[Mr Clive Betts in the Chair] — Bradford & Bingley plc

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:15 am on 27th November 2013.

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Photo of Sajid Javid Sajid Javid The Financial Secretary to the Treasury 10:15 am, 27th November 2013

I welcome you to the Chair, Mr Betts. It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship.

I thank my hon. Friend Philip Davies for securing the debate and for his continued commitment and effort in tirelessly pursuing the issue on behalf of his constituents. I have not been long in Parliament, but one thing I noted right from the start, which has been reaffirmed today, is that few colleagues so assiduously pursue their constituents’ causes as my hon. Friend. He is an example to us all. I also thank my hon. Friend Craig Whittaker for his tireless work on behalf of his constituents, as we have seen today.

Before I get into the specifics of Bradford & Bingley, I will give some context on the time, the policies that we have heard reference to today, which contributed to the banking crisis, and this Government’s response, which hon. Members have spoken about during the debate.

The nationalisation of Bradford & Bingley was one of the key outcomes of the financial crisis. The crisis was the biggest failure of economic management and banking regulation in this country’s history. Let me remind hon. Members of the events preceding the crisis. Over the decade before the crash, Britain experienced the biggest increase in debt of any major economy in the world. The total of household, corporate, financial and public sector debt reached a staggering 500% of GDP. UK banks became the most leveraged in the world.

None of that, however, caused concern or invited intervention under the failed tripartite system of regulation created 16 years ago. The Bank of England was stripped of its historical responsibility for regulating the banking system, which was given to a new Financial Services Authority. Let me quote a warning from 16 years ago by the then shadow Chancellor, my right hon. Friend Mr Lilley. During the passage of the Bank of England Act 1998, which created the failed tripartite system, he said:

“The process of setting up the FSA may cause regulators to take their eye off the ball, while spivs and crooks have a field day.”—[Hansard, 11 November 1997; Vol. 300, c. 732.]

Sixteen years later, the consensus is clear. There were fundamental flaws in the tripartite system right from the start, which are today painfully apparent to the whole world.

I respect the comments of the shadow Treasury Minister, Cathy Jamieson, and I accept that she was not responsible for the actions of the previous Government. However, she was close to some of the key decision makers at the time, and I hoped that we would hear an apology from her on behalf of the previous Government—that was wishful thinking.

The situation that I have described is why this Government have embarked upon a fundamental reform of our system of financial regulation. We have introduced domestic legislation to increase the resilience of financial institutions to shocks. The Financial Services Act 2012 fundamentally reformed the previous, failed tripartite system by giving the Bank of England clear responsibility for maintaining financial stability; establishing the Financial Policy Committee within the Bank as a strong and expert macro-prudential authority; creating the Prudential Regulation Authority, a new micro-prudential regulator, as a subsidiary of the Bank of England; and creating a new independent conduct of business regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority.