| LONDON, June 9
LONDON, June 9 New proposals to improve
standards and culture within UK banks will be thrashed out by
British lawmakers in important meetings next week which could
shape the industry for years to come.
The Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, led by
Conservative Andrew Tyrie, was set up by the government last
July after Barclays was found to have manipulated
global interest rate benchmarks, sparking public outrage.
After months of compiling evidence from former and current
bank executives, regulators, central bankers, academics,
politicians and consumer rights activists, the committee is
putting the finishing touches to a 600-page report and will
debate it on Monday and Tuesday, industry and political sources
One of the areas which will be most intensely debated will
be the future of RBS, 81 percent-owned by the government.
Some members of the commission, including former British
Finance Minister Nigel Lawson, want the bank to be broken up,
with its toxic assets hived off into a 'bad bank', leaving the
resulting 'good bank' better placed to increase lending to
British households and businesses.
But others are concerned that not enough evidence has been
considered on the matter. Outgoing Bank of England Governor
Mervyn King brought the issue to the fore by recommending a
breakup of RBS in the last of 73 sessions in which he gave
evidence to the committee as part of its industry-wide review.
Commission sources have said the report will put forward
such a move as an option but will not make a definitive
recommendation on whether it will be implemented.
The commission's final proposals will suggest there is not
enough competition within the industry, the sources said, and
that Britain's major banks are still not adequately regulated.
"One of the key issues is that the major banks are too big
and too complex to be able to provide effective corporate
governance," one commission member told Reuters.
Ways to create new banks and foster competition in the
industry will be considered by the committee. Suggestions by
some members that customers switch accounts more easily and
start-up banks carry less capital are already being implemented.
The commission may also recommend a review into the
viability of an industry-wide IT platform, which would enable
customers to keep their account numbers when they change banks.
Excessive pay will also be tackled: the committee will
likely recommend tougher sanctions against executives associated
with failed banks to stop them working in the industry again.
The commission is aiming to publish the report on June 17,
according to one source, two days prior to British Finance
Minister George Osborne's annual Mansion House policy speech to
London's financiers. A spokesman declined to comment.
So far the committee has achieved a success with Osborne
adopting its proposal to give regulators the power to break
banks up if they abuse new rules designed to protect retailers'
deposits from riskier investment activities.