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Monday, September 27, 1999 Published at 14:07 GMT 15:07 UK

UK Politics

Pledge to end 'rip-off Britain'

Bank charges are under government scrutiny

Chancellor Gordon Brown has pledged to stand up to banks and big business to defend the rights of individual consumers and small firms.

In his speech to the Labour Party conference, the chancellor promised to take tough action to end anti-competitive practices and over-charging.

He pledged that Labour would replace "rip-off Britain" with a "fair-deal Britain for the future."

The chancellor insisted that the publication of the government's banking review later this year would lead to the stamping out of practices which held back business and penalised consumers.

"Too often in the old Britain, monopolies, cartels and cliques have overcharged people, pushed prices far above what consumers pay in America and elsewhere," he said.

"In the new Britain of enterprise open to all, we will expose and end anti-competitive practices.

"We will stand on the side of consumers, for the first time publish league tables comparing all key charges for financial services."

"Never again will we allow the retirement plans of tens of thousands of Britain's working people to be ruined by the mis-selling of pensions."

'Unco-operative banks'

[ image: The chancellor says Labour will take on price-fixing cartels]
The chancellor says Labour will take on price-fixing cartels
The government has previously promised to investigate why the same goods are sold at significantly higher prices in British shops than outlets abroad.

It is also undertaking a review of the practices and charging policies of high street banks.

The job of leading the review was given to former telecoms regulator, Don Cruickshank.

In an interim report in July, he said that his work was being hampered by a lack of co-operation from the banks.

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