The Bishop of Exeter received the following written answer on 14th March 2023:
The Lord Bishop of Exeter asked His Majesty’s Government how many bank branches in Devon closed in (1) 2018, (2) 2019, (3) 2020, (4) 2021, and (5) 2022.
Baroness Penn (Con): The Government believes that all customers, wherever they live, should have appropriate access to banking services. Nonetheless, decisions on opening and closing branches are a commercial issue for banks and building societies. The Government does not intervene in these decisions nor make direct assessments of these branch networks. Based on constituency level data published by LINK there are over 650 ATMs and more than 80 bank branches in the county of Devon.
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On 10th January 2023, the House of Lords debated the Financial Services and Markets Bill in it’s second reading. The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke in the debate, highlighting the need for good practice and quality of service in the finance industry:
The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, this year marks the 10th anniversary of the final report of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, Changing Banking for Good. I declare my interest having served on that commission, and I welcome the presence in this debate of the noble Baroness, Lady Kramer, who also served, as did the current Lord Speaker. I also welcome the maiden speeches of three noble Lords today: the noble Lords, Lord Ashcombe and Lord Remnant, and the noble Baroness, Lady Lawlor.
We need to remember that the extraordinary crisis in 2008—which led to the various commissions, reports and changes in regulations, including the financial services Act 2013, in which the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards played a part—caused huge and ongoing crises. While welcoming the Bill very strongly, I join some of the hesitations mentioned by the noble Lords, Lord Hunt, Lord Sharkey and Lord Vaux. It has been estimated that the financial services industry, and particularly the major banks, have an effective subsidy as a result of the implicit government guarantee that they receive, which is worth approximately £30 billion a year. If there is £30 billion a year going spare, many other industries and not a few churches would welcome that very warmly. However, that subsidy, which is at the risk of the taxpayer, as we saw in 2008 and 2009, is what gives the result of the banks having heavy social obligations; we must look carefully at that when the Bill reaches Committee, as has already been said. The issues of inclusion, stability and access at all levels, especially for micro-businesses, are very important, not least for levelling up.
Continue reading “Financial Services and Markets Bill: Archbishop of Canterbury stresses importance of serving the common good”
The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answer on 21st December 2022:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked His Majesty’s Government:
- what steps they are taking to ensure that cash access remains viable in the most remote parts of the UK.
- further to the introduction of shared banking hubs in larger towns in the UK, what assessment they have made of level of cash access those in the most rural areas can expect to have in the future.
- what steps they are taking to support people who rely solely on cash to (1) access cash, and (2) access digital banking alternatives to cash.
Lord Harlech (Con): The government recognises that while the transition towards digital banking and payments brings many opportunities, cash continues to be used by millions of people across the UK, including those who may be in vulnerable groups.
The government is currently taking legislation to protect access to cash across the UK through Parliament as part of the Financial Services and Markets Bill 2022. The legislation will establish the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) as the lead regulator for access to cash with responsibility and powers to seek to ensure reasonable provision of withdrawal and deposit facilities.
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On 30th December the Bishop of St Albans received a written answer to questions on HSBC, China and democracy campaigners in Hong Kong:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the relationship between HSBC Bank and the Chinese Communist Party. [HL11375]
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to HSBC Bank following that bank’s suspension of the bank accounts of pro-democracy campaigners from Hong Kong. [HL11376] Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks about HSBC, China and Hong Kong democracy campaigners”
On 22nd October 2019 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked the Government “what assessment they have made of the impact on rural communities of the decision by Barclays Bank to end cash withdrawal services from the Post Office”. The bishop then asked a follow-up question:
Lord Bishop of St Albans: I beg leave to ask the Question in my name on the Order Paper and declare my interest as president of the Rural Coalition.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Northern Ireland Office (Lord Duncan of Springbank): My Lords, the Government are disappointed by the withdrawal of Barclays from the renegotiated banking framework. None the less, the new banking framework will enable customers to access their cash from 27 high street banks. The Government will continue to ensure that communities receive support and have choice about how they manage their finances.
Lord Bishop of St Albans: I thank the Minister for his reply. Rural communities rely on access to finance, but in many rural areas where there is poor broadband or weak mobile signal, online banking is impossible. This is a fundamental issue for our rural areas. What representations have Her Majesty’s Government made to Barclays Bank, and what will we do if other banks decide to follow its lead? Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about access to cash withdrawal services in rural areas”
On 3rd September 2019 the Bishop of St Albans led a debate on a motion to ask the Government “what assessment they have made of the implementation of the recommendations of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards and the opportunities for further banking reform”. The Bishop of Birmingham, Rt Revd David Urquhart, also made a contribution:
Lord Bishop of Birmingham: My Lords, I am grateful to my right reverend friend for leading this debate and I welcome the Minister to his new role. I want to focus on the recommendations in the original report—the references in paragraph 138 of the summary, volume 1—which looked at culture change. The response of the banking industry to that challenge came through a report produced by Sir Richard Lambert, which said that if the banks didn’t face up to this, there will be further intervention, regulation and direction. As a result, the UK Banking Standards Board was set up in 2015. I declare my interests in that I am a founder member of that board and also part of the ad hoc Financial Exclusion Committee which has been referred to already.
Continue reading “Bishop of Birmingham speaks about banking reform”
On 3rd September 2019 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, led a debate in the House of Lords on a motion to ask Government “what assessment they have made of the implementation of the recommendations of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards and the opportunities for further banking reform”. The Bishop of Birmingham also made a contribution, which can be found here. The Bishop’s speech introducing the debate is below, as is the Government response:
Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I add my welcome to the noble Lord, Lord Bethell, in his new role and I look forward to working with him.
I begin by acknowledging that the banks have an important role in our society today. They do many good things—they employ more than 1 million people and pay more than £60 billion in tax annually—but, despite the many good things they do, we are also aware of the history of recent years. We are now 11 years on from the financial crash and six years on from the publication of the report by the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, and it is almost three years to the day since I last secured a debate on this topic.
Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans leads Lords debate on progress made in banking reform”
On the 6th September 2017 Lord Leigh of Hurley asked Government “whether it is their policy to reduce unnecessary regulation of financial services; and if so, whether they intend to review current Financial Conduct Authority practices to ascertain whether that regulator is going beyond what is appropriate and necessary to fulfil that policy.” The Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun asked a follow up question:
The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, when do Her Majesty’s Government intend to implement in full the principal recommendations of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, published in June 2013?
Continue reading “Bishop of Southwark asks Government when it will implement Banking Standards Commission recommendations”
On 8th September 2016 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, led a debate in the House of Lords: “To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of progress towards implementing the recommendations contained within the report of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, Changing banking for good.” The Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Rev & Rt Hon Justin Welby spoke in the debate, having previously served on the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards.
The Bishop of St Albans’ opening speech and the response of the Minister can be read here.
The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, I add my congratulations to those of other noble Lords on the appointment of the noble Lord, Lord Ashton, as the Minister at DCMS. I have no doubt that we will come across each other again as “C”, “M” and “S” all seem to cover the Church in various forms. I should also say that I served on the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards and had the very good fortune to do so with the noble Baroness, Lady Kramer, from whom I learned a great deal. I am also chairman of the Church Commissioners, who were involved in seeking to buy some of the spin-off assets of the Royal Bank of Scotland.
I am grateful to the right reverend Prelate for arranging this debate. I agree entirely with his speech and indeed with the other four speakers that have been made before mine. I shall try to avoid repeating what they said. As we know, and as previous speakers have said, the key issue is banking culture. Culture comes from actions and decisions, and actions and decisions feed into culture. There is no doubt that changes introduced by the Government and the Bank of England have been extensive, and in many cases very effective. However, there are four linked areas, all of them around “too big to fail”, leading to what must be the long-term aim of ensuring that the Government do not have a contingent liability with respect to large banks that would result in them needing to provide support in the event of serious problems, as they had to do in 2008 at such cost. Continue reading “Archbishop speaks on banking reform, culture and practice”
On 8th September 2016 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, led a debate in the House of Lords: “To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of progress towards implementing the recommendations contained within the report of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, Changing banking for good.”
The Bishop’s opening speech is below, followed by the response of the Minister. Other members spoke in the debate, including the Archbishop of Canterbury (speech here) who had served on the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I start this debate by saying how pleased I am to see the Minister responding today in his last time in his present role, although I look forward to working with him when he takes up his new duties at DCMS.
We are now three years on from the publication of the parliamentary commission’s report Changing Banking for Good. Thanks to the decisions made by this and previous Governments, our banking system is taking tentative but important steps along the road to recovery. We must not forget, however, the blunt summary in the report which laid out the scale of the problems with banks over the previous decade:
“Banks in the UK have failed in many respects. They have failed taxpayers, who had to bail out a number of banks including some major institutions, with a cash outlay peaking at £133 billion, equivalent to more than £2,000 for every person in the UK. They have failed many retail customers, with widespread product mis-selling. They have failed their own shareholders, by delivering poor long-term returns and destroying shareholder value. They have failed in their basic function to finance economic growth, with businesses unable to obtain the loans that they need at an acceptable price”.
Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans leads debate on banking reform”
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