Welby: We are in long depression
Britain has had "quite a long time" below the economic activity levels of 2007, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.
The Rt Rev Justin Welby, who took over the role last month, returned to the theme of the country's financial woes in a radio interview following his warning on Monday that Britain is in an economic depression and could take a generation to recover.
He said then that it would take something "very major" to restore confidence and drag the country out of the mire. He suggested the Government may need to recapitalise at least one major bank, and urged the creation of regional banks.
Asked on BBC Radio 4's The Week in Westminster whether he minded ruffling a few feathers, he said: "I don't know if it annoyed people in Number 10. They haven't said anything here. I mean they probably would have preferred it not said.
"Historically depressions have been recognised as lengthy periods in which the economy did not get back to its previous level of activity before a recession set in. So 1929 to 1932 is the great example. There was a big one towards the end of the 19th century.
"We are still significantly below where we were in 2007 in terms of economic activity, of GDP, and that's quite a long time of being below.
"Now, I'm not pointing any fingers at anyone in particular and saying it's so and so's fault or so and so's fault, it's simply a measurable fact coming from the national statistics. "It's very much less noticeable in London, I have to say, than in the North East where I was living previously. Do I mind ruffling feathers? I think I do mind ruffling feathers, I don't like ruffling feathers - but sometimes feathers get ruffled. I mean that's life."
George Parker, political editor of the Financial Times, asked during the interview whether the Archbishop saw it as part of his mission to try to inject more morality into British financial life.
He said: "My key mission is to lead the church in worshipping Jesus Christ and encouraging people to believe in him and follow him. That's my mission.
"The Christian gospel has always had strong social implications and one of them is around the common good and it's one of the key areas in which the Church of England focuses, and so issues of how the City of London, which is so important and so full of very gifted people, how that behaves in relation to the common good is very key, not to the whole thing that I'm about or the church is about, but to how we express the implications of that in day to day life."