‘RBS won’t quit Scotland, but we need clarity on independence’ says chief
LEADING Scottish banking figures have called for clarity on how plans for an independent Scotland would impact on the country’s crucial financial sector.
Sir Phillip Hampton, the chair of the Royal Bank of Scotland, told a reception in Edinburgh that his institution intended to remain a Scottish-headquartered bank should Scotland vote to leave the UK.
But he said he wanted to “achieve clarity” on what independence would mean for the bank. Raising its position in Scotland, he added: “Domicile is always important to banks and to the market perception of banks.”
Senior banking figures say the key issue will be over whether an independent Scotland would have a viable “lender of last resort” facility to reassure depositors and investors that the bank was safe. The SNP has said it would use the Bank of England, as now, with UK taxpayers continuing to offer back-up in the event of a collapse.
One senior banking source said: “You don’t have large banks in small countries any more.”
Owen Kelly, the chief executive of Scottish Financial Enterprise – which represents banks and financial bodies in Scotland – said last night the SNP’s plans “need to be tested” to see whether it is viable under EU treaties.
However, finance secretary John Swinney said: “As the chief executive of RBS has made clear, Scotland is the bank’s heartland and they operate within whatever the politicians or people decide are the rules of the land.”
He said a fiscal commission would feed into a white paper this time next year setting out the detail.
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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