News Guardian, 25.01.18
Now that the EU Withdrawal Bill has passed its House of Commons’ stages and goes to the House of Lords, the Commons is reverting back to a familiar weekly pattern, with a day of debate inspired by backbenchers.
Whether last Thursday’s backbench debate on banking was the game-changer being claimed, time will tell. The motion was about RBS’s Global Restructuring Group and SME’s (Small to Medium Enterprises), though the debate ranged more widely than just one bank. At the heart of the motion was the proposition that several banks deliberately managed the closure of businesses to suit the banks interests. This was a claim that was made in the Tomlinson Report, which was set up to investigate what happened. Calling in loans and selling off assets, it is alleged, recapitalised the banks and made income for the banks, as well as for the professional advisors involved in the process.
Meanwhile, the clients were left powerless and facing huge debts. Some of their stories are harrowing. I raised two constituency cases, but there are many more. I also pressed the minister on the issue that if there is criminality involved, where are the resources to allow the police to investigate it properly? In response, the Treasury minister acknowledged the harm done to businesses and to the level of trust in the banks. He said that he would examine the case for an independent tribunal system. We need that; we also need regulators with teeth.
Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and they need a banking system working with them and not against them.
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