Bridget Phillipson: “I want a banking system we can be proud of”

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ANOTHER scandal has rocked the banking industry. Barclays has been fined £290m for trying to manipulate Libor – a key bank lending rate.

 Of course this matters in principle, but why should it matter to families and businesses on Wearside?

 Libor is used by banks to set interest rates for mortgages but also other loans, potentially affecting a significant number of businesses both large and small.   Barclays submitted misleading figures to boost their profits, but then also to make the bank seem safer during the financial crisis.

 This would appear to be fraud, and the Serious Fraud Office needs to urgently review whether criminal charges can be brought against those responsible.

 But it seems unlikely that this comes down to just one or two rogue traders.

 We saw so many examples of reckless, short term behaviour during the financial crash and this appears to be yet another.

 Ever since then, we have talked about the need for change in the culture of the banking industry.

 The government announced on Monday that a Parliamentary inquiry would take place.

 I welcome this, but I believe the government should go much further with a full, public inquiry.

 I accept that Labour didn’t do enough in government to tackle the excesses of the city, but we should consider what went wrong under successive governments.  

 Not just here but across the world. I don’t want this to become about partisan point scoring but about stopping this appalling behaviour.

This sorry episode has again damaged the reputation of the UK banking industry.

An industry that, after all, provides thousands of jobs at places such as Barclays at Doxford International Business Park to hard-working people who played no part in the scandal.

I want a banking system that we can be proud of as a country.

A system where small business can get the finance they need to expand and where customers can have confidence in the products they are being sold.

But in order to know what to put right, we need to get to the bottom of what went wrong in the first place.

I hope that the parliamentary inquiry can do this, but it faces a difficult task ahead.

SUNDERLAND has come alive in recent weeks with the visit of the Olympic Torch and three hugely successful gigs at the Stadium.

 They have provided a much-needed boost to the local economy.

 Praise is due to the staff at the club for making this possible.

 In spite of the near biblical rain, we proved we could enjoy ourselves.

 Those of us at the Red Hot Chili Peppers were let off lightly and suffered less of a drenching.

 Sunderland is now firmly on the map for big promoters and next year’s announcements can’t come soon enough.