Banking is Britain is broken. The bankers in the City of London have for too long been more interested in making a quick buck rather than helping businesses grow, and families to buy their own home.
Since my election as an MP in 2010 I have been campaigning for a new banking system. A banking system which is focused on serving local communities. A system of local banks, based in individual communities; a Bank of Hexham for example, or a Bank of Sunderland. A bank which is about people, not just profit.
At our banking conference yesterday our campaign took another step forward when Teeside born Treasury Minister Greg Clark backed the idea.
Greg, who is financial secretary to the Treasury, told delegates at the Baltic in Gateshead, that the coalition was eager to help new banks set up to help grow our regional economy.
He said: “It is no coincidence that problems in the banking system have come hand in hand with more centralisation.
“It was almost forgotten for some time by some people that banks exist to make the lives of their customers easier. yet community facilities have been replaced all too often by a system in which the computer says no.
“And yet there is no substitute for being a part of your community.
“The North East is an area that is growing but it will need large amounts of capital to do that and possibly from a bank based here. The fact that this conference is being held here, the first in the country, is though a great sign for the North East.”
Gregg also drew on his Teesside roots to set out the historic damage caused by bank centralisation.
“I grow up in Middlesbrough in the 1970s and 80s and you can clearly see in that era power slipping away from the region and elsewhere.
“That was industrial power, financial power and political power and was by no means a phenomenon unique to the North East.
“There was a time when Middlesbrough was described by Gladstone as an infant Hercules, and the industrialists who made it that way were indivisible from the community leadership.
“But as time changed and Dorman Long became British Steel and the financial decisions that affected jobs there started being made not by the banks of the Tees but of the Thames.”
You can read his full comments here in today's Journal