Treasury Select Committee
looks to be pursuing an interesting strategy when it comes to reporting on its in-depth inquiry into the causes of the banking crisis.
Usually Select Committees publish single reports at the end of such inquiries with recommendations for legislative action if appropriate. What the Treasury Select Committee is doing is publishing a series of reports focussing on specific issues. The first of these
came out earlier this month and called for compensation for charities that lost money when the Icelandic banks collapsed but dismissed calls for local authorities to be similarly compensated. Why this piecemeal approach?
There seem to be two obvious answers to that question. The first is that the committee disagrees over some of the fundamental issues thrown up by the inquiry and has no hope of reaching an consensus on an all embracing overall report. The alternative explanation is that the members feel they will make more impact if they pick off the key areas of concern one-by-one. It seems this latter explanation is the more likely.
The tone of the committee's many public hearings on the banking crisis did not suggest that there were too many areas of fundamental party political disagreement over the key issues, certainly not enough to derail a report, although the huge challenge of getting agreement over all the topics that a wide-ranging report would cover shouldn't be under-estimated.I think the members have taken the view that they can make more impact and move faster by homing in on issues where they believe they can make a difference to the public and political debates.
I shall be looking out especially for the committee's response to the proposal that regulators should be able to impose restrictions on the press at times of financial crisis. I submitted a hard-hitting response to this proposal in behalf of Incisive Media which can be found on p141 of the published evidence
: this should be read in conjunction with the evidence from the Periodical Publishers' Association which is on p178 as they were written to complement each other.