Three cheers for the Treasury select committee!
It’s not often we can applaud politicians but they have got it spot on for censuring the discredited UK Payments Council over its appalling handling of the cheques issue.
This lackey of the banking industry raised real fears among businesses, charities and individuals that this vital payment method was to go within a decade.
It’s no good the council spin doctor saying it was only a consultation exercise. It was not. The council actively wanted to scrap cheques under the cloak of declining use. The real reason is that this cabal of bankers wanted rid of a scheme that was inconvenient and expensive for them, no matter what customers thought.
The only consultation was to be about what would replace the cheque. Abolition was presented as a fait-accompli.
Charities depend on cheques for 80 per cent of their donations. Many businesses still use cheques, and much of the population - not just those of a certain age - believe cheques are a vital way of paying for things.
Of course there are alternative electronic methods - and no one uses cheques at supermarkets any more - but how would the likes of schools, Brownies and sports clubs afford the cost of installing them.
Thankfully, the council backed down under sustained pressure from all quarters, but, true to its spinning traditions, under the pretext of claiming there was no viable alternative. Well surprise surprise! The cheque is a tried a trusted method and as a paper transaction cannot be bettered. It now also needs the return of the guarantee card.
Unfortunately, the handful of so-called independent colleagues on the council failed to put a brake on this disreputable plan - how on earth could they not see the looming furore? - and stand guilty alongside their banking band of brothers.
They should have spent more energy on speeding up the tortoise-slow cheque payment system rather than raising the blood pressure of millions.
A lot of decent quangoes have been scrapped and the UK Payments Council should go the same way. It should be replaced by a body far more representative of the consumer, not the vested interests of bankers.
The council failed the public and the Government should kill it off - just what the council wanted to do to the still cherished cheque.