“When’s the next Lubbock Holiday, dear?”
One of those fabulous nuggets of history known only to social historians and experienced pub-quizzers has been brought to the table by the House of Lords in a fascinating proposition of nomenclature.
From Tax to Taxonomy
To Lord McColl of Dulwich, such has been the deplorable behaviour of banks that they should no longer be nationally commemorated by association with the traditional ‘bank holiday’.
Instead, he argued, these days – of which there are currently six permanently established in England and Wales – should revert to the name they were originally given, St. Lubbock Days, after the MP who contrived the Bank Holidays Act in 1871.
Alongside Lubbock days (we’re trying to get used to it already!), public holidays in England in Wales include Christmas Day, Good Friday, and exceptional circumstances such as the Royal Wedding and Diamond Jubilee. There have recently been calls to convert May Day (or the “Early May Lubbock day”) into a national day that commemorates St George in April or Trafalgar in October.
The challenge came as peers discussed the Libor rate-rigging scandal at Barclays, the most recent and most shocking of a line of banking scandals and malpractice [of which there have been several].
Additionally, customers of banks in the taxpayer-owned RBS group continue to be inconvenienced a full two weeks after a problematic software upgrade caused a backlog of millions of transactions.
Barclays received a £290 million fine after it was revealed that derivatives traders had attempted to manipulate the Libor interbank lending rate. Through this activity, the parameters by which loans, mortgages and credit card rates for businesses and individuals were set could have been altered.
There are ongoing investigations into the conduct of other banks worldwide, while Barclays’ credit rating outlook has already been lowered by ratings agency Moody’s.
Yesterday, the erstwhile chief executive Bob Diamond described the rate-fixing as “reprehensible” during a grilling by MPs, some of whom remained decidedly unconvinced by his testimony.
“In view of the poor behaviour of the banks, could we consider changing the name bank holiday back to its original name – Lubbock days?” it was asked in the Lords.
The Lubbocks and Banking
The Lubbock family were instrumental to the progression of the banking industry in the nineteenth century.
John Lubbock (1842-1913), later first Baron Avebury (pictured right), was the eldest of eleven children of Sir John William Lubbock (1803-1865). The broad scientific interests of both men established them as eminent thinkers of their day.
As a member of the Royal Society, the elder Lubbock was instrumental in introducing British scientists to European research. The private bank that he raised and presided over was small but inherently successful – enough to make him one of the capital’s leading bankers.
The younger Lubbock came to the fore in 1860. He helped to develop a clearing facility for provincial banks in 1860, while in 1867 he initiated a yearly publication to log the transaction data of the London Bankers’ Clearing House. This came alongside the assumption of control of his father’s bank after his death in 1865.
He was passionate about working conditions and voting reform, and it was part of his work on labour issues in the early 1870s which led to the draft of the Bank Holiday Bill of 1871.
It must be argued, then, that these indigenous figures both ideologically advanced and garnered respect for the banking industry. With equal verocity, it must be said that the current array of banking malpractices, together with the figureheads, Goodwin, Diamond, et al, have diminished and devalued the industry with similar aplomb.
Lubbock Days. I think we’re sold on the idea. (Though don’t quote us as setting any rates on it…)