01 February 2023

NatWest boss refuses summons by MPs probing savings rates

01 February 2023

The boss of NatWest has refused a request to appear in front of MPs to answer questions on why banks are being slow to pass on higher interest rates to savers.

Chief executive Alison Rose has told MPs on the Treasury Select Committee that she does not have the time to speak to them next week as she needs to prepare for the bank’s annual results.

Bosses at Lloyds, HSBC and Barclays are all appearing in front of the influential group, but Ms Rose refused, even after being called by newly elected chair, Harriett Baldwin.

“The banks often send things saying ‘We want to work closely with you; we’re here whenever you need us; can’t wait to meet you’,” said a source close to the committee.

“And when we ask them to come in before us they kind of run a mile. There’s a bit of a contradiction between those two things.”

The Government owns around 46% of the company’s shares.

The hearing, due to take place next week, was set to focus on why banks had been quick to pass on increases in the Bank of England’s base interest rate to mortgage borrowers, but not to savers.

It was also going to focus on the outlook for the mortgage market and the scrapping of the cap on bankers’ bonuses.

The UK chief executives of Barclays and HSBC – which are global banks – and the group chief executive of Lloyds will appear at the hearing.

All three other banks also have their financial results in the following weeks, although a few days after NatWest.

Ms Baldwin said: “I am very keen that all the major banks’ top executives appear before our committee.

“I am particularly keen that it should not be an all-male panel, because we want to send out a message to younger women in banking that they can reach the very top.”

Ms Rose will be sending her chief executive of retail banking, David Lindberg, in her place in the belief that he is best placed to answer some of the committee’s questions.

A NatWest spokesperson said: “As the chief executive of our retail bank, serving 16 million customers, David Lindberg is directly responsible for these critical consumer issues and is an appropriate representative for NatWest Group at the hearing next week.”

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