Archbishop of Canterbury supports “second reserve power” amendment to Banking Reform Bill

“The amendment—and this is why the element of culture is so important—increases vastly the voltage of the ring-fence. If it has to be used, like much of these forms of regulation, it will have failed to some degree. But it says that, if the industry loses its way in ethics and culture, as it did in the early years of this century, there is catastrophe in regulatory terms.”

On 8th October 2013, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd. and Rt Hon. Justin Welby, spoke on the first day of the Committee Stage of the Financial Services (Banking Reform) Bill. He spoke in support of Lord Turnbull’s amendment, based on the recommendation made by the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, which sought to introduce a second reserve power to “implement full separation” of “the [banking] sector as a whole.” The Archbishop described the amendment as a rational extension to existing provisions. He stated that it would reinforce a change of culture and act as a permanent reminder to the banking industry of the danger of slipping back into previous norms of behaviour. The Government argued against the amendment, having previously rejected the Commission’s recommendation in its First Report. The amendment was subsequently withdrawn. 

Archbishop of CanterburyThe Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, I apologise that I, too, was not here for Second Reading as I was at the funeral of a close friend. I speak as a member of the PCBS [Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards], having had the privilege of a year of lessons from the other members, especially noble Lords here today, and the great pleasure of being rung up by the noble Lord, Lawson, quite frequently at weekends, to explain how I should think about a particular subject, which he has done with great eloquence as well today.

I agree entirely with the speeches made by the noble Lord, Lord Turnbull, twice, and both speeches by the noble Lord, Lord Lawson, which have put the position very clearly. It must be a very long time—and my experience of this House is very limited—since a solution to a major problem was put forward with such a noticeable lack of enthusiasm. Almost everyone who has spoken about the ring-fence has damned it with faint praise, to put it at its most polite. The noble Baroness, Lady Cohen, simply eliminated it quite quickly and very clearly. We are in danger of getting lost in looking at the regulation and forgetting what the regulation is trying to do. This is about a question of a culture and ethics, not detailed rules. We all remember Bob Diamond, the chief executive of Barclays, saying that culture is what happens when no one is looking. Continue reading “Archbishop of Canterbury supports “second reserve power” amendment to Banking Reform Bill”

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