Scotland hamstrung over bank probe
Brian Wilson’s call for the Scottish Parliament to investigate what happened during the banking crisis (Perspective, 19 September) is a sorry attempt to deflect from Westminster inadequacies.
As a member of the Scottish Parliament’s economy, energy and tourism committee during the last session, we spent many months investigating the banking crisis and its effect upon Scotland.
This culminated in a report published on 18 March, 2010 which can be found on the Scottish Parliament website.
The three SNP members of the committee wanted to extend the remit of the inquiry further but as there were five members from unionist parties, this was never going to be accepted.
In addition, there were members of the Labour Party who did not even want the inquiry in the first place, but reluctantly agreed.
Finally, our committee’s attempts to obtain as much information as possible were thwarted by the Bank of England, which refused to provide any written or verbal evidence.
Its justification for snubbing the committee, and the Scottish Parliament, centred around its accountability to the UK Parliament only.
This snub angered all members of the committee and despite repeated attempts, the Bank of England maintained its position.
I am in agreement with Brian Wilson that further investigation should take place, but while the Scottish Parliament is limited in its powers to compel organisations and bodies to provide evidence, then what guarantee is there that there will be a change of position from the Bank of England?
I firmly believe this is yet another example of why Scotland needs to become independent. With responsibility comes accountability. The people of Scotland deserve better than the limited powers available at present.
Stuart McMillan MSP
A glaring lack of logic ran through Brian Wilson’s plea for a Scottish Government inquiry into the near collapse of two major banks here in 2008.
The most remarkable was his assertion that “the Scottish economy is the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament” and that this justifies putting resources into a full investigation.
Isn’t the current debate about independence mainly about the fact that the Scottish Government and Parliament does not have sole control of the Scottish economy?
But leaving that aside, I think Mr Wilson has ignored an even more important point: the international nature of the banking crash. He may feel that the Financial Services Authority should not be acting as judge and jury over what led to the debacle.
That strengthens the case for an international inquiry, not one which simply involves Holyrood. When we consider that HBOS had more employees in Yorkshire than in Scotland, it is easy to see that the problem was not a Scottish one alone.
The Royal Bank of Scotland had interests and assets all over the world.
The decisions to overstretch itself may have emanated from Edinburgh. But the implications of its collapse would have had repercussions on national economies throughout the world.
Hence the need for international action from governments whose lacklustre approach to financial regulation had helped create the problem in the first place.
All this raises a key point. Simply because the “brass plate” headquarters exist in one country doesn’t mean to say that the edicts from there have effects in that country alone.
The wholly independent inquiry that Peter Cummings and Brian Wilson think is necessary has to be one with international status.
No doubt the Scottish Government would have some interesting things to tell it.
But since it had no fiscal, monetary or regulatory powers in the crisis it can hardly be held responsible for a full probe into what actually went on.
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