Five questions answered on the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standard’s report

What does it say about banking culture?

The Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, set up by Chancellor George Osborne, has today released a report on the banking system. We answer five questions on the reports recommendation.

What are the main findings of the report?

The fifth report from the commission, which was established last year in response to a number of scandals involving the banking industry, recommended that senior bankers guilty of reckless misconduct should be jailed.

It also lambasted the lack of accountability of bankers and recommended that some bonuses should be withheld for up to 10 years.

"Senior executives were aware that they would not be punished for what they could not see and promptly donned the blindfolds.

"Where they could not claim ignorance, they fell back on the claim that everyone was party to a decision, so that no individual could be held squarely to blame - the Murder on the Orient Express defence," the report said.

What other recommendations does the report make?

It called on the government to review alternatives for selling off the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and said there should be more action to make the banking market more competitive.

Other recommendations were that banks should be legally required to put financial safety ahead of shareholder interests.

 Senior bankers should be assigned clear personal responsibilities, with the legal onus on them to show they have done all that is reasonably required.

Deferred pay and pension rights should also be cancellable if a banker misbehaves, or - in the case of senior managers - if the bank has to be bailed out.

Did the report say anything about banking culture?

Yes. It suggested banks should publish their gender ratios and take action when there is an imbalance. It attacked the male-dominated culture on trading floors.

It also said there should be an independent code of conduct for bankers and more needs to be done to change banking culture.

What has the government said about the report?

The called it an "impressive piece of work" and have vowed to respond to the report before the summer recess.

A spokesperson speaking to the BBC also said:

"Where legislation is needed, we have said we will support it, and the banking bill currently before Parliament can be amended to ensure they are quickly enacted.”

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Oakeshott, also told the BBC: "Why are there no banged-up bankers? That's what most people want to know after the last five years of scandals and shame."

What have representatives of the banking industry said?

Former RBS chairman and chief executive Sir George Mathewson told the BBC his opinion on the recommendation to defer bonuses for up to 10 years:

"I find that a little strange. If you are going to have bonuses, they are to incentivise behaviours. Ten years out is not an easy way to imagine incentivisation occurring."

Photograph: Getty Images

Heidi Vella is a features writer for

Photo: Getty Images/Richard Stonehouse
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Here's how Jeremy Corbyn can win back the Midlands

The Midlands is where elections are decided - and where Jeremy Corbyn can win. 

The Midlands: this “formless” place is where much of Labour’s fate lies. The party witnessed some of its most disappointing 2015 results here. In those early, depressing hours of 8 May, Nuneaton was the result that rang the death knell of Labour’s election chances. Burton, Cannock Chase, Halesowen & Rowley Regis, Redditch and Telford weren’t far behind. To win here Labour need to build a grassroots movement that engages swing voters.

Luckily, this is also a place with which Labour’s new leader has a natural affinity. The bellwether seat of Nuneaton is where Jeremy Corbyn chose to hold his last regional rally of the leadership contest; just a couple of counties over you’ll find the home Corbyn moved to in Shropshire when he was seven. He cut his political teeth round the corner in marginal constituency The Wrekin; it was in this key seat he did his first stint of campaigning. Flanked by a deputy leader, Tom Watson, who represents Labour stronghold West Bromwich East, Corbyn has his eye on the Midlands.

As MP for Islington North since 1983, Labour’s leader has earned London-centric credentials that have long since overshadowed his upbringing. But Corbynism isn’t a phenomenon confined to the capital. The enthusiasm that spilled out of Corbyn’s summer leadership rallies across the country has continued into the autumn months; Labour’s membership is now over 370,000. It’s fast catching up with 1997 figures, which are the highest in the party’s recent history.

London is the biggest beneficiary of this new movement - with 20 per cent of Labour’s members and 19 per cent of new members who signed up the week before conference coming from the capital. But Corbynism is flourishing elsewhere. 11 per cent of all Labour party members now reside in the southeast. In that same pre-conference week 14 per cent of new members came from this mostly Tory blue area of the country. And since last year, membership in the southwest increased by 124 per cent. Not all, but a good deal of this, is down to Corbyn’s brand of anti-austerity politics.

A dramatic rise in membership, with a decent regional spread, is nothing to be sneered at; people are what you need to create an election-winning grassroots movement. But, as May proved, having more members than your opposition doesn’t guarantee victory. Corbyn has spoken to many who’d lost faith in the political system but more people need to be won over to his cause.  

This is clear in the Midlands, where the party’s challenges are big. Labour’s membership is swelling here too, but to a lesser degree than elsewhere. 32 per cent of party members now and 13 per cent of those who joined up in seven days preceding conference hail from this part of the country.

But not all potential Labour voters will become card-carrying members. Corbyn needs to speak to swing voters. These people have no party colours and over the summer they had mixed views on Corbynism. In Nuneaton, Newsnight found a former Labour turned Ukip voter who thought Corbyn would take Labour “backwards” and put the economy at risk. But a fellow Ukip voter said he saw Corbyn as “fresh blood”.

These are enduring splits countrywide. Voters in key London marginal Croydon Central gave a mixed verdict on Corbyn’s conference speech. They thought he was genuine but were worried about his economic credibility. While they have significant doubts, swing voters are still figuring out who Labour’s new leader is.

This is where the grassroots movement comes into play. Part of the challenge is to get out there and explain to these people exactly who the party is, what it’s going to offer them and how it’s going to empower them to make change. 

Labour have nascent plans to make this reality in the Midlands. Tom Watson advocated bringing back to life this former industrial heartland by making it a base for manufacturing once again – hopefully based on modern skills and technologies.  He’s also said the leadership team will make regular regional visits to key seats. Watson’s words chime with plans floated by shadow minister Jon Trickett: to engage people with citizens’ assemblies where they have a say over Labour politics.

But meetings alone don’t make grassroots movements. Alongside the economy, regional identity is a decisive issue in this – and other – area(s) of the country. With the influx in money brought in by new members, Labour should harness peoples’ desire for belonging, get into communities and fill the gaps the Government are leaving empty. While they’re doing this, they could spread the word of a proper plan for devolution, harking back to the days of municipal socialism, so people know they’ll have power over their own communities under Labour.

This has to start now, and there’s no reason why the Midlands can’t act as a model. Labour can engage with swing voters by getting down to a community level and start showing – and not just saying –  how the party can make a difference. 

Maya Goodfellow is a freelance journalist.