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View from Westminster - July 5, 2012
11:52am Friday 6th July 2012 in MP's View - Mark Garnier
News is like buses – not much goes on for weeks, then suddenly a lot goes on.
Locally, we have the hospitals review. The meeting last Saturday was well attended, and a second has been put on.
I went along last Saturday not to find out what is going – local representatives are well briefed on the plans – but to take the temperature of public mood. From chatting with attendees, there seemed to be agreement that the review is a necessary and good thing, and that no change is not a viable option. But there is concern about fewer A+E departments across Worcestershire and an acute fear of losing services at Kidderminster.
There were some technical questions on the implications of the PFI contract on the Worcester hospital, and how that will skew decisions, and how budgets are determined, but the overall impression is that we in Wyre Forest will not tolerate any further downscaling. All elected representatives are in agreement on this and we will all work to ensure that Kidderminster is safe.
On the wider, national scene, two big banking revelations have proved that no matter how bad you thought the banks could get, they can still find ways to make things worse.
The LIBOR rate fixing scandal is a highly technical issue that has implications not just on a bank by bank basis, but on a systemic level, implicating a number of organisations including the British Bankers Association, the FSA and the Bank of England. As a member of the Commons Treasury Select Committee, by the time readers scan these pages, I will have interviewed Barclays outgoing chief executive Bob Diamond and chairman Marcus Agius. The government has ordered a full committee of both Houses to look into banking standards in the light of LIBOR revelations.
The second banking scandal concerns the miss-selling of products to businesses, including ones in Wyre Forest. This is a straightforward issue of complex products being sold to individuals who are simply not equipped to understand the implications. From what I have seen, it is likely that the staff at the banks did not understand the products either. But this latest scandal reinforces the truth that bank managers are no longer your trusted financial advisor: they are salesmen peddling a product, seeking to reach sales targets at any cost.
What concerns me the most is that we are still deep in a period of mistrust, and getting deeper. It is vital that the banks do whatever they can to repair the damage and the process of investigation should act as a type of truth and reconciliation. But there is a long way to go and the gap between us as the general public and consumers, and the banks seems to be getting wider. Trust must be restored.
CONTACT YOUR MP
Email: mark.garnier.mp@ parliament.uk.
Telephone: 020 7219 7198 or 01562 746771.
Write: 9a Lower Mill Street, Kidderminster, DY11 6UU, or House of Commons, Westminster, London SW1A 0AA.
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