South of Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has accused the Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell of a “gross dereliction of duty” after the failure of the UK Government to intervene to save 62 branches of the Royal Bank of Scotland, including 16 branches in the South Scotland Scottish Parliamentary region.
The local MSPs comments come as the Federation of Small Business (FSB) give evidence to the UK Parliament Scottish Affairs Committee this week (Wednesday 17 January) calling on the UK Government to step in to stop communities being left without a bank branch. It follows research by the FSB that shows the UK Government owned RBS has slashed its branch network by 70 per cent in the last five years.
The call by the FSB echoes one made by South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth in a Scottish Parliament debate last month in which he urged the UK Government -; which owns 71% of shares in the Royal Bank- to intervene and stop the closures. In the debate Colin Smyth also called for a change in the law that would mean where a branch is the last bank in a town or village, a bank must carry out public consultation with its customers before proposing a closure and the final decision on closure should be made the independent Financial Conduct Authority not the bank itself.
Colin Smyth said, “The decision by the Royal Bank of Scotland and other banks to close down vital local bank branches is an example of big business putting profit before people. Not everybody is able to access online banking or travel the many miles to find a bank branch in a city or large town, so bank closures will mean in many cases elderly people or those in rural areas, and small businesses will be stranded without the facilities they need”
“RBS closures, in particular, are an insult to local communities because they were saved by public money. It is the taxpayer who own the Royal Bank of Scotland which means the UK government has the power do the right thing and step in now to stop the closures and protect these vital community services. Their failure to do so is a dereliction of duty by David Mundell and the UK Government. It is frankly an embarrassment for Mr Mundell that as a result of these closures many of his constituents will need to travel to England to find their nearest Royal Bank of Scotland.”
“It is unacceptable for banks to plead poverty as an excuse for closing local banks while still paying out six and seven-figure sums to their top executives. The taxpayers who bailed them out just won’t buy that”.
“In many communities the closure of these branches will mean there is no longer a bank in towns and villages across our area. We need a change in the law that would mean a branch cannot be closed where there is clear local need. If we don’t have that change soon there will be no branch network left to save.”
Colin Smyth’s contribution during the recent Scottish Parliament debate on the Royal Bank of Scotland closures can be read here:
and viewed here: