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Labour Attacks U.K. Banks Over Release of Business Lending Data

Aug. 11 (Bloomberg) -- The U.K.’s opposition Labour Party criticized banks for publishing their own data on lending to businesses ahead of the Bank of England’s official release.

In a letter to Bank of England Governor Mervyn King, Labour lawmakers Chuka Umunna and Chris Leslie asked which data were to be trusted. The bank will publish its official figures at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow.

“If the banks are able to put out their own data ahead of the Bank of England’s verified data, which data set do you believe should be considered as the actual picture of lending to U.K. businesses?” they wrote.

HSBC Holdings Plc, Barclays Plc, Lloyds Banking Group Plc, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and Banco Santander SA reached an agreement, known as Project Merlin, with the U.K. government in February to provide 190 billion pounds ($308 billion) of gross new lending this year, compared with 179 billion pounds in 2010.

The British Bankers’ Association said Aug. 5 the banks are “on track” to meet their commitments after providing 100.4 billion pounds in lending in the first half of the year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net.

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