THE First Church Estates Commissioner, Andreas Whittam Smith,
told General Synod on Saturday that the banking scandal would not
be solved by regulation.
Mr Whittam Smith said that the revelation that Barclays bank
manipulated interest rates had been a "shock". Other major banks
had been "doing the same thing, but we don't know the details
At close of business on Friday, the Commissioners held
approximately £5.6 million of shares in Barclays, and the Pensions
Board approximately £5.1 million.
Mr Whittam Smith said: "It's not bad banking we're dealing with.
. . it's bad business we're dealing with. I think it's worse than
I've seen in my career. . . I haven't seen it like this before. I
think this poses questions for us and for ethical investment, and
we're certainly rapidly going to do some work on banks."
Mr Whittam Smith said that he did not think that "regulation
will make much difference", because the banking industry had been
"regulated for two centuries". "We're dealing with cultural
deficiencies. If there's anybody who should think about these sorts
of deficiencies, it's the Church."
Mr Whittam Smith said that the head of Barclays' Remuneration
Committee came to see the Commissioners last year, to explain "the
criteria they use on deciding on their enormously high
Mr Whittam Smith said that church investors had power to
influence company boards, though their influence "will only go so
far. It won't turn the wicked into the virtuous, but it will edge
up certain boards into better behaviour than would otherwise have
been the case."
In April, Mr Whittam Smith signed a letter from a group of
investors to The Daily Telegraph, which said: "The problem
of excessive executive pay has become so serious that we have
resolved to work with our investment managers to ensure that the
remuneration policies of the companies we invest in are aligned
with our interests, transparent, linked to performance, and
appropriate in the context of each company"
News, 25 April).