The Royal Bank of Scotland’s chief executive Ross McEwan is scheduled to appear before members of the parliament and explain the bank’s plans to close their branches across Scotland. McEwan will present their evidence to the Scottish Affairs Committee at Westminster. The negotiations for him to appear took a lengthy period before his appearance was confirmed.
The hearing will center on the bank’s decision to close 62 of its branches and the announcement regarding 10 of the branches’ partial reprieve. Committee member Deidre Brock said that the bank has “plenty of questions to answer” regarding the issues at hand.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) parliament members also said they needed more details on the plans for the ten branches reprieved after a campaign by the SNP and the community members. Brock also said, “The taxpayer owns the bank, and the chief executive needs to explain the decision-making process that is leaving many communities across Scotland without physical banking services.”
The parliament said the branches spared are “still under threat.” Also, the MPs said they needed to know “what basis they are being judged on, what will give these communities peace of mind that they will still have a bank.”
Brock emphasized the importance of banks to communities in Scotland, saying that businesses and people depend on them to help keep the local economy running. She added that the government could not continue to dismiss their concerns and look the other way while RBS willfully damages the interests of its shareholders – the taxpayers.
The SNP will undertake measures to save the banks, she mentioned. Brock said that it is time other parties joined in the campaign and pressure the UK government to work in Scotland’s interests to force the company to respect the communities in danger of being abandoned.
McEwan defended their plans, saying the action was “in response to customer choices” and that “mobile banks could play a greater role.” RBS is not the only Scotland-based bank to close, but the company’s plans are most prominent.
Disability and rural campaigners also questioned if the closure plans breached equalities legislation. Because of this, Scottish Rural Action and Disabilities Equality Scotland collaborated with Scottish government minister Jeane Freeman to seek clarification regarding the legal status of the closure plans. They have written to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, asking if the proposals breach the Equalities Act 2010.