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Financial Regulation

Volume 525: debated on Tuesday 22 March 2011

1. What assessment he has made of the effects on the economy of the trade in mortgage-backed securities and collateralised debt obligations. (47918)

The rapid increase in mortgage-backed securities and collateralised debt obligations contributed to a build-up of excessive and unstable levels of private debt in the UK in the years running up to the financial crisis. Although we would wish to see a properly regulated securitisation market reopened to help with lending, this must happen under a much more effective supervision regime. That is why we are abolishing the failed tripartite system and have restored to the Bank of England the responsibility for monitoring overall levels of debt in the economy. We have already established a new Financial Policy Committee to assess risks to the stability of the system, such as the emergence of excessive debt.

Although I accept the analysis in the first half of the right hon. Gentleman’s answer, I wonder whether the fact that financial services companies donated 51% of all funds to the Conservative party has led to a conflict of interests that prevents adequate regulation.

I think that I pointed out in an earlier exchange that an ex-Lehman Brothers and RBS banker contributed to the leadership campaign of the shadow Chancellor, so if the hon. Member for Sefton Central (Bill Esterson) wants to make that point again, and if you would allow, Mr Speaker, perhaps he could intervene.

Does the Chancellor agree, as I do, with the Governor of the Bank of England in asserting that if we are to avoid another banking crisis in this country, we must have a complete separation between commercial and investment banks, which of course create these collateralised debt obligations?

If my hon. Friend will allow me, I will keep my personal views on this matter private while we await the publication of the independent commission that has been set up to look at this issue, and which I, the Business Secretary and the whole House will have to consider. It is producing its interim report in April, and will produce a final report in September. Let us remember that the commission was set up by this Government to ask the difficult questions of the kind that he is asking, because we are determined not to repeat the mistakes of the past.