As is traditional in receiving the recommendations of Parliamentary commissions, most of the reaction to yesterday’s Commission on Banking Standards report involved warm noises about how thoughtful and detailed and useful its analysis was – and how it would be considered deeply, or should be implemented in full. I’m not going to tell you that. I’m going to tell you that its main headline recommendations are terrible and that no-one should go anywhere near them.
Let’s start with the idea of introducing a new criminal offence of running a bank in a “reckless manner”. Following the treatment of senior bank executives in recent years, almost no prudent and skilled person will want to run a bank – doing so means public mockery, the reneging on all the undertakings made to you about salary, bonuses, pensions, and tenure, and the likelihood that your reputation will be so destroyed that you will be toxic and unemployable thereafter. But just in case anyone hadn’t yet been put off, the Commission says you should be vulnerable to being locked up, on a political whim.