Mundell to interrogate RBS bosses over branch closures

David Mundell

David Mundell

Scottish Secretary David Mundell will today grill Royal Bank of Scotland bosses over their plan to close 62 of its Scottish branches as part of a vast, UK-wide purge of its network that has caused uproar in local communities.

The meeting in Edinburgh will see Mr Mundell confront the chief executive of the still 73 per cent state-owned bank’s Personal and Business Banking division.

It is expected that the political leader will tell Les Matheson to “think again” over the branch closure plan which will cost 158 jobs and leave many rural areas without a bank.

Edinburgh-based RBS said the decision to close one-third of its branches in Scotland, reflected the trend towards online banking, citing data that showed the use of its branches by customers had fallen 40 per cent since 2014.

But responding to the bank’s justification at Scottish Questions in the Commons, Mr Mundell told MPs it was “not good enough for RBS to say people can rely on internet and mobile banking when so many people in Scotland do not have access to the internet or mobile services”.

He said: “When I meet the Royal Bank tomorrow, I will convey the concerns from across the House about its programme of closures.”

A source close to the Secretary of State, whose own Dumfriesshire constituency is to lose six branches, later said: “He will convey the anger felt by people across rural Scotland at these closures. His feeling is it is simply not good enough for a bank that is trying to promote itself as Scotland’s bank to withdraw so many branches from parts of the nation.”

It is expected that Scottish MPs are also set to quiz Mr Matheson and other senior bank executives on the issue in the New Year, although reports have also suggested that the RBS chief executive Ross McEwan could also be summoned over the closures.

SNP MP Pete Wishart  said: “We will reserve the right to extend this short inquiry if we feel we do not secure satisfactory responses. We are therefore also hoping to hear from the government and if necessary from Ross Mcewan could be called to answer to MPS wan, chief executive of RBS.” Scottish Secretary David Mundell said he would meet RBS executives today.

“It is not good enough for RBS to say that people can rely on internet and mobile banking when so many people in Scotland do not have access to the internet or effective mobile services,” he told MPS.

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