Lawson, Advocate of Bank-Splitting, to Join U.K. Libor Inquiry

Nigel Lawson, who served as chancellor of the exchequer under Margaret Thatcher and is now an advocate of splitting banks’ retail and investment arms, is among five members of the House of Lords selected to sit on a parliamentary investigation into the Libor-rigging scandal.

Also on the panel from the upper house of Parliament are John McFall, a former chairman of the House of Commons Treasury Committee and another advocate of dividing up banks; the Bishop of Durham, Justin Welby; Liberal Democrat Susan Kramer; and a former civil servant, Andrew Turnbull.

Barclays, the second-biggest U.K. bank, agreed last month to pay 290 million pounds ($453 million) in regulatory fines for manipulating the London interbank offered rate, spurring the resignations of Chairman Marcus Agius, Chief Executive Officer Robert Diamond and Chief Operating Officer Jerry Del Missier. The Serious Fraud Office opened a criminal probe into Libor-rigging two weeks ago.

Lawson called in 2009 for a British version of the Glass-Steagall Act. He said earlier this year he would have preferred the government to go further than its current plans to set up a firewall around retail operations within banks and bring about a complete separation.

The Lords join five panel members from the Commons named last week, under the chairmanship of Andrew Tyrie, the Conservative lawmaker who heads the Treasury Committee. Fellow Tory Mark Garnier, Labour’s Andy Love and Pat McFadden and Liberal Democrat John Thurso are the other members from the lower house.

Under Oath

The Libor panel will be able to appoint a lawyer to question witnesses on its behalf and to question those witnesses under oath. It’s the result of a compromise between Prime Minister David Cameron’s Tory-led government and the opposition Labour Party, which had called for a full judicial inquiry along the lines of the one currently looking into media standards under Judge Brian Leveson. The government rejected that as too time-consuming.

The panel, to be known as the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, will look at “professional standards and culture of the U.K. banking sector, taking account of regulatory and competition investigations into the LIBOR rate-setting process,” as well as “lessons to be learned about corporate governance, transparency and conflicts of interest, and their implications for regulation and for government policy,” according to the wording of a motion published on Parliament’s website.

McFall quit today as a non-executive director of NBNK Investments Plc, the company said in a statement. NBNK said last month it would disband after it failed in a bid to buy 632 branches from Lloyds Banking Group Plc.

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