David Prosser: More cheques (and balances) required

 

Outlook When the Payments Council decided so few people use cheques these days that it could safely announce their abolition in a few years' time, it dropped an enormous clanger. The protests were so noisy that it was forced into aU-turn – and now the Treasury Select Committee wants to see its powers reined in.

One can see the MPs' point: the Payments Council holds sway over the way Britain's payments system works, yet representatives of the banks dominate its board. They come with their own agenda – which is why cheque guarantee cards are still up for the chop, for example, even though a small but significant minority of people want to see that decision reversed too.

Whether or not the Payments Council really needs to be brought under the control of our newfinancial regulators is questionable. But it is going to have to accept greater accountability.

Yesterday, it said its decision to backtrack on cheques proved itlistened to people's complaints, but the U-turn was far too long coming and probably wouldn't have happened without the intervention of groups such as the Treasury Select Committee.

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