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Andrew Tyrie Agrees With Osborne That Eurozone Crisis Impact Is Biggest Challenge

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Tyrie told bankers until the Eurozone crisis was resolved, Britain's banks would struggle to recover
Tyrie told bankers until the Eurozone crisis was resolved, Britain's banks would struggle to recover

The UK's banking problems are right to be put into perspective with the wider Eurozone crisis, according to the Banking Commission's chairman Andrew Tyrie MP.

Speaking in more muted tones than he has recently about the banking sector, Tyrie opened his speech at the British Bankers' Association by declaring he was well aware that most employees of the banking sector were not well paid, worked hard and did not have the "stratospheric bonuses" of some of their senior peers.

He also recognised the financial services sector was Britain's most important industry "and should stay so".

And while he openly criticised elements of the industry for being "in a nutshell, not serving the economy as they should, (where) trust and standards have collapsed, it had become clear that neither banks nor the wider economy could recover until the Eurozone crisis had been addressed.

"The Eurozone crisis is the reason why banks have struggled to get back to normal lending," Tyrie said.

"The euro zone crisis is the elephant in Britain's economic room. The scope for a UK recovery will remain precarious until the euro recovery takes root.

"Restoring trust, restoration and normalisation of banking are all sides of the same coin."

Tyrie also confirmed there was little desire on the commission to "legislate in haste, repent at leisure", and therefore the commission would focus on producing ideas and resolutions for the structure of banks before Christmas, before moving onto banking standards in the new year.

Although the commission is still in the early stages of gathering evidence, one conclusion was already coming through loud and clear, Tyrie told the conference; incentives matter.

"We must be careful before rushing into more regulations or corporate governance," he said.

"I don't believe the underlying causes of the poor standards lie in the personalities of the greedy, self interested bankers - not that they deserve protection - but... (instead) they lie in the unusual features of banking which have left it insufficiently subject to regulations."

Tyrie stressed these "deep-seated" problems would not be able to be totally resolved by the Banking Commission in a matter of months, but it did plan to come up with some ideas intended to help.

Some of those ideas could include looking at a much deeper separation between the high street banks and their wholesale counterparts - one extreme view quoted was to allow high street banks to do no more than act as deposit takers and allow payments.

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