Ministers pressured to reveal Northern Rock losses

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The Independent Online

The Government is coming under mounting pressure to come clean over the level of losses Northern Rock is expected to make during the next four years of public ownership.

Opposition parties have demanded ministers make public an estimate of the losses. Mark Hoban, the shadow Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said the Chief Secretary, Yvette Cooper, had repeatedly failed to answer questions on losses in the House of Commons. "The taxpayer has already taken on an extra £3,500 per household and the Government should come clean about projected losses for the next four years. The taxpayer, as owner, is entitled to know this," he said.

Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrats shadow Chancellor, said he was confident that Northern Rock would be able to repay billions of pounds in loans advanced by the Treasury in August.

"I am still confident that the Government will be able to sell the bank in 2011 at a profit," he said. But added: "There are going to be losses and ministers should come clean about them."

Northern Rock posted a pretax loss of £168m in 2007 and is not expected to break even until 2011. The bank has admitted it will be "significantly loss making" until then but has so far refused to put figures on how large those losses might be.

A Treasury spokesman said: "What we have put out has been a summary of the business plan. That is a fair amount of detail about what the bank is going to do." The spokesman said further financial information would not be revealed "on the grounds of commercial confidentiality".