Bishop of St Albans asks about health of the banking sector

The Bishop of St Albans tabled a question on the health of the British banking sector on 21st March 2023:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask His Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the health of the British banking sector, following the challenges faced by overseas banks.

Baroness Penn (Con): The UK Government welcome the steps taken to support financial stability on Sunday by the Swiss authorities relating to Credit Suisse. This follows the sale on 13 March of Silicon Valley Bank UK to HSBC after the resolution of its US parent. No other UK banks have been materially affected by these actions. The Governor of the Bank of England has confirmed that, in his view:

“The wider UK banking system remains safe, sound, and well capitalised.”

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: I thank the Minister for her reply. Many people watching the events unfold at the moment are concerned that they may lose their jobs or that there will be another financial hit to people at a time of high inflation. It is 10 years since we had the publication of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards report. One of its conclusions was that the implicit taxpayer guarantee gives banks

“access to cheaper credit than would otherwise be available and creates incentives for them to take excessive risks.”

Do His Majesty’s Government have any steps to remove the implicit taxpayer guarantee? If not, what other incentives will His Majesty’s Government give to ensure that bankers act prudently?

Baroness Penn (Con): My Lords, I emphasise to people at home the words of the Governor of the Bank of England that the UK banking system

“remains safe, sound, and well capitalised.”

The situation is different from 2008. Over the last 15 years, the Government and the Bank of England have taken robust action to strengthen the regulatory system and the resilience of the UK banking system. Specifically to the right reverend Prelate’s question, we have put in place a resolution regime to ensure that the failure of a bank can be managed in a way that minimises the impact on depositors, the financial system and public finances. I note that the resolution solution found for Silicon Valley Bank last week involved no UK taxpayer money whatever.


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