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Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards

27 July 2012

The Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards was established, at the request of the leaders of all three main parties, by the passing of motions in the House of Commons on 16 July and the House of Lords on 17 July.

The terms of reference of the Commission are to consider and report on:

a) professional standards and culture of the UK banking sector, taking account of regulatory and competition investigations into the LIBOR rate-setting process;

b) lessons to be learned about corporate governance, transparency and conflicts of interest, and their implications for regulation and for Government policy;

and to make recommendations for legislative and other action.

The Commission, which held its first formal meeting on 24 July, has been asked to report on proposals for legislative action no later than 18 December 2012 and on other matters as soon as possible thereafter. These tight deadlines mean that the Commission requests responses to this initial call for evidence as soon as possible, preferably by Friday 24 August. Further requests for written evidence may follow as the Commission’s work evolves.

The Commission would welcome responses to the following initial questions:

1.   To what extent are professional standards in UK banking absent or defective? How does this compare to (a) other leading markets (b) other professions and (c) the historic experience of the UK and its place in global markets?

2.   What have been the consequences of the above for (a) consumers, both retail and wholesale, and (b) the economy as a whole?

3.   What have been the consequences of any problems identified in question 1 for public trust and in, and expectations of, the banking sector?

4.   What caused any problems in banking standards identified in question 1? The Commission requests that respondents consider (a) the following general themes:

  • the culture of banking, including the incentivisation of risk-taking;
  • the impact of globalisation on standards and culture;
  • global regulatory arbitrage;
  • the impact of financial innovation on standards and culture;
  • the impact of technological developments on standards and culture;
  • corporate structure, including the relationship between retail and investment banking;
  • the level and effectiveness of competition in both retail and wholesale markets, domestically and internationally, and its effects;
  • taxation, including the differences in treatment of debt and equity; and
  • other themes not included above;

and (b) weaknesses in the following somewhat more specific areas:

  • the role of shareholders, and particularly institutional shareholders;
  • creditor discipline and incentives;
  • corporate governance, including
      - the role of non-executive directors
      - the compliance function
      - internal audit and controls
      - remuneration incentives at all levels;
  • recruitment and retention;
  • arrangements for whistle-blowing;
  • external audit and accounting standards;
  • the regulatory and supervisory approach, culture and accountability;
  • the corporate legal framework and general criminal law; and
  • other areas not included above.

5.   What can and should be done to address any weaknesses identified? To what extent are such weaknesses subject to remedial corporate, regulatory or legislative action, domestically or internationally?

6.   Are the changes already proposed by (a) the Government, (b) regulators and (c) the industry sufficient? Respondents may wish to refer to the Financial Services Bill and the Government's proposals for the Banking Reform Bill.  They may also wish to refer to proposals by the Bank of England and the Financial Services Authority on how the Financial Policy Committee, Prudential Regulation Authority and Financial Conduct Authority will operate in practice.

7.   What other matters should the Commission take into account?

Please note

Each submission should:

  • clearly state at  the top which individual’s or organisation’s views the submission represents (which may be different from the particular person who sends it)
  • begin with a short summary in bullet point form;
  • have numbered paragraphs; and
  • be in Word format with as little use of colour or logos as possible.

A copy of the submission should be sent by e-mail to and marked “Banking Standards inquiry”.  There is no need to send a hardcopy.

It would be helpful, for Data Protection purposes, if individuals submitting  written evidence send their contact details separately in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the Commission will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

A guide for written submissions to Select Committees may be found on the parliamentary website:

Please also note that:

  • Material already published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within a proposed memorandum, in which case a hard copy of the published work should be included.
  • Memoranda submitted must be kept confidential until published by the Commission, unless publication by the person or organization submitting it is specifically authorised.
  • Once submitted, evidence is the property of the Commission. The Commission will normally, though not always, choose to make public the written evidence it receives, by publishing it on the internet (where it will be searchable), by printing it or by making it available through the Parliamentary Archives.  If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure. The Commission will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.

Further information