In its response to the initial questions posed by the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland has urged the City to consider its values and the devastating implications of putting profit before ethics, and suggested that taking excessive risk should become a criminal offence.
Commenting on the submission, the Convenor of the Church and Society Council, Rev Sally Foster-Fulton said:
“The way in which our economy is structured means that many people are marginalised by market forces, and this is of concern to the church.
“Banks are not simply businesses, but provide an essential economic service fundamental to how we operate as a society.
“It is necessary that they operate on principles which are driven not simply by profit, but take cognisance of the wider effects which their actions have on society, especially the most vulnerable.
“We feel that excessive risk-taking should become a criminal offence as many people at the top in banking have reaped rich financial rewards with no threat of prosecution when their actions do harm to the consumers they are meant to serve.
“In addition, we feel that non- executive directors should also be liable to sanction in the event of their failure of provide proper oversight.
“Our response also challenges tax havens, argues for more effective supervision of Chief Executives through improved auditing and the presence of more shareholder and employee representatives on Boards, calls for the end of the present ‘bonus culture,’ and recommends changes to the Financial Services & Markets Act 2000 to permit all victims of mis-selling to obtain proper redress through the courts.”
Earlier this year, the Church of Scotland’s Commission on the Purposes of Economic Activity published its final report. The thirteen member commission comprised people with expertise from the fields of business and economics, church and community, politics and trade unionism. In their report they argue that it is necessary to: