Public Ownership of Banks

Earlier today the Treasury Select Committee questioned the Chairman and Executive Chairman of UK Financial Investments Ltd, Robin Budenberg and James Leigh-Pemberton respectively, on the company’s management of the Government’s shareholdings in the Royal Bank of Scotland Group and the Lloyds Banking Group, as well as other residual assets, and their progress towards disposal of these shares in order to return the banks to private ownership.

I was particularly keen to question both individuals on the efforts made by UKFI, as activist shareholders, to resolve the historic issues around RBS banking systems, including ensuring that the breakdown of their payments systems cannot ever possibly happen again. I continue to question what unique advantage there is, if any, to having UKFI overseeing this process rather than a Government Department.

As a constituency MP, I am entirely of the view that we can never again allow the situation where 13 million customers are unable to check their balances or make any payments for two weeks – in fact, in some cases, for up to a month. It is also important for the Government – for taxpayers – to withdraw from public ownership of these banks as soon as is practically possible.

You can read the full transcript of the TSC inquiry here, and you can find my remarks on pages 26 to 29. You can also watch me question Mr Budenberg and Mr Leigh-Pemberton below.