Daily Archives: January 11, 2011

Jim Pickard

Lots of speculation about whether there will be a by-election in Barnsley Central after MP Eric Illsley pleaded guilty to false accounting. He is currently suspended from Labour and will be sentenced in a month or so.

The curious twist is that if his sentence is under a year he can in theory remain an MP for the constituency. For obvious reasons Ed Miliband and his advisers are desperate to ensure this doesn’t occur. Read more

Jim Pickard

Back in December this blog took a highly sceptical approach to Nick Clegg’s threat to crack down on big bank bonuses. The next day we revealed that the coalition had in Europe been urging the EU to resist calls to strengthen an existing G20 agreement on bonuses.

Now the consensus is that – short of a sudden U-turn – banks are going ahead with their original plans. Read more

Jim Pickard

It was rather controversial a couple of years ago when Digby Jones took a peerage and became a Labour minister – but did not join the Labour party. He did eventually take the Labour whip.

Now it transpires that Lord (Stephen) Green, former chairman of HSBC, has made a similar decision to remain above the political fray, at least to an extent. Read more

Jim Pickard

This is the point at which I have to wrap up and go for lunch I’m afraid. Here is a link to the live player on the Commons website in case the committee keeps going for a while.

To recap some of the most important points which will provide tomorrow’s headlines:

* Diamond said that the “period of remorse and apology” for banks needs to be over and the City should be allowed to move on.

* He said banks should be “allowed to fail” and that taxpayer-funded bailouts were unacceptable.

* He said he was committed to being responsible on bonuses, though bonuses at Barclays have not yet been set and therefore he couldn’t possibly comment on this year’s round.

* He defended Barclays shareholders from the suggestion that they are “uninformed”, given that they aren’t given a chance to discuss bonus payments before they are paid.

* He claimed not to know how many Barclays subsidiaries are offshore (although Chuka Umunna suggested it was over 300). Nor did he know how much of the tax paid by the bank was via its payroll.

* He reminded MPs that there was an inherent contradiction between being asked to behave responsibly – while being asked to lend more and more by politicians.

12.15: Diamond is asked by Andrew Tyrie whether matters would improve if executives had more skin in the game via unlimited liabilities. Unsurprisingly, this prospect is not very tantalising to the Barclays chief executive.

He cites the example of Stephen Hester, the highly-regarded new head of RBS. Would he have taken that job if he had unlimited liabilities? Ditto the new chief executive of Lloyds Banking Group, Antonio Horta-Osorio.

12.09: Andrea Leadsom, the MP who used to work for BZW, says Diamond has been talking in “fantasy” speak. Read more