From Hansard, 8th October 2008, Column 285/286
Mr. Chris Mullin (Sunderland, South) (Lab): I am sure that my right hon. Friend shares the joy of the whole House that the shadow Chancellor has managed to wipe that perpetual smirk from his face. May I put it to my right hon. Friend that memories in the City are short? There is a danger-is there not?-that once this crisis has blown over, although it may take some time to do so, old habits will be reverted to. He may recall that in the 1970s the building societies got themselves into similar trouble, although not quite on this scale, and had to be bailed out by the then Labour Government, but before long they were back at it again. What assurance can he give that the measures he takes to deal with the excesses of the past will make sure that they never recur?
Mr. Darling: My hon. Friend raises a valid point. Memories can be short. In another 15 years, when there is another generation, there is that risk. That is why we have to make sure that our regulatory system is constantly kept up to the mark, to take account of the fact that markets change, practices change and people change. People forget what happened in the past, so it is important that we maintain a collective memory both in the private sector and also, I suspect, in the public sector. It is very important, and we need to make sure that the regulatory system helps us to do that. Companies themselves have a responsibility. The first line of defence against irresponsible risk taking ought to lie in the boardrooms of British companies, and directors of companies should never ever forget that.