Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Andrew Tyrie is not up to chairing a banking inquiry

There was a feature of Bob Diamond's appearance before the Treasury select committee that said much about the authority and judgement of its chairman Andrew Tyrie.

Diamond addressed MPs by their first names throughout. I would have bridled at that when I was a young district councillor. Why middle-aged MPs put up with it, I cannot imagine. Tyrie should certainly have stepped in early to stop him doing it.

His failure to do so was damaging because he and his committee were on trial. The government wishes the committee to conduct the inquiry into banking rather than a judge. According to Sue Cameron on the Daily Telegraph website:
Word is that it was Mr Tyrie who went to Mr Osborne suggesting a select committee inquiry. “Everyone is wondering what the implications will be,” said one Westminster insider. “Virtually nobody thinks it’s a good idea apart from Tyrie and Osborne – and Osborne doesn’t understand Parliament.
By failing to curb Diamond's overfamiliarity Tyrie at once made himself look weak and, as a Conservative, too close to the bankers.

My own view remains that there should be a judicial inquiry into banking and I am sorry that Liberal Democrat MPs have not taken this line. Certainly, although John Mann and John Thurso made a reasonable fist of it, most select committee members suggested they lack the skills to question witnesses effectively when those witnesses are not inclined to be forthcoming.

Not that they or Andrew Tyrie are alone in being a limited performers. This morning the Today programme introduced Lord McFall as some sort of hero of the banking crisis. In fact, as John McFall, he was a worse chair of the Treasury select committee than Andrew Tyrie.

I fear the moral is that our MPs, like our bankers, are just not very good at their jobs.

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