Letter to the Times 8-7-10

Sir,

The turmoil in the City and in world financial markets continues and we have yet to understand its full cost. This is already recognised as the profoundest crisis at least since 1929; but how did we get to this point?

At the time of the 1929 crisis, the government set up the Macmillan committee to investigate the relationship between finance and industry. In 1957 - prompted by letters to The Times - the Radcliffe committee was set up to look at the postwar monetary system. And in 1977, after the secondary banking crisis, the Wilson committee was asked to investigate the functioning of financial institutions. These committees had wide remits that looked across the entire UK financial system.

Since the Wilson committee there have been fundamental changes to that system, from deregulation and the independence of the Bank of England to global speculation of dizzying scale and complexity.

The Wilson committee observed that there seems to be an inquiry into the financial system ďabout every quarter centuryĒ. A new inquiry into the fundamentals of the entire system is long overdue and urgently needed, if we are to order our financial affairs sustainably for the long term.

This inquiry needs to be much broader and deeper than recent Treasury Committee inquiries and the forthcoming Independent Commission on Banking. It would best assure public confidence if a Royal Commission, of wide remit and prestigious membership, were to be charged with this task. We therefore call upon the Government to set up a Royal Commission of inquiry into the workings of the entire economic system.

Colin Dexter, OBE, Author and educationalist

Lord Phillips of Sudbury

Lord Harries of Pentregarth

Jonathon Porritt, Author and broadcaster

John Christensen, Director, Tax Justice Network

The Right Rev Dr Peter Selby

Dr Manazir Ahsan, Director General, Islamic Foundation

Anil Bhanot, Hindu Council UK

Rabbi Jeffrey Newman, Director, Earth Charter UK

Bert Schouwenburg, International Officer, GMB Trade Union

Carlos Ruiz, Emeritus Professor of Engineering Science, University of Oxford

Professor Timothy Gorringe

Chris Brown, Former President, National Association of Estate Agents

David M Triggs, Executive Chairman, the Henry George Foundation of Great Britain

Miles Litvinoff, Co-ordinator, The Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility

The Rev Paul Nicholson, Chair, Zacchaeus 2000 Trust

The Rev Canon Lucy Winkett, St Paulís Cathedral

Canon Giles Fraser, St Paulís Cathedral

Sacha Adams Stone, Chairman - Humanitad Foundation

Diana Basterfield, Co-Founder, Ministry for Peace