Professional Standards in the Banking Industry: 5th July 2012

Ed Balls
I am not going to take an intervention from that hon. Gentleman.

While we need speed, we also need the inquiry to be thorough and genuinely cathartic, and to succeed in rebuilding public trust and confidence, or else we risk being back here again.

The third argument the Government employ is one of form: that, compared to a full judicial inquiry, a parliamentary inquiry can do the job just as well in less time, and with less cost. We do not believe that that argument holds water, but more important, it does not take on board the scale of the task ahead.
Anna Soubry (Broxtowe) (Con)

Anna Soubry
Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Ed Balls
I will give way to the hon. Lady in a moment—[Interruption.] There is no need for any favours like that to get me to—[Laughter.]

Let me summarise the case for a public inquiry as simply as I can by quoting from a higher authority. Let me quote from a call for an independent public inquiry on banking:

“Is not the truth that in Britain people are losing their homes, small businesses are closing, unemployment is rising and manufacturing output is falling again and that, by refusing to hold a public inquiry, the Prime Minister is yet again demonstrating that he cannot provide the change people want?”—[Official Report, 5 November 2008; Vol. 482, c. 247.]

I could not have put it better myself. But those are not my words. They are directly from the right hon. Member for Witney—Cameron direct. I checked this morning and the quote is still on the Conservative party website, under the headline, “Why won’t the Prime Minister hold a public enquiry?” It even has a photo of the current Prime Minister there for us all to see. He said we need an independent inquiry. That was on 5 November 2008. How things have changed, for all of us. I know that the Prime Minister makes such a virtue of consistency, so I hope he will join us in the Lobby tonight for another Treasury U-turn—they just keep coming for this Chancellor.

Let me turn to the votes. I have set out three concerns—scope, speed and form—which we are told are the reasons the Government object to our proposal for an independent judge-led inquiry. I have explained why we do not believe that any of these arguments stack up—to be honest, the Attorney-General has been very helpful in this regard. We urge hon. Members to think hard. I said I would take an intervention from the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Anna Soubry), so I will take that first.
Anna Soubry
I am grateful to the shadow Chancellor, a fine Nottingham boy, and I am enjoying his contribution. We all agree that this is an outrageous scandal and we need to get to the bottom of it, but does he not also agree that out there in the real world people want to hear a little acceptance of responsibility and a little contrition from him, because he was a member of the Government when this scandal happened and it was on his watch?

Anna Soubry
Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr Tyrie
I will not, if my hon. Friend will forgive me. I am going to get on with my speech now.