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Darling won’t rule out Rock and B&B mortgage book merger

Chancellor Alistair Darling has not ruled out a merger of the mortgage books of Northern Rock and Bradford & Bingley.

Facing questions at this afternoon’s Treasury Select Committee, Darling said that he would “do what he thinks is best in the public interest” but would not deny this would include taking B&B’s ‘rump’ onto the Northern Rock balance sheet.

Jim Cousins MP asked Darling: “Can you give this committee the assure that you won’t seek to merge the book of Northern Rock with the rump of B&B?”

Darling replied: “I think that to make any broad based or specific comment in a time when things are changing so rapidly might be unwise, be it Northern Rock, Bradford & Bingley or any other institutions you would care to name. I think it would be better to make the point that I will do whatever is necessary.”

In a muted session, Darling admitted changes need to be made in defining the primary job of the UKFI. “Inevitably we have acquired these banks and we had to do it quickly. A lot has happened in the last five months and there will be a lot we have to adapt and we shouldn’t be ashamed of that,” he said.

Cousins said to Darling: “if you are going to lead us into this Temple of Doom I think the British people will look to you to behave a little more like Indiana Jones.”

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