Tyrie calls on banks to reveal ICB proposals

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The Independent Online

The chairman of the Commons Treasury Select Committee increased the 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 that banks should publish their proposals to allow a proper debate on the commission's plans to ring-fence retail and investment banking. But no institution 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.

"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 details of how to reorganise the industry. But bank executives are likely to be criticised next time they appear before the MPs if they fail to publish their arguments. The heads of HSBC, Lloyds, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland were divided 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.

Yesterday, the ICB was said to be planning to publish submissions at the end of this month, 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. The ICB was not available for comment.

Mr Tyrie praised HSBC for starting a debate and said Lloyds was belatedly opening up under its new boss, Antonio Horta-Osorio. RBS and Barclays, however, opposed HSBC's formula and gave warning of higher costs and the risks of Government guarantees for potentially reckless retail lending.

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