Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Bishop of Durham to serve on Banking Standards Committee

In today's materialistic world, it is generally considered easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a bishop to serve on a parliamentary committee into Mammon. His Grace has long held that the most effective (and so most useful) politicians are those who are elected to Parliament following a few decades of experience in the real world - former doctors, nurses, soldiers, teachers, farmers and ship-builders are always going to know and understand more than those who leave Oxbridge with a first in PPE, become a special adviser, and are then sufficiently well-connected to be flown into a safe seat to begin their climb up the greasy pole.

Perhaps the same is true of clergy.

A cross-party parliamentary inquiry into the banking industry and Libor scandal has had its membership confirmed with the inclusion of the Bishop of Durham as a non-politically-aligned member from the House of Lords.

The Right Revd Justin Welby, Bishop of Durham, has been invited to sit on the commission titled the ‘Parliamentary Commission On Banking Standards’. The terms of reference set out in the motion which resulted in the commission being set-up requires it to consider and report on ‘professional standards and culture of the UK banking sector, taking account of regulatory and competition investigations into the Libor rate-setting process’ and ‘lessons to be learned about corporate governance, transparency and conflicts of interest, and their implications for regulation and for Government policy’.

The Commission will be headed-up by Andrew Tyrie MP, Chairman of the Treasury Select Committee of the House of Commons. The membership of the Commission will be drawn from across parties in both Houses of parliament with six from the Commons and five from the Lords.

Bishop Justin commented: “I am very honoured to have been invited to take part in this important enquiry, which has an impact on all of us because ethical markets are essential to a flourishing economy, and thus jobs. The work commitment is obviously going to be intense, but short-lived. Having started dealing in these markets from the oil industry side in the late 1970s, and with experience not only of LIBOR related instruments but also of a range of derivatives and many other forms of market, as well as being involved in the City of London through work on ethical investing in recent years, this is an area where I hope to be able to make a useful contribution."

Bishop Justin presently sits in the House of Lords, where he specialises in finance and economic matters. He studied Law and History at Cambridge University and then spent 11 years in the oil industry based in Paris (working for Elf) and London, working on West African (principally Nigerian) and North Sea projects. In 1984 he became Group Treasurer of Enterprise Oil plc, a large UK exploration and production company in the FTSE 100. His role included overseeing all the short and long-term financing activity of Enterprise as well as insurance. He was actively involved in the development of the derivatives markets, and their use in connection with loans and foreign exchange dealing. He also sat on the Education committee of the UK Association of Corporate Treasurers. During this time he was also a lay leader at Holy Trinity, Brompton in London.

Amongst other activities, Bishop Justin has been chairman of a National Health Service Trust general hospital. He is the Personal and Ethical Adviser to the UK Association of Corporate Treasurers, and lectures extensively on ethics and finance. He chairs the Committee of Reference for Stewardship, the ethical funds owned by Friends Life and managed by F&C plc. He has published a number of articles in English and French on issues of international finance, ethics and management and also on reconciliation.

It will be interesting to see what contribution the Bishop of Durham brings to this investigation, considering Jesus expressed a certain privilege for the poor, and tended toward the view that rich men don't easily enter heaven.


Blogger Youthpasta said...

The key thing for +Justin must be seen to be doing is making it clear that the committee is not about sweeping things under the rug, as as been suggested by Miliband and others from Labour's front bench. If it is seen to be knowledgable of the situation and that it gets the full truth on what happened it will be a start. Then we have to hope they can come up with workable suggestions that can be put into law to make sure that it doesn't happen again.

18 July 2012 at 10:10  
Blogger bluedog said...

Encouraging to learn that the Church of England can attract and retain such talent, Your Grace. One somehow doubts that certain other denominations could compete in this regard.

We can be reasonably certain that the Bishop of Durham is not on the Banking Standards committee to co-ordinate an economic boycott of Israel. Neither, one hopes, will the Bishop be tempted to advocate the introduction of Islamic finance so that the colonists feel at home and are not offended by paying interest on their loans.

In short, this is a sensible appointment. What's going on?

18 July 2012 at 10:13  
Blogger IanCad said...


I know that it is said that we mustn't judge by appearances. My experience has taught me otherwise.
He looks as if he can be trusted; I would venture that he may be a man of character and an all-round square fellow.
Now, the likes of Cameron, Blair, Brown and, to a lesser extent, Miliband can offer no such confidence by virtue of their features. Two-faced, insipid, jaded and remote. All seem to have either a combination or the sum total of these traits.

18 July 2012 at 11:04  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

I say Your Grace, this Welby chappie looks and reads just the ticket !

Definitely an Anglican priest of the old guard, which unfortunately makes him as rare as hen’s teeth today, mores the pity.

The Inspector’s best wishes to you Sir, as you sort out the den of thieves our financial services people have apparently become. Suggest you bring with you mallet and wooden stake. You will meet the Devil’s disciples in your work, that’s for sure…

18 July 2012 at 11:47  
Blogger Paul Twigg said...

Let's forget for a moment that usurious lending is prohibited by the Bible .

The bank bailout was the largest case of crony capitalism ever witnessed in Britain.

We are still paying for the foolishness of Gordon Brown's economic policy and the desire of city types to keep the bonus gravy train (now backstopped by us the taxpayer) going.

After the trillions have been printed we still have zombie banks, but with the added bonus of longer dole lines, resulting in higher social security costs, higher inflation, higher debt and a longer recession whilst proper companies (i.e. those SME's that are the bed rock of UK Plc) are NOT getting the cash they need for business ventures and investment.

The committee/investigation is, in short, 4 years too late.

18 July 2012 at 12:19  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Appointing a man who apparently knows what he's talking about to a parliamentary committee?

Shome mishtake shurley...

18 July 2012 at 12:32  
Blogger Albert said...

The fact that he is able to bring that financial experience together with the day to day experience of being at the heart of local community (none too wealthy in Durham, one imagines),as well as a background in some kind of ethical formation, indicates the value of having bishops in the House of Lords.

18 July 2012 at 15:31  
Blogger non mouse said...

Your Grace: this is quite a turnup... not only for the books, but from the Book! Somebody, somewhere, seems to understand the trope of "Redemption."

May God be with him, so help us all.

18 July 2012 at 17:27  
Blogger John Henson said...

No doubt it's very good that the Church of England has a bishop with experience in the city.

Pity it doesn't have a few bishops with worthwhile experience of working in a parish propagating the Gospel of Christ.

18 July 2012 at 20:19  
Blogger Naomi King said...

Sounds an excellent appointment, well done that man.

Your Grace, on your observation that you prefer politicians who have real life experience a friend of mine's cousin is married to a Tory MP and I have learnt (rather hearsay I'm afraid) that he is the ONLY MP in the House of Commons at the present time with experience of international business at a high level, from either side of the House. This is the direct consequence of all politicians being "career politicians" nowadays.

One does wonder how our MP's can run the country and particularly the economy when they have NO experience of running anything ! Frightening isn't it ?

18 July 2012 at 21:06  
Blogger bluedog said...

Precisely, Naomi @ 21.06.

A bloke like Dave whose core competency is telling lies (Public Relations), can suddenly become absolute ruler (no restraint in the HoL) of a nuclear power with a globally significant economy.

No wonder his early steps in the fields of defence and international relations were close to catastrophic. Witness the scrapping of all aircraft carriers just before the chest beating intrusion in Libya. Certainly in the area of defence, not much has improved.

The current plan to emasculate the army and rely on 30,000 non-existent members of the TA is pure fantasy.

18 July 2012 at 21:28  
Blogger Anna Albion said...

Hi Blue dog,

You sound just like my uncle!

As Cameron has all but castrated our armed forces, it will be down to you and me to defend Britain if she is ever attacked again(my uncle says he can take down ten Germans himself, although I doubt that, as he is 89 and wheelchair bound- and I have to remind him every so often we aren't fighting the Germans anymore).

As for me there is no way this proud Jewish & gay daughter of Albion will EVER give up England without a fight!

18 July 2012 at 21:48  
Blogger bluedog said...

Sounds good, Anna. You go first and I'll keep a good look out from the trenches in case they try to take us from the rear. You know what it's like these days.

18 July 2012 at 23:11  
Blogger Anna Albion said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

18 July 2012 at 23:21  
Blogger Anna Albion said...

Hi Mr Blue Dog,

I don't think anyone is going to want to take you from the rear. I can sword fight and fence reasonably and I've got a few martial arts techniques too for awkward situations (like when some-one tried to grope my sister's bum last week).

18 July 2012 at 23:24  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Completely off topic.

Last night, I stumbled across a recorded EPL match between Tottenham and Liverpool. (Tottenham won 2-1 with a goal in stoppage time) Tonight I am watching the MLS. It occurs to me the MLS is playing a different game. Now, I admit I know less than nothing about soccer, but the object of the game played by the MLS seems to be ... shall we say ... different. The typical MLS player seems most interested to kick the ball into some open part of the field so his opponent can run and get it. And if by chance he manages to move the ball close to his opponent's goal, he slows down and waits for a defender to stand two feet in front of him. Then he kicks the ball off of the defender's shin and watches it bounce to midfield.

Do I have that about right? Perhaps some of you more enlightened viewers could explain this discrepancy to me.


19 July 2012 at 04:16  
Blogger Naomi King said...


"A bloke like Dave whose core competency is telling lies (Public Relations)..." @21.28

From reading Cameron's biography he does not have much integrity in the emotional stakes either, a string of rather sordid and grubby affairs before he married. It looks like he was waiting for the financial jackpot of the daughter of Lady Astor maybe ?

Would a fornicator of convenience be a suitable man to have the safety of marriage, and therefore of society, resting in his hands ?

He being an "absolute ruler (no restraint in the HoL) of a nuclear power with a globally significant economy" to quote Bluedog again.

19 July 2012 at 08:05  
Blogger Daniel Wright said...

Something else about +Justin? He's an Old Etonian... ;)

19 July 2012 at 08:43  
Blogger bluedog said...

Hmm, Naomi @ 08.05, this communicant is not sure money looms large in Dave's calculus.

His late father was a successful stockbroker during the City's Big Bang period. Dave's dad may have hit the jackpot when banks and foreign investment banks were falling over themselves to get hold of broker client lists full of high net worth investors. Samantha Sheffield would have been comfortably off but does not seem to be an heiress despite the Astor connection.

There is also anecdotal evidence that the British tax system has cut the Astors down to size financially. For example, they seem to have sold a lease over Cliveden in 1984 and it is now an hotel. Hever Castle was sold in 1983 after purchase in 1903, a tenure of only eighty years.

The previous owners of Hever Castle were descended from both the Boleyns and his late majesty King Edward III. The Boleyns are of course very relevant to His Grace's blog. Without Boleyn patronage, Cranmer would not have become Archbishop of Canterbury. In a sense Hever Castle had remained in the same family since 1462, a tenure of four hundred and forty-one years. The Hever Castle guide book is silent on this fact and a visitor might think that the Astors had built the castle.

After a stay at Cliveden in 1936 during the Astor regime, the noted diarist Harold Nicholson observed, 'There is a ghastly unreality about it all ... I enjoy seeing it. But to own it, to live here, would be like living on the stage of the Scala theatre in Milan.'

Be a kind girl, Naomi, and pour kitty a saucer of milk.

19 July 2012 at 09:55  
Blogger Naomi King said...

Be a kind girl, Naomi, and pour kitty a saucer of milk ?

But interesting information about the Camerons and the Astors.

19 July 2012 at 13:26  
Blogger bluedog said...

His Grace's comment on the topic of Banking Standards assumes new importance in view of the attack on the City of London by Tim Geithner, Cappo di tutti Cappo of the US Federal Reserve system. A further piece by Fraser Nelson in the DT highlights the threat to the City and consequently UK tax receipts of Geithner's attack.

There is no more fearome sight than a Yankee Puritan under full sail with the wind of populist opinion behind him. So it is with Tim Geithner, a former alumnus of Goldman Sachs, who may have propered mightily when the GS partnership was incorporated and listed on the NYSE in 2000.

That year was exactly one year after Bill Clinton had repealed both US Glass-Steagall Acts in a move designed to win the support of the financial establishment in the US. It was also a grossly irresponsible move as it enabled all US banks to become investment banks and lead to an expolsion of credit creation. Such was the growth of the US monetary aggregates that by 2006 the US Federal Reserve had stopped publishing the figures for US money supply as defined by M3. Why? Because the chart trend was very slightly below vertical, not a good look. The global financial crisis followed almost immediately afterwards with the failure of Bear Stearns in 2007 and the collapse of Lehman Bros in 2008.

The US has yet to re-introduce the Glass-Steagall Acts, which to his credit, Sir Mervyn King has recently proposed for the UK. King is recommending separation of retail and commercial banking from the banks' own proprietory trading. The US is doing something similar but not to the extent of Glass-Steagall.

It is therefore truly hypocritical for Geithner to try to hi-jack the Libor debate and declare the City not fit for purpose.

Shades of Lend Lease when the abolition of Imperial Preferences was a condition precedent for continued US support of the British war effort.

19 July 2012 at 23:39  

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