Many people in Salford have been angry with the banks for some time. Local people and businesses have been let down by banks that appear not to be interested in lending to our small and medium sized businesses. Many people have also been sold expensive and complex insurance products that they did not want or need. And people feel real anger that the banks have continued paying out billions of pounds in bonuses to highly paid staff while taxpayers’ money had to be loaned to keep the banking industry afloat when banks ran into difficulties.
Now a new scandal involving banks like Barclays is unfolding. People in Worsley and Eccles South have written to tell me that they want to see an independent inquiry into this scandal. Labour believes that such an inquiry should be headed by a judge to ensure that it is independent. However, Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs voted down Labour's motion to have a judge-led inquiry. Instead, they voted to have a Parliamentary inquiry headed by a Conservative MP and with a Government majority on the committee.
It is clear now that corrupt practices such as fixing interbank interest rates have been happening at Barclays and possibly at other banks. Large numbers of people and businesses may have been affected by this corrupt and possibly criminal behaviour. This makes it even more important that the people who engaged in these practices are held to account for what they did.
After last summer’s riots, there was a swift reckoning and stiff punishments were handed out by the courts to those who had looted shops and caused criminal damage. We should expect no less than this for those who have fiddled interest rates and caused criminal damage to their customers’ mortgages and businesses. Labour will co-operate with the inquiry into banking practices which will be held in Parliament, but we will continue to call for a properly independent inquiry led by a judge.