The Parliamentary banking commission moved into high gear yesterday with an urgent call for evidence into the collapse in industry standards that has led to a string of devastating scandals and contributed to the worst recession since the Second World War.
Prompted by the public outrage over the Libor interest rate-fixing scandal that led Barclays to pay £290m in fines and will likely result in as many as 20 other banks facing penalties, the inquiry has until 18 December to table proposals designed to bring to heel an industry seen by many as out of control.
The cross-party commission is chaired by Andrew Tyrie, who is also chairman of the Treasury Select Committee. Its inquiry into the Barclays scandal has cast an unflattering light on both the industry and its regulators.
The commssion wants to know "to what extent are professional standards in UK banking absent or defective" and how this compares to other leading markets, professions and the UK's historic experience of banking.
It also intends to investigate the consequences of declining standards for consumers, both retail and wholesale, and for the economy as a whole and for the public's trust in and expectations of the banking sector. The commssion will further look at the causes of this, taking into account the culture of banking, remuneration and issues such as globalisation and regulation. It will also consider competition issues and corporate structures together with the sector's corporate governance.
The commission wants suggestions from respondents on what can and should be done to address any weaknesses identified through either corporate, regulatory or legislative action, both domestically or internationally.