I thank the Minister for his comments. I hope the people watching the debate, either in the Gallery or at home, understand that they have many friends in Parliament who want this issue to be dealt with. I know that he does as well. There is such universality of support for dealing with it properly that we will get there in the end, although we are not yet where we need to be.
I appreciate that the Minister is going further than others have gone in the past. Nevertheless, people will be sceptical about the ability of a bank or an independent reviewer, as he called it, to look at the issues and to provide proper redress and a proper method of investigating the complaints. I tried to illustrate in my speech that it was not just about fraud, but about how the corporation itself sought to suppress evidence and a proper investigation of the issues. People are simply not going to accept that anything done voluntarily is fit for purpose.
The Minister is right that I think that a tribunal is the right way forward, rather than simply expanding the ombudsman scheme. For historical cases, it sets a limit of £350,000 as compensation, but every case we deal with is over that figure, so that does not go anywhere near addressing our concerns. It is not the compensation scheme that we need.
I also do not accept that small business lending will suffer if we have more regulation. We simply need a fair and reasonable test for deciding the claims. Ireland introduced regulation for small business lending a few years ago, and its lending has increased significantly since then, so the Minister’s fears are misplaced. We need to ensure that small and medium-sized business interests, which are the most critical interests to our economy, are protected and supported through the process.
Question put and agreed to.
That this House
has considered the independent review of HBOS Reading.