One of the purposes of this blog is, as the actual word “blog” indicates, to be a web-based log of my travels and activities during this year. The Presbyterian Mutual Society saga is well-documented elsewhere, not least in the local press here in Northern Ireland, and I don’t need to add to all that has been written already. But I think it’s important to record my visit to Her Majesty’s Treasury this week as part of the continued effort to see the PMS crisis resolved.
I was aware that I was entering a very different world to the one I normally inhabit. As we were escorted along the corridor to the office of Dr Ian Pearson, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, one of my colleagues whispered loudly, “the corridor of power”. Apart from 10 Downing Street, we were in probably one of the most powerful locations in the UK where key decisions are made that affect the lives of so many people, in the UK and farther afield.
The Treasury website describes significant ways in which it has acted to help financial institutions like Northern Rock, as well as its work in addressing the global problem of debt relief. And it is the same Treasury which is reported to have allowed massive bonuses to be paid to executives in RBS, the bank that failed and that needed vast amounts of money from the Treasury to survive.
Our mission to the Treasury was to seek support for the PMS. In view of the bail-outs of other financial institutions, and the permission to pay such huge bonuses to the executives of a failed bank, one might have expected that the PMS case be given favourable consideration. We presented our case as best we could, but left without having resolved the issues, or having received any firm assurances. As I write, the goal of rescuing the PMS is still not achieved.
Nonetheless, I want to record my visit to the Treasury, but I don’t think it will feature as one of the highlights of this year. The dull and grey picture associated with this post accurately reflects the mood I felt that wet afternoon.