Banks inquiry branded 'total joke' as key inquisitors excluded

 

The parliamentary inquiry into the banking industry and Libor scandal was branded a “total joke” today after two of the Commons' toughest inquisitors on financial issues were excluded from it.

Neither Labour MP John Mann nor Conservative MP Andrea Leadsom have been selected to sit on the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, despite their forthright questioning of bankers as members of the Treasury Select Committee.

The Commission will be chaired by Tory MP and Treasury Committee chairman Andrew Tyrie.

Its other MP members will be Tory Mark Garnier, Labour MPs Andy Love and Pat McFadden and Liberal Democrat John Thurso - who all sit on the Treasury Committee too.

Mr Mann took to Twitter this morning to describe the new committee as "a total joke".

He said the inquiry would be a "whitewash" and that he was going to set up his own.

"Both Andrea and I were available for the inquiry and because we are too outspoken we have been blocked," he said.

"This exposes the inquiry as a total whitewash with Andrew Tyrie reaching his conclusions in advance of the meetings.

"We need to get to the bottom of this scandal and I'm therefore setting up my own inquiry into this dreadful mess."

The Commission, which will study professional standards and the culture of the banking sector and recommend new legislation in the wake of the Libor rate-fixing scandal, will also feature members of the House of Lords.

A motion to set up the committee has been signed by Prime Minster David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne as well as Labour leader Ed Miliband and shadow chancellor Ed Balls.

The terms of reference set out in the motion require the commission to consider and report on "professional standards and culture of the UK banking sector, taking account of regulatory and competition investigations into the Libor rate-setting process" and "lessons to be learned about corporate governance, transparency and conflicts of interest, and their implications for regulation and for Government policy".

It will have the power to appoint a barrister to question witnesses, in an attempt to raise the usual standards of examination displayed by MP-led select committee inquiries.

The commission is required to report on its recommendations for legislation by December 18 and "on other matters as soon as possible thereafter".

Ms Leadsom won widespread praise for her forensic questioning of Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond earlier this month.

Mr Mann also gave the banker a tough time over the Libor scandal, telling him: "Either you were complicit in what was going on, or you were grossly negligent, or you were grossly incompetent."

The banking review was announced by the Government shortly after it emerged that Barclays and other banks had been involved in manipulating the inter-bank lending rate, or Libor.

Labour has agreed to co-operate with it even though leader Ed Miliband has been demanding a judge-led inquiry.

Downing Street stressed that the three main parties had agreed who would be on the committee.

"The membership of the committee is something for the political parties and they have agreed between themselves who can serve," the Prime Minister's spokesman said.

"It is an unusual committee in that it can draw on advice and that includes using counsel to question witnesses."

PA

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