The Archbishop-elect shows no fear of demons in pinstripe suits

Experience negotiating with fearsome warlords in Nigeria makes parliament a doddle

Share
Related Topics

It would be premature as well as irreverent to invoke the eviction of money changers from the Temple But to judge by yesterday’s showing, bankers would be highly unwise to mess with His Grace.

Having decided to remain on the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards despite being named as the next Archbishop of Canterbury, Bishop Welby not only turned up at yesterday’s session. He made a difference.   

You couldn’t help wonder if the financiers might have preferred him to confine himself to his enlarged pastoral duties.  It’s not just that his theological dissertation was ominously entitled “Can business sin?” Or that he recently told a conference that before 2008 “the industry was referred to as financial services, but in fact it served nothing”.

Or that having worked  in the oil business  he knows  what high finance is all about. As a man who by all accounts repeatedly risked his life negotiating with –and at times being kidnapped by– fearsome warlords in Nigeria, he is unlikely to be intimidated by men in pinstripe suits, however expensive.

Whether or not  in deference to his new job, he was yesterday promoted to a seat  between former Chancellor Lord Lawson and  the Commission’s chairman Andrew Tyrie who simply referred to him – so grand is this august and erudite body – as “Justin Welby”, despite his cross, the unobtrusive dog collar and  the imposing  nameplate proclaiming him “The Lord Bishop of Durham”.

His Lordship is the polar opposite of Gerald Ford who, according to LBJ, couldn’t walk and chew gum at the same time. Indeed he is such a multi-tasker that he managed to tap regularly on his iPad, write – with pen and paper – copious notes and ask some of the more intelligible questions of yesterday’s witness, Sir John Vickers, the man appointed after the crash to recommend reforms of the stricken banking industry.

Asking about  “cultural contamination” across the “ring fence” that Vickers proposed will henceforth  separate the investment and retail arms of banks, he suggested that an investor-banker chairman would be able to influence the retail side of the business, not by “subtle osmosis” but by simply declaring “we’ve got to push these dozy people in retail to be more aggressive”.

He gave a dry and pregnant  laugh when a heavily  sceptical Tyrie asked whether  Vickers’ view  that bank directors would be entrusted with enforcing the “spirit as well as the letter” of new regulations, meant  that “we have got to rely on bankers to deliver this [because]…their hearts are in it.”

And the Bishop  asked Sir John, with just the faintest hint of incredulous distaste, whether it would still be possible for a bank’s retail operation  to sell derivatives “manufactured” –the term used by his Liberal Democrat fellow Commissioner John Thurso – by the investment arm.

His Lordship knows better than most that you cannot serve two masters. And it doesn’t look as if he’ll be choosing Mammon.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist / Physio / Osteopath

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for o...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Sales Executive - Contract Hire

£35000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leader provides c...

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Don’t pity me for eating alone, just give me a better table

Rosie Millard
Aerial view of planned third runway at Heathrow  

Heathrow expansion: This final 'conclusion' has simply fanned the airport flames

Chris Blackhurst
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most