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Sometimes Asbstaining is the right thing to do even at midnight

Yesterday was the Northern Rock debate. The obvious thing to do is has been for some time to nationalise the bank to give it stability whilst aiming to return it to the private sector as a going concern.

Northern Rock faces some key challenges in that it is paying a penal interest rate to the Bank of England so it may not be cash flow positive. This is something the tories have ignored in their silly idea of putting it into administration. If Northern Rock doesn't pay the loan interest then the government would have to fund it. Hence administration is a really silly idea.

The debate was planned to go to Midnight and we were intending to support the government. In the last two hours, however, it turns out that noone knew what is happening with "Granite" which holds perhaps half the assets. Hence we ended up in the unusual position of abstaining because the government had not got enough information for a decision.

It remains that Nationalisation as passed yesterday is almost certainly the right action. It is a nuisance staying on the parliamentary estate until Midnight just to not vote. That's life, however. I started on the estate at about 7.50am and left at 12.15am.

It is sad, however, that 6,000 jobs in Newcastle with a Bank seem more important to the government that 6,000 jobs in Birmingham with Rover. Peter Luff seems to want to run a separate DBERR Rover Inquiry. I think this is a good idea.


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