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Westminster body to visit Stormont over banking crisis

Published 02/03/2009

The Treasury Select Committee is visiting Stormont today as part of its inquiry into the banking crisis.

The MPs will be meeting members of the public, consumer representatives and members of the Assembly Enterprise and Finance Committees.

DUP Strangford MLA Simon Hamilton, vice chairman of the Finance Committee, welcomed the visit.

He said it was good to see the committee had made Stormont a stop in their investigation into the cause and affects of the ongoing crisis in the banking sector.

"Whilst responsibility for our financial institutions rest at our national parliament in Westminster, the problems caused by the virtual collapse in the banking system has adversely impacted upon every part of the kingdom including Northern Ireland," said Mr Hamilton.

As someone who had spoken to countless individuals and members of the local business community who complained bitterly about the behaviour of their banks, he warmly welcomed the opportunity to put those frustrations, face to face, to MPs investigation the banking crisis, he added.

"I will take the chance to tell the Treasury Select Committee that, after having been recapitalised with billions of pounds of taxpayers money, there remains little evidence of an increase in lending by many banks.

"With some banks now in the ownership of the public purse, they have a duty to do more to get our economy going again. We all remain bewildered by the fact that bank interest rates and arrangement fees seem to be unnecessarily high," said Mr Hamilton.

He added: "There is nothing to be gained from another bout of bank bashing but ensuring that the Treasury Select Committee see and hear for themselves that Northern Ireland’s economy has been negatively affected by what the banks have done and have not done is an important part of their inquiry,"

The banks would play a pivotal role in revitalising the economy, so seeking a resolution rather than retribution should be the ultimate aim of the inquiry, he said.

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