When Justin Welby, bishop of Durham, takes his turn asking questions as a member of parliament’s Banking Standards Commission, the other members pay him an unusual deference.

His clerical collar and open willingness to challenge witnesses on the moral correctness of their answers help lend him a certain gravity.

But what really keeps the other MPs interested is his firsthand knowledge, as a former oil executive, of how financial markets work and what it is like to deal with commercial and investment bankers.

“He doesn’t just bring an ethical perspective. He brings an expertise and a detailed understanding …whether it is on derivatives, on which he is an expert, or ringfencing the banks,” said Lord McFall, a Labour peer who also sits on the commission.

Speaking at a financial conference in Zurich, Bishop Welby compared the 2008 financial crisis with the 1940 bombing of Coventry cathedral. Rather than simply rebuild, he said, the financial sector needed to refocus, with government support only for those who provide banking infused with social purpose.

“Too much effort is going into putting Humpty back together again, and it can’t happen,” he said.

“The task of all those involved in the supervision, the legislation for, and participation in the financial markets is to find that once in a generation leap of imagination that does not simply seek to repair what was destroyed in 2008, but to replace it with something that is of lasting value.”

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