Banking inquiry will consider break-up issue

The Government inquiry into banking reforms will consider breaking up Britain's largest high street banks to increase competition, it was confirmed today.

The Independent Commission on Banking (IBC) will look not only at whether to split investment and retail banking operations, but also radical options such as forcing the UK's "too big to fail" banks to divest assets to address competition concerns.

It stressed the commission had not settled on any options at this stage, but chairman Sir John Vickers said "hard questions" needed to be asked.