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I hope that I have managed to cover the main points raised by noble Lords. If there are any that I have failed to cover, I will be more than happy to write with a full and complete explanation to those who have taken part in today’s debate. In the circumstances, I hope that the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, will feel able to withdraw the Motion.

Viscount Eccles: My Lords, I thank those noble Lords who have participated. I hope that my noble friend Lord Howard considers that his question has been answered; no doubt if he did not, he would be able to look after himself.

My noble friend Lord James has expertise in workouts. In that part of what he said, he was really saying that confidence was more damaged by the way in which the Bradford & Bingley problems were dealt with than it would have been if it had been allowed to go into a conventional workout, given the fact that the depositors were, in the great main, guaranteed under the guarantee scheme. I think he was telling us that that would not have cost as much money in the long run. Indeed, we are still very short of any idea of how much this exercise is going to cost the taxpayer.



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I am very grateful for the detailed exposition given by the Minister, which was part of my intention in holding the debate. We are going to be in a state of some disagreement, talking as a member of the Merits Committee, as to how much of that explanation could have perfectly properly been in the Explanatory Memorandum and the regulatory impact assessment. I venture to suggest to the Minister that the Treasury is a minimalist department in the matters of explanation and justification. Quite a lot of things could have been in there that would not have prejudiced any of the things that the Minister mentioned. Indeed, it is quite possible that public confidence would have been improved, rather than the reverse.

I have three points. I got the impression from the Minister’s statement that we may not be in run-off, because a business plan for a run-off is a totally different matter from a business plan for, if I may mention them, Marks & Spencer or Courtaulds Textiles, of which I was chairman, which was Marks & Spencer’s largest supplier of clothing. We had to have a rather detailed business plan to live with Sir Richard Greenbury, who was the chairman at the time. A run-off of a mortgage book is not a very complicated matter. I have been responsible for mortgage finance companies in places as far apart as Hong Kong and Nairobi, and it is really not a complicated matter. If we are not going to be in run-off with Bradford & Bingley, that is a different matter.

Finally, I appreciated the Minister’s explanation, but I did not really get to know whether it was the Government’s view that this was a serious or systemic threat to the stability of the United Kingdom financial system. Given everything else that was going on, and given the lack of confidence in Bradford & Bingley that the market had expressed all through the summer—it did not just come in September; it had been ongoing for quite a long time—was this really the right way to deal with the matter? I suppose it is always possible that someone will test the proposition and seek evidence to try to determine whether there really was a serious threat on 27 September. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Royal Assent

2.23 pm

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Colwyn): My Lords, I have to notify the House, in accordance with the Royal Assent Act 1967, that the Queen has signified her Royal Assent to the following Acts:

Planning and Energy Act 2008,

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008,Children and Young Persons Act 2008,Employment Act 2008.
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