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 Nridigital.com

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Is there such a thing as responsible betting?

Punters are encouraged to bet responsibly. What a laugh that is. It’s like encouraging drunks to get drunk responsibly, to crash our cars responsibly, murder each other responsibly.

I try not to watch the commercials between matches, or the studio discussions, or anything really, before or after, except for the match itself. And yet there is one person I never manage to escape properly – Ray Winstone. His cracked face, his mesmerising voice, his endlessly repeated spiel follow me across the room as I escape for the lav, the kitchen, the drinks cupboard.

I’m not sure which betting company he is shouting about, there are just so many of them, offering incredible odds and supposedly free bets. In the past six years, since the laws changed, TV betting adverts have increased by 600 per cent, all offering amazingly simple ways to lose money with just one tap on a smartphone.

The one I hate is the ad for BetVictor. The man who has been fronting it, appearing at windows or on roofs, who I assume is Victor, is just so slimy and horrible.

Betting firms are the ultimate football parasites, second in wealth only to kit manufacturers. They have perfected the capitalist’s art of using OPM (Other People’s Money). They’re not directly involved in football – say, in training or managing – yet they make millions off the back of its popularity. Many of the firms are based offshore in Gibraltar.

Football betting is not new. In the Fifties, my job every week at five o’clock was to sit beside my father’s bed, where he lay paralysed with MS, and write down the football results as they were read out on Sports Report. I had not to breathe, make silly remarks or guess the score. By the inflection in the announcer’s voice you could tell if it was an away win.

Earlier in the week I had filled in his Treble Chance on the Littlewoods pools. The “treble” part was because you had three chances: three points if the game you picked was a score draw, two for a goalless draw and one point for a home or away win. You chose eight games and had to reach 24 points, or as near as possible, then you were in the money.

“Not a damn sausage,” my father would say every week, once I’d marked and handed him back his predictions. He never did win a sausage.

Football pools began in the 1920s, the main ones being Littlewoods and Vernons, both based in Liverpool. They gave employment to thousands of bright young women who checked the results and sang in company choirs in their spare time. Each firm spent millions on advertising. In 1935, Littlewoods flew an aeroplane over London with a banner saying: Littlewoods Above All!

Postwar, they blossomed again, taking in £50m a year. The nation stopped at five on a Saturday to hear the scores, whether they were interested in football or not, hoping to get rich. BBC Sports Report began in 1948 with John Webster reading the results. James Alexander Gordon took over in 1974 – a voice soon familiar throughout the land.

These past few decades, football pools have been left behind, old-fashioned, low-tech, replaced by online betting using smartphones. The betting industry has totally rebooted itself. You can bet while the match is still on, trying to predict who will get the next goal, the next corner, the next throw-in. I made the last one up, but in theory you can bet instantly, on anything, at any time.

The soft sell is interesting. With the old football pools, we knew it was a remote flutter, hoping to make some money. Today the ads imply that betting on football somehow enhances the experience, adds to the enjoyment, involves you in the game itself, hence they show lads all together, drinking and laughing and putting on bets.

At the same time, punters are encouraged to do it responsibly. What a laugh that is. It’s like encouraging drunks to get drunk responsibly, to crash our cars responsibly, murder each other responsibly. Responsibly and respect are now two of the most meaningless words in the football language. People have been gambling, in some form, since the beginning, watching two raindrops drip down inside the cave, lying around in Roman bathhouses playing games. All they’ve done is to change the technology. You have to respect that.

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 05 February 2015 issue of the New Statesman, Putin's war