Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Regional Banking and Labour - Ed says he is for it but voted against Regional Banks

This was the Leader of the Opposition today in Bournemouth:
"Turning it round means changing our banking system.

So we would have a new British Investment Bank to get finance to small businesses.
And regional banks too.
Banks that are legally obliged to invest in their region of the country and their region alone."

Last Thursday I debated the Adonis report. The Labour spokesman was Iain Wright, normally a perfectly normal individual. On Thursday he was on another planet and said not a word about the Adonis Report, and seemed to be at another debate. He seemed not to understand the Report's recommendation on a Business Bank, and refused to endorse community regional banks, or answer why he and his colleagues had voted against them in April 2012 in the House of Commons - with Ed.
Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 5 September 2013, c573)
Guy Opperman (Hexham, Conservative)
Does the hon. Gentleman at least accept the report’s recommendations on the business bank? Specifically, does he now accept—he did not when he voted against them in April 2012—that community banks are the way forward for the north-east?

Iain Wright (Hartlepool, Labour)
Businesses do not have confidence that the Government’s business bank is having any impact whatsoever. It is slow off the mark—[Interruption.] If the hon. Gentleman would stop chuntering and allow me to speak, I will respond to his question. The business bank is not working.

And on he went about matters neither to do with the Report, nor my question.

The debates I have had with the Labour front bench are legion on this issue. They cannot reconcile their support for regional banks yet every time it comes to a House of Commons vote they vote against them. I would welcome a Damascene conversion, but I will believe it when I see it.

Interestingly this was my question and answer to the Prime Minister in the House only yesterday:
Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 9 September 2013, c703)
Guy Opperman (Hexham, Conservative)
On the economy, the Prime Minister spoke of repairing our broken banking system. Does he agree that the creation and expansion of regional and local banks are key reforms of this Government that will provide finance for small and medium-sized enterprises, address payday lending problems, and reinvigorate local community banking?
David Cameron (Prime Minister; Witney, Conservative)
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. As well as looking at the big banks and how we nurse them back to health—some good progress has been made there—we also need to encourage what are called “challenger” banks, and new lenders into the British economy. Those can be crowdsource funders as well as new start-up banks, or businesses such as supermarkets that are getting into banking. We should be encouraging all those things for a more competitive sector.

Whilst Ed is talking, we are doing actual regional banking reform. I am pleased that Ed is now on board. He should talk to his team who are clearly not singing from the same hymn sheet.