ability to spot where the critical questions lie. On the other hand, you do not want to start these committees with people who in some way are conflicted by their current employment, their past employment, their pension arrangements and so forth.

I do not have a view about whether the shadow FPC is doing a good job. I think one or two of its members appear to be. Mr Robert Jenkins, in particular, appears to be an independent spirit who is not in any way caught up in the groupthink and consensus that I associate with much of the heart of the Bank. The simple fact is that most members of the FPC have a career background in investment banking. They have a career background in the very activity which was associated with the global financial crisis. I think we have a problem here. How do we get the right people into the right committees and the right courts and the offices of governor and deputy governor? No architecture makes sense if we are creating it on the presumption that we can find people of integrity, raw talent and understanding to fill the jobs when that is not a realistic assumption. I think the heart of the matter raised by my noble friend in his amendment is: how can we be satisfied that the people sitting on the FPC are appropriately competent and are managing conflicts of interests, as they probably will always have conflicts as a prerequisite for qualification to sit on these various committees?