'Big Four' UK banks under the spotlight again

The "Big Four" UK high street banks are likely to be bombarded with fresh criticism this week as the Treasury Select Committee unveils its latest report into banking practices.

It is expected that the report, compiled by a cross-party group of MPs, will once again strike at issues including the level of transparency banks show for service charges and the high level of credit card charges imposed.

It will also likely escalate the already precarious relationship between government committees and the leading banks. In a hearing in May, Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds TSB and Royal Bank of Scotland were all slammed by John McFall, the committee's chairman. He pointed to their lack of willingness to accept his accusations that they had been running a "complex monopoly" and had squeezed exuberant profits from small business customers.

Consequentially, the banks have had to accept new procedures for dealing with small business accounts, and are currently negotiating the implementation of such measures with the Office of Fair Trading.

However, it is believed that Conservative members of the committee have shown dissatisfaction with some of the measures, raising question marks over how effective they may prove.

This latest report is also expected to recommend that banks make it easier for customers to change accounts from one bank to another; a factor believed to be critical in driving marketplace competition.