Barclays and the Formula One London Grand Prix were discussed at this press briefing.
Asked if the Prime Minister (PM) had any thoughts on Bob Diamond and his responsibilities for what had happened at Barclays, the Prime Minister’s Spokeswoman (PMS) said that the PM had said that this was a serious scandal and that management had serious questions to answer about who was responsible and who was accountable and that we needed to determine that quickly.
Asked if the PM though this was a matter for the regulator rather than a criminal investigation, the PMS said that it was right that Bob Diamond should come to Parliament because there were clearly lots of important questions for him to answer in front of a Parliamentary Committee. The PMS also mentioned that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be issuing a statement later that day on the issue and that much was being done to firm up the regulatory system. This had happened during a time of light touch regulation and this government was already committed to tougher measures on regulation if required.
Asked if Bob Diamond should resign, the PMS said that the regulator had penalised Barclays but there were still some serious questions outstanding which needed answering and it was right that the Parliamentary Committee would investigate.
Asked if Bob Diamond giving up his bonus was enough, the PMS said that this was essentially a regulatory matter and the important thing going forward was that we had a regulatory regime which would ensure that this didn’t happen again.
Asked if the PM had met Bob Diamond this week or last week, the PMS said that he hadn’t.
Asked if the PM though that there was a moral angle to being head of a company such as Barclays, the PMS said that this was deeply concerning behaviour, but there were clearly some outstanding questions to be asked.
Asked if the PM agreed with the Mayor of London when he said that he didn’t want to see the pointless persecution of bankers, the PMS said that this was essentially a regulatory matter. The Financial Services Authority (FSA) had some ongoing work to do. This government was setting in train a much tougher regulatory system for banks and the Chancellor would be setting out what was being done in his statement later today.
Asked if the PM agreed with what the Vickers Commission had said about the aggressive culture that Bob Diamond had set in place being partly to blame, the PMS said that people felt strongly about the banking system and the PM was deeply concerned about what had happened.
Asked if the British people were expected to let the bankers get away with it again, the PMS said that the regulator had taken action and imposed the heaviest penalty and the government had taken action to replace the soft touch regulatory regime.
Asked if there would be any inquiry on the matter, the PMS said that the FSA was continuing its work and was pursuing a number of investigations.
Asked when the tough new regulations would come in, the PMS said that the view of Independent Commission on Banking (ICB) was that they should come into force no later than 2019. Asked if that was soon enough, the PMS said the government was legislating in this parliament for complex changes to the banking architecture.
Asked why the PM thought that Bob Diamond was a fit and proper person to run a bank, the PMS said that was a matter for the board and the regulators.
Formula One London Grand Prix
Asked for the PM’s view on the London Grand Prix, the PMS said that was a matter for the Mayor of London.