Motion lodged in parliament
Leonard demands MSPs unite to halt RBS closures
Richard Leonard: ‘decision flies in the face of decency, diligence and honesty’ (pic by Terry Murden)
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has called on MSPs to help block Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) from closing a third of its branches.
He has lodged a motion for debate at Holyrood calling for the UK government to intervene to stop the closures.
His intervention follows a plea from trade union Unite for the Scottish government to take action. Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse has written to the Treasury urging a similar response as banking regulation is a reserved matter.
RBS confirmed last week that 62 branches in Scotland and 259 across the UK will close by next summer.
Mr Leonard said: “This announcement by the Royal Bank of Scotland will damage high streets the length and breadth of Scotland. It will lead to the direct loss of more than a hundred of jobs – and the indirect loss of many more.
“It will hurt the elderly and the vulnerable, who depend on local banks the most.
“All of this has been decided by bankers determined to cut costs and boost profits – and despite their promise in 2010 that they would not close branches if they were the last bank in town.
“This decision flies in the face of decency, diligence and honesty. It is an insult to RBS workers, customers, and all those who worked to rescue RBS with the use of funding from the taxpayer when it was in dire straits.
“The people of the UK own a majority of RBS and – if RBS bosses won’t listen to reason – the UK government must intervene to stop these closures.
“I hope MSPs will join with me in adding their voices to the chorus calling for RBS branches to be saved.”
The motion: “That the Parliament condemns the decision by the Royal Bank of Scotland to break their promise to customers with the bank announcing they are closing branches despite promising in 2010 they would stay open even if they were the last ones in town; notes that this is the second time in nine months that RBS, which is still majority government-owned, has announced branch closures as it attempts to cut costs and boost profits; acknowledges these proposed closures have triggered concern about a lack of support for small businesses, people in rural areas and the elderly; and backs Unite the Union’s call for the UK government to block these cuts as it will decimate RBS’s high-street network and could mark the end of branch network banking.”