THE Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards (PCBS) was established in the wake of the Libor scandal earlier this year and has already proved controversial with today’s report.
The commission is looking into ways in which standards in the banking industry can be raised.
It will probe the industry more broadly than an earlier commission led by Sir John Vickers, which last year called for banks to ringfence their retail services from their investment operations.
The PCBS is chaired by Andrew Tyrie and was set up by chancellor George Osborne after the furore that followed revelations that Barclays traders had been involved in rigging interest rates in the interbank lending market.
It has since emerged that many other banks were involved in the same activity and earlier this week UBS was hit with £940m in fines, more than three times the Barclays penalties.
The members of the PCBS are Andrew Tyrie, the Bishop of Durham, Mark Garnier, Baroness Kramer, Lord Lawson of Blaby, Andrew Love, Pat McFadden, Lord McFall of Alcluith, John Thurso and Lord Turnbull.
LIBERAL Democrat Baroness Kramer is one of several peers on the commission. She began her career in banking in 1982 at Continental Illinois Bank before working for Citicorp and later setting up several of her own companies. She served as MP for Richmond Park until 2010, when she lost her seat to Tory candidate Zac Goldsmith. She has championed community-focused mutual banks, and this year warned banks against ending free current accounts before they regained public trust.
The former Conservative chancellor of the exchequer, who served in Margaret Thatcher’s administration, is an advocate of completely splitting retail and investment banking operations. Lawson has argued that bankers are clever enough to find ways around a simple ringfence. He has also attacked the system of financial regulation – now being reformed – instituted by one of his successors in Number 11, Labour chancellor Gordon Brown.
JUSTIN Welby has recently hit the headlines for more than his seat on the commission: the Bishop of Durham was picked to succeed Rowan Williams as the Archbishop of Canterbury last month. He has still found time to participate in the commission’s hearings, however, drawing on his years of experience as an oil executive. In October, the Old Etonian said pre-2008 financial markets were “exponents of anarchy” and financial services “served nothing”.
Labour MP Patrick McFadden may not be the biggest name on the commission but the former shadow business secretary, currently MP for Wolverhampton South East, is a man who was at the heart of the New Labour project that swept former Prime Minister Tony Blair to power in 1997. A former speechwriter for Labour leader John Smith, he acted as Blair’s adviser in opposition and in government, becoming Blair’s political secretary in 2002.