Archbishop criticises City for 'culture of entitlement'

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby Archbishop Welby defended his description of the UK's economic situation as a depression

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The City of London has been affected by a "culture of entitlement" at variance with what others think reasonable, the new Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

But the Most Reverend Justin Welby told the BBC business morality was in many ways much better than in the past.

He also defended his description of the UK's economic situation as a depression rather than a recession.

Asked if this had upset Number 10, the archbishop said: "Sometimes feathers get ruffled. I mean - that's life."

The archbishop - a former oil industry executive - is a member of the cross-party Banking Standards Commission.

He told BBC Radio 4's the Week in Westminster there should be exams for those who want to work in the banking industry and suggested employees could be overseen by a professional body.

He said that as banks "have the capacity to have such an impact on the wider economy" then specific training should be necessary.

"Banks are incredibly complicated things, it is one of the most demanding and complicated areas of management going. The idea that people can hold hugely responsible positions in them without any kind of formal training seems to a number of us as quite surprising."

Regional banks

He said: "I think in banking, in particular, and in the City of London, a culture of entitlement has affected a number of areas, not universally by any means, in which it seemed to disconnect from what people saw as reasonable in the rest of the world."

Archbishop Welby has proposed recapitalising a major bank and breaking it up to create regional banks.

But he declined in the radio interview with Financial Times political editor George Parker to name which institution he had in mind.

Archbishop Welby noted that economic activity had been "significantly below" the levels of 2007 for "quite a long time".

He said he did not know whether his use of the term "depression" had annoyed "people in Number 10".

"Historically, depressions have been recognised as lengthy periods in which the economy did not get back to its previous level of activity before a recession set in," he said.

"So 1929 to 1932 is the great example. There was a big one towards the end of the 19th Century.

"We are still significantly below where we were in 2007 in terms of economic activity, of GDP, and that's quite a long time of being below.

"Now, I'm not pointing any fingers at anyone in particular and saying it's so-and-so's fault or so-and-so's fault, it's simply a measurable fact coming from the national statistics."

'Social implications'

The archbishop acknowledged that part of his mission may be to inject "more morality" into the City of London.

He said: "My key mission is to lead the Church in worshipping Jesus Christ and encouraging people to believe in him and follow him. That's my mission.

"The Christian gospel has always had strong social implications and one of them is around the common good and it's one of the key areas in which the Church of England focuses.

"So issues of how the City of London, which is so important and so full of very gifted people, how that behaves in relation to the common good is very key, not to the whole thing that I'm about or the Church is about, but to how we express the implications of that in day to day life."

Parker said the archbishop could have withdrawn from the banking commission when he took up his role, but opted to stay involved. He now had three "pulpits" - the Church, the House of Lords and the banking commission.

BBC political correspondent Ross Hawkins says the cities of London and Westminster are growing used to an archbishop who produces plans for restructuring financial services and a regular commentary on economic growth.

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