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Last Updated: Sunday, 23 September 2007, 16:19 GMT 17:19 UK
Darling makes banks change pledge
Alistair Darling
Mr Darling has been speaking at the Labour party conference

Chancellor Alistair Darling says there are "lessons to be learnt" following the Northern Rock bank crisis.

But he told Labour's annual conference he will take whatever action is needed to keep the economy stable.

Thousands of savers queued to get their money out of the bank last week, following news it needed emergency funds from the Bank of England.

Mr Darling told delegates effective supervision for banks was needed across the world and not just in the UK.

In his first speech to the Bournemouth conference as chancellor, he conceded that last week was "difficult" for Northern Rock savers.

My job is to protect ordinary savers
Alistair Darling

"There are lessons to be learnt - and I will make the changes we need to ensure stability," he said.

"My job is to protect ordinary savers. So we need to strengthen protection for ordinary savers. To give them confidence. Ensuring their savings in a bank or building society are guaranteed.

"It's been difficult. But we will come through this because we have built a strong and stable economy."

He stressed that the financial services industry in the UK was "strong" and he intended "to keep it that way".

He has already suggested that he would like to make changes to the banking system that would mean an increased guarantee for people's savings of up to 100,000 in the event of a crisis.

Election hint?

Earlier Prime Minister Gordon Brown rejected suggestions the government had known early on about Northern Rock's problems but had failed to act in time to prevent a run on the bank.

He praised the performance of Bank of England Governor Mervyn King, saying he had done a "brilliant" job. However, he stopped short of giving Mr King his backing for another five-year term as governor.

Mr King has faced intense criticism over his handling of Northern Rock, as critics have suggested that he failed to act quickly enough to help the lender.

In his conference address, Mr Darling hailed the "great achievement" of Mr Brown as chancellor, and former prime minister Tony Blair for his "clear vision for the future of our country".

And in what could be interpreted as a hint that a general election is around the corner, the chancellor said the party could win a fourth term.

"If we stick to our sense of purpose. If we prepare our country for change, then together, with Gordon Brown, we can deliver for all the people," he said.

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