Speaking at Policy Exchange this morning George Osborne renewed his call for Gordon Brown to enact a guarantee for bank lending – first proposed by the Conservatives on 10th November. The Tories’ guarantee scheme is backed by the FT – which has called for Labour to "get on with it" – and yesterday on CentreRight.com by Ruth Lea. Mr Osborne attempted to increase the pressure on Labour today by tabling the issue for debate in the House of Lords:
"I can today announce that we have tabled an amendment to the Banking Bill in the House of Lords that would establish a National Loan Guarantee Scheme. That Bill will be debated when Parliament returns next week and we will press our case. It presents the Prime Minister with a clear choice. He can support the radical action needed to limit the effects of the recession or he can continue to achieve nothing. The most recent data show that the number of company liquidations has risen from 241 a week to 304 a week in the space of a year, and that’s even before taking the last few months into account. That’s almost 10 businesses a day going under because of the credit crunch. Every day that Gordon Brown dithers, he is putting at risk people’s jobs and livelihoods and futures. That’s why we need action and action now."
In a speech supported with a long list of quotations from academics, central bankers and businessmen the Shadow Chancellor also called on Labour to revisit the terms of the bank recapitalisation. The VAT cut had failed, he insisted, and at enormous cost to taxpayers. If Brown and Darling failed to understand the nature of the recession things would, Mr Osborne said, continue to get worse, not better.