Local problems with the banks

This week one correspondent asked if all the work I was doing on national and international issues on the economy was getting in the way of being a good  local MP for Wokingham. It was a very strange intervention, as the state of the UK and EU economies are crucial to the living standards of my constituents, the fortunes of local businesses and to the quality of life generally.  An MP has no power to decide local planning applications, to re-order local highways, settle local social service provision, fix the level of the Council Tax  or allocate places to local schools, all matters of great concern to many constituents. We elect Councillors in Wokingham Borough and West Berkshire to do this for us, and they do not usually appreciate an MP trying to do their job for them by offering them  public advice.

 

MPs are elected to help shape national laws that affect all in every constuency, to challenge the national government on the services it delivers and the taxes it raises, to help governments decide budgets, war and peace, general approach to the NHS,  foreign policy and the rest. Most of my constituents understand this distinction between the role of an MP and the role of a Councillor, and keep me very busy with emails and letters on a wide range of national and Parliamentary matters.

This week a couple of cases that matter a lot to constituents illustrate the importance of national economic issues to Wokingham, and show how an MP working on national problems is also working for his constituents on local manifestations of the national problem. A couple of cases have added to my list of those who are either being pushed by their bank to renegotiate their business loans and pay more, or being denied access to commercial mortgage credit which they need for a good purpose.

 

I have regularly raised the state of the banks with Ministers, in Parliamentary debates and on my website. The government has now accepted the need for a credit easing scheme. My own constituency experience will enable me to return to Ministers next week with requests that more is done, as it is quite clear that Project Merlin and Credit Easing so far have not solved the problems. These were themselves government responses to the points I and other MPs made about the problems in our constituencies.  The strength of the UK one member constituency system stems from how an   MP has direct constituency experience of what is working and what is not, which can help guide how we spend our time and which causes we campaign on. It gives us live examples to share with Minsiters to back up the case we are making.

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10 Comments

  1. Paul Danon
    Posted April 13, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    MPs aren’t mayors; they’re not a branch of local government nor are they government’s ambassadors to their constituencies. They shouldn’t be citizens’ advice bureaux either. We in Vauxhall send Kate Hoey across the river to advance our interests on the national stage, with the whole country’s interests also at heart. The best that John can do for Wokingham is somehow save our economy from collapse, and from the consequent social disorder.

    • Nick
      Posted April 13, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

      The best that John can do for Wokingham is somehow save our economy from collapse, and from the consequent social disorder.

      ============

      He can’t

      Primarily because the debts run up by government, and hidden off the books are too large.

      Secondly, because like most MPs he won’t admit to them or quantify them. The reason being that it would be admitting to the inevitable.

      Of course John could surprise me and do what he promised prior to the election, and publish the present values of all the debts. That is the start of a proper debate as to what to do. Sticking your head in the sand and pretending they don’t exist means you are just part of the problem.

      http://www.taxpayersalliance.com/home/2012/04/research-54-billion-black-hole-council-pension-schemes-revealed.html

      Here is another debt hidden off the books. 54 billion in this case.

    • Catherine in Athens
      Posted April 13, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

      Spot on, Paul.

      • alan jutson
        Posted April 23, 2012 at 7:41 am | Permalink

        Catherine & Nick

        Do you read JR’s Dairy on a regular/daily basis ?

        I have done so now for nearly 3 years, and he has written numerous posts on the Countries financial plight, its debts, government spending, and offered his views on workable solutions to all of these problems, which you may, or may not like.

        Do remember, JR is not a Government Minister (unfortunately) and can therefore not put his ideas or solutions in practice, although I am sure he is not shy in making known his views to those who can.

        Perhaps if we had more Mp’s who had the financial knowledge of our Host, we would not have been in such a debt ridden state as we are at present.

        He did not spend all of the money.

        Unfortunately we are where we are, can I therefore suggest you blame those who got us into this mess, not those who offer solutions to get us out, if you want to have a go at someone.

  2. Nick
    Posted April 13, 2012 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    So how are you going to male the case for a Labour constituent in Woking who wants lots more borrow and spend?

    You’re not, are you?

    Vice versa for a Labour seat.

    That’s why the consitutency system is wrong.

    1. No say on an issue
    2. In the wrong constituency – no say at all.

  3. GP
    Posted April 14, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    Much as I enjoy and mostly agree with many of your postings I can’t, in this post, help wonder whether your enthusiasm for Project Merlin and Credit Easing isn’t at least partly due to your other role(s) working for bank(s).

    Reply: I do not work for a bank, and did not express enthusiaism for either of these initiaitives. I am highlighting a serious problem faced by many businesses and pressing the government for an answer. They have come up with two answers, which I am suggesting are not sufficient.

    • GP
      Posted April 18, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      Apologies i had read somewhere that you were a director of NM Rothschild and had carried out some consultancy work were a trustee for other investment banks and organisations although i cant actually see them now in the register of interests.

      Unlike the crazy days of Gordon Brown’s “boom/ economic miracle”, any bank that is going to lend money now is now surely only going to lend to sensible liquid feasible investments and businesses and no amount of harebrained Q/CE or lending schemes are going to change that – Surely the only way to help business is to stop propping up the foolish overexposed zombie banks with who just cant afford to lend and having cleared the stable out, allow their more prudent counterparts to fill their void – this is what Iceland have done and it seems to have worked for them.

      Reply: I am not a Director of Rothschilds or any other bank, and have no consultancy work with any bank. There are people trying to libel me along those lines, and they should be careful.

      • GP
        Posted April 19, 2012 at 10:06 am | Permalink

        sorry to hear about that – Wikipedia was one of the places i saw it ( – if that helps)

        Do you agree that we should follow the Iceland example and liquidate insolvent imprundent zombie banks rather than let them strangle the rest of the economy like we are at the moment though?

  4. BobE
    Posted April 14, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    Well John, in 3 years time the LDs will vanish and the Cons will be in the outback. By default a Liebour Government run by Brussels. Im hoping UKIP might start something better. Your lot won’t will they?
    BobE

  5. RDM
    Posted April 16, 2012 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    John,
    I know there is nothing you can do about it, but is it true that neither Project Merlin or Credit Easing are being allowed to have any effect within Wales. Just like the Government Loan Guarantee Scheme?

    I know the Coop(My Bank) has opted out?

    If so, doesn’t this make the case for a British (Central) based scheme or development bank?

    Regards,

    RDM.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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