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Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme

Volume 592: debated on Thursday 12 February 2015

The enterprise finance guarantee is an important part of our support for viable businesses looking to get access to finance where they do not have sufficient collateral or a track record. We regularly review its performance and have found that by increasing access to finance it helps jobs and growth.

For over a year, I have written and tabled parliamentary questions asking for a review of the scheme. On 14 January, the Secretary of State met RBS. On 15 January, RBS announced a review of its scheme. Given that it controls about 40% of the enterprise finance guarantee scheme, that it is calling for a review and is looking at the matter internally, is it not about time that the Minister did that himself?

We constantly review the scheme to ensure that we get the best possible deal. The majority of the enterprise finance guarantee goes through other banks, which, as far as we know, are performing impeccably. On the RBS aspect, we have met RBS to discuss that. It is reviewing the matter, and we will make sure that it works in the future. The big picture is that the scheme is working well and helping small firms to access finance.

Following a year of my right hon. Friend the Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson) raising this issue, RBS has admitted that there has been mis-selling of the EFG scheme.

Rebuilding confidence in our banking sector will be one of the key tasks facing the next Labour Government. From interest rate swaps to tax evasion and now mis-selling of EFG loans, the Government have been slow to act and slow to investigate whether there are problems. Does the Minister now accept that only through investigating and repairing mis-selling in Britain’s high street banks will confidence in the sector return?

The hon. Gentleman has a bit of a cheek, because the investigation required, and the sorting out of confidence in banks, was an enormous issue that we had to take on in 2010. We have regulated and passed legislation throughout this Parliament to ensure that there is more confidence in the banking industry. Of course, there is more to do, but considering how far we have come over the last five years, the hon. Gentleman ought to be saying we have done a good job and be helping us to do that.