NatWest chief executive Alison Rose has refused to attend a hearing of the House of Commons Treasury select committee next week, telling MPs that she is “too busy” ahead of the state-owned bank’s full-year results, according to people briefed on the spat.
Committee chair Harriett Baldwin called Rose on Tuesday to emphasise that MPs wanted the most senior banking executives to attend, said these people. Baldwin was rebuffed by Rose, who was made a dame in the new year’s honours list.
One of the main items on the Treasury committee’s agenda at its hearing on Tuesday is why leading high-street banks are being slow to pass on the benefits of rising interest rates to savers, said one person familiar with the plans. MPs have been “inundated” with complaints from constituents about the issue, added this person.
MPs will also ask about affordability issues affecting the mortgage market and changes to UK regulations, including the scrapping of a banker bonus cap.
NatWest has proposed that David Lindberg, head of its retail bank, attend the Treasury committee hearing instead of Rose.
Other bosses due to attend the hearing include Charlie Nunn, Lloyds Banking Group chief executive, and Ian Stuart, chief executive of HSBC’s UK bank. Matt Hammerstein is taking the place of Barclays boss CS Venkatakrishnan, who is undergoing treatment for cancer.
“I am very keen that all the major banks’ top executives appear before our committee,” Baldwin told the Financial Times. “I am particularly keen that it should not be an all-male panel, because we want to send out a message to younger women in banking that they can reach the very top.”
A spokesperson for NatWest declined to comment on Rose’s behalf.
Andrea Leadsom, a former Conservative cabinet minister who is a member of the Treasury committee, said the no-show by Rose would be “extremely disappointing”.
“Almost every major UK bank CEO will attend this crucial hearing into why interest rate rises do not appear to be fully passed on to savers,” she added.
The government is still the largest shareholder of NatWest, with a 46 per cent stake — a legacy of the bailout of Royal Bank of Scotland during the financial crisis.
Additional reporting by Jim Pickard