BUSINESS Secretary Vince Cable has ruled out an "early sale" of Northern Rock and returning the bank to its building society roots.
The senior Liberal Democrat said remutualisation was “not being actively considered” because it would not secure a good deal for taxpayers.
In a revealing interview with The Journal, Mr Cable also brushed aside claims of coalition splits and said he intends to remain in the Cabinet for its full five-year term as agreed between Lib Dems and Tories.
The Business Secretary will today visit the Corus steel works and the National Renewable Energy Centre (NAREC), in Blyth, to show support for the region’s green sector. He will also hold talks with local university and business chiefs.
Speaking about Northern Rock, Mr Cable said: “We want to have maximum value for money for the taxpayer and we are not looking to a quick sale of the company.”
But he warned against a restored Rock building society, saying: “How does the taxpayer get their money back? I mean it isn’t actively being considered. There isn’t kind of doctrinal problem. I was quite attracted to it.”
A banking commission - set up the coalition - could influence the Rock’s future, signalled Mr Cable.
He went on to contrast the coalition with the previous Labour Government, with Lord Mandelson’s autobiography showing its members “hated” each other.
While the coalition came from “different tribes”, Mr Cable said: “Of course there are people in both coalition parties who sound off from time to time, but that’s what you would expect in democratic politics.
“But the coalition itself works cohesively and our parties are very much with us.”
Asked if he planned to stay in the Cabinet for the coalition’s planned five-year term, Mr Cable said: “That’s my intention, yes.”
But he added: “We don’t to want to blur the identities [of the parties] and we actually think the idea of two parties working together is a good one. But we are not heading in a merger direction.”
And he signalled he was ready to fight the Treasury over the scale of cuts, saying: “My department’s concern is that we are able to continue to support growth.
“And I certainly want to emerge from this with a budget that enables us to do that in higher and further education, and science.”