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Party leaders argue over banking inquiry

David Cameron and Ed Miliband have clashed at PMQs about a proposed inquiry into culture and standards of the banking industry in the wake of the Barclays scandal and Bob Diamond’s resignation.

Cameron wants a short and sharp Parliamentary inquiry, led by Treasury select committee chairman and Tory MP Andrew Tyrie, while Labour is urging a more thorough judge-led public inquiry, comparable to the Leveson inquiry into phone hacking and media ethics.

The Labour leaders suggested the two could be combined: an initial inquiry focusing just on the Libor maniupation controversy, which would be followed by a longer probe into City culture more generally. Chancellor George Osborne has said one of the reasons he didn’t want to see a long public inquiry was because of the amount of time it would take.

Miliband criticised Cameron’s response to the controversy, saying: “Whenever these scandals happen, he is slow to act and he stands up for the wrong people.”

But he has not yet made clear what Labour will do if, as is almost certain, the Commons fails to back his call for a public inquiry tomorrow – whether he will support or oppose a Parliamentary inquiry if that is the only option on the table.

Cameron also addressed concern that Diamond could be in line for a multi-million pound pay-off following his resignation as Barclays chief executive. The PM said: “It would be completely wrong if people who were leaving under these circumstances were given some vast pay-off. It would be completely inexplicable to the British public and wouldn't be right and I very much hope that doesn't happen.”

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