MPs call for banks to stop negotiating in secret

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The Independent Online

The chairman of the Commons Treasury Select Committee has increased pressure on Britain's banks by calling for the immediate publication of their submissions to the Independent Commission on Banking (ICB) following Monday's deadline for proposals.

Andrew Tyrie said last week the banks should make their proposals public to allow a proper debate on the commission's proposals to ring-fence retail and investment banking. But no bank has revealed its hand since the date for submissions to the ICB lapsed.

Asked yesterday when they should publish, Mr Tyrie said: "Now. The commission published its interim report in April and the banks have had ample time to think through how they will respond."

He added: "All the banks, directly or indirectly, have benefited from taxpayer support in this crisis. In working out how best to protect against future bailouts, the banks need to engage fully and publicly. So far the banks' engagement has been distinctly mixed."

At the last committee session, even the most vocal MPs stuck mainly to the details of how to reorganise the banks. But the bosses are likely to be roughed up next time they appear if they fail to publish their arguments.

The heads of HSBC, Lloyds, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland weredivided on ring-fencing at their recent committee grilling. Lloyds was in favour while HSBC said it could live with the idea and unveiled a plan to split businesses along accounting lines.

The ICB process and Mr Tyrie's demands have led to confusion. Some banks are waiting for the ICB to publish the submissions but others are considering pre-empting the committee after they were surprised by the ICB's publication in January of their initial evidence.

The ICB was yesterday said to be planning to publish submissions at the end of July, which would leave only the quiet month of August – when many business people and politicians go on holiday – before the ICB unveils its final report in September. An ICB spokesperson was not available for comment yesterday.