Mr Speaker, once again can I thank the Chancellor for his statement.
Given that the banking system has been on the verge of collapse, he had little option but to step in and rescue the banks.
We said recapitalisation might be necessary and we continue to offer to work constructively with the government on solving this financial crisis and on the Banking Bill tomorrow.
But of course the scale of this rescue is only just starting to dawn on the British people.
This is the biggest bail out in the world so far.
Paid for by the biggest increase in debt by any peacetime government.
Funded by the £11,000 of extra borrowing that will now be heaped on every family in the country.
And so the British people are in no mood to celebrate.
They want to know how their taxpayers’ money is going to be protected, how quickly they can get it back – and how on earth they ended up footing the bill for this painful end to the age of irresponsibility.
First, on the details of the deal.
Can I ask the Chancellor why, over the last week, he seems to have has gone from favouring taking preference stock to deciding also to take huge ordinary share stakes in some banks?
I know that last week he told us that underwriting share issues was something he was “prepared to consider”.
But why has that now become the main option and what is his realist assessment of how much of that shareholder offering will be taking up by existing shareholders and other private investors?
Could he confirm that the preference shares do not seem to come with warrants to give taxpayers more of the upside?
The Chancellor has also rethought his position on taking seats on the boards of the banks which we now part own.
Last week he told the House that “in relation to Government nominees sitting in boardrooms, I never thought that a particularly useful course of action to follow”.
Now he has just told us he is appointing five members to two different bank boards.
Why does he now believe that is now a ‘useful course of action’?
I happen to agree with him but I want to know why he didn’t agree with himself a week ago.
On the question of bonuses, I welcome the Prime Minister’s statement that senior bank executives will not get cash bonuses.
Last week he dismissed the Leader of the Opposition’s demands on this, but now he appears to agree with him.
However, can I press him on bonuses paid in stock which he talked about. This will be an important matter of debate over the next year or so.
Given that two thirds of the bonuses paid to the RBS Chief Executive last year were in shares not cash, would it be the case that that kind of arrangement would still be possible under the terms he has set out?
Of course, as we said last week the purpose of rescuing the banks is so that we rescue the economy.
That means getting small business loans extended and getting families the re-mortgages they need – but it must not mean, of course, a return to irresponsible lending.
He didn’t say much about the lending conditions in his statement but he did say this morning that the banks have agreed to keep the availability of loans to homeowners and small businesses at 2007 levels.
What exactly does he mean by availability in this context, given that RBS today said it would accelerate the de-leveraging and the Council of Mortgage Lenders say today that a return to 2007 levels would be neither ‘prudent or desirable’?
Finally, has the Chancellor had time to reflect on how a decade of government economic policies have led us to this massive bail out?
The Prime Minister said today that in future “you have got to lay aside more for the possibility that there will be contractions”.
Is that another way of saying that he should have fixed the roof when the sun was shining?
Is the Chancellor being straight with people about the potential risks to the public purse? He says in effect he wants to suspend the borrowing rules and fiddle the figures so that these huge additional debts are not counted on the balance sheet.
What sort of example is that setting the rest of the economy? And will the Office of National Statistics agree with his decision not to count it as national debt?
The Chairman of the FSA, Adair Turner gave us his candid views on the lunchtime news.
He said “many lessons have to be learned over what has gone on in the last ten years … we probably allowed a boom to go on for too long”.
Britain knows exactly who is to blame for that.
So we will support today’s actions because faced with the collapse of the banking system the government had no other option.
But this is no moment of triumph for the government.
For it is the British people who have now been landed with the bill for the boom that turned to bust.