Constraints on Northern Rock do not go far enough, says BSA

"The EC states that splitting Northern Rock will not unduly distort competition; however, we don't believe that the new competitive framework surrounding Northern Rock goes far enough to ensure this.

"Given the split, the 100% Government guarantee on Northern Rock's retail deposits should now be removed. Until this happens, we strongly believe that Northern Rock should pay a fee to the Government for the benefit of this guarantee.

"The commitment to stay out of the Moneyfacts top three best-buys for mortgages is a step in the right direction. However we'd have hoped for a commitment to stay out of the top five.

"We note the restriction to the size of the savings book. This is welcome as far as it goes. Unfortunately, previous targets set by Northern Rock were met well ahead of planned dates suggesting short-term distortion to the market can take place within a long-term commitment.

"In the longer term, we believe there is a strong case for returning Northern Rock to the mutual sector, thus encouraging diversity, competition and a more prudent approach to business than might otherwise be achieved."