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10 Jan, 2008

Will Henley - 10-Jan-2008
Chancellor Alistair Darling today said the FSA must learn the mistakes of the Northern Rock affair, but said it must also be given additional powers to deal with future banking crises.
Speaking at the Treasury Select Committee, Darling rejected any suggestion the FSA should be dismantled and said it should be given the tools necessary to do its job.
But he acknowledged that "in retrospect the regulator should have taken more action when it saw the extent to which Northern Rock was exposed" by its business model.

He said: "The FSA has got to learn the mistakes that it made just as the rest of us have to do. But I do think it makes sense to give the FSA additional powers."

The Chancellor said the regulator may need powers along the lines of those in place in Canada and America to intervene at an earlier stage to help banking institutions that get in to trouble. He said this could even involve helping with the restructuring of an institution.

He said the essential architecture of the existing regulatory system is sound. However he envisages introducing "wide ranging" changes to existing legislation, such as the Financial Services and Markets Act and Banking Acts.

He said: "You do need to make progress to strengthen the tools at our disposal so that in the event of this sort of thing happening again we can take action and we can take it in a way that is effective."

Darling said nationalisation of Northern Rock remains an option on the table, as the government might not be able to find a private sector solution.

He offered little comfort to shareholders too, suggesting people who invested in the bank after the crisis became apparent would have been aware of the risk they were taking.<</span>

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