Date of Proceeding: 18.02.2008
Reference: 472 c31
Member: Lilley, Peter
Title: Northern Rock
Description: A recent study shows that Northern Rock is already repossessing more homes than any other major bank. Does the Chancellor still stand by the assurance that he gave me and the House that Northern Rock has a high-quality loan book? If he does, and if he believes that it has a lower proportion of bad debts but is repossessing more of them, will he, as its owner, tell its managers to pursue a less aggressive repossession policy, or does he intend to wash his hands of what the managers do and be the Pontius Pilate of the repossession business?
Mr. Darling: This is an example of the Tories trying to have it both ways at once. Half of them say that we should not be interfering in the running of the bank, while the other half say that we should interest ourselves in every single transaction. I have made it very clear that the operational decisions and the day-to-day management of Northern Rock have to be a matter for its management. That is absolutely right. I would just say to the right hon. Gentleman, as he was a member of the last Conservative Government, that there are repossessions today, and that is extremely unfortunate, but they are at a fraction of the level they were when he was a Minister.