Scottish Affairs Committee: Press Notice

Announcement 13 of Session 2008-09

1 April 2009

RBS responds to Committee’s letter regarding job losses

Mr Pell, Deputy Group Chief Executive, Royal Bank of Scotland Group, has responded to the letter from Mr Sarwar, Chairman of the Committee, regarding evidence given to the Committee on 19 March regarding Banking in Scotland. The Committee would like to thank Mr Pell for his response to its questions. The text of the letter is as follows:

Dear Mr Sarwar,

Thank you for your letter of 26th March the contents of which I note very closely and try again to answer in full below. I hope you will convey to the Committee how seriously I took the evidence session. The amount of time that went into my preparation was very substantial indeed and I am very aware of the importance of the Committee and an evidence session of this nature.

As I mentioned to the Committee and in my letter of 23rd March we have committed to a significant cost savings programme to cut £2.5 billion from our operating expenses over three years. We have not made an estimate of the global jobs impact of this as we cannot predict with any accuracy what they will be either in total or by geography. This will be worked through by all our businesses around the world.

What I referred to in my oral evidence was an estimate of the potential impact in Scotland of the 2700 job losses in the UK that we have already announced this year. I made clear in the evidence that because of the due process we are working through we are not yet in a position to say what the exact number for Scotland is. As I said

"There are a number of options available so I cannot specify on exactly which site that would be. The rough feel at the moment will be for Scotland several hundred."

I was then put under very understandable pressure to be more precise by members of the Committee. I then put a more specific number on as an estimate having been asked to do so.

During the Committee you will be aware that the media were already misreporting that the 2700 number I referred to was a new announcement. This misconception was something we were keen to correct with the media following the Committee meeting. In addition we sought to ensure that the media were aware of the fact that the specific numbers I mentioned to the Committee were estimates.

In all of this as I said in my previous letter, I have sought to give honest answers to straight questions. I hope the Committee will understand that we can only report what we know, when we know it. We have been very clear that job losses are inevitable and that there will be more announcements to follow those that have already been made. Many of these will have implications for our staff in Scotland. All our businesses all across the Group's staff population of nearly 180,000 around the world will be affected.

We are trying to manage this difficult process in the best possible way and to be as sensitive to our people as we possibly can. We have agreed with the Unite Union in the UK that we will do all we can to keep compulsory redundancies to an absolute minimum. As a result of this we cannot predict what the number of compulsory redundancies will be until the end of the process. This makes it impossible for me to answer your second question.

Again I repeat that I regret the confusion the Committee feel has been caused and I hope this letter helps set the record straight.

Yours sincerely,

Gordon Pell
Deputy Chief Executive


1.   Committee Membership is as follows: Mr Mohammad Sarwar MP (Lab, Glasgow Central) (Chairman),  Alistair Carmichael MP (Lib Dem, Orkney and Shetland), Ms Katy Clark MP (Lab, North Ayrshire and Arran), Mr Ian Davidson MP (Lab/Co-operative, Glasgow South West), Mr Jim Devine MP (Lab, Livingston), Mr Jim McGovern MP (Lab, Dundee West), David Mundell MP (Con, Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale), Lindsay Roy MP (Lab, Glenrothes), Mr Charles Walker MP (Con, Broxbourne), Mr Ben Wallace MP (Con, Lancaster and Wyre) and Pete Wishart MP (SNP, Perth and North Perthshire).

2.    More information on Committee publications can be found at:

3. The Committee’s letter to RBS was published as part of Announcement 8 of Session 2008-09, 23 March. The response from RBS was published as part of Announcement 9 of Session 2008-09, 24 March. The Committee’s follow-up letter was published as part of Announcement 11 of Session 2008-09, 27 March.

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