UK's Darling-will make changes to ensure stability

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BOURNEMOUTH, England, Sept 23 (Reuters) British finance minister Alistair Darling said today the Northern Rock crisis last week had been difficult but he would make any changes that are needed to ensure economic stability.

Three months into his new job, Darling had to deal with Britain's first bank run in more than a century as thousands of panicked savers queued to get their money out of Northern Rock after it needed emergency help from the Bank of England.

The run only ended after the government pledged to guarantee all Northern Rock deposits. But shares in Britain's fifth-biggest mortgage lender have continued to slide.

''Last week was difficult. Difficult for Northern Rock savers, for us all. There are lessons to be learnt -- and I will make the changes we need to ensure stability,'' he said in his first speech to the annual Labour party conference in Bournemouth as finance minister.

A review of financial regulation is likely to be underway soon, according to government sources.

Darling said no government should ever be in the business of protecting executives who make the wrong decisions, but savers had to be protected.

''We need to strengthen protection for ordinary savers,'' he said. Britain now protects up to 31,700 pounds 63,720 dollars of savers' money but one proposal mooted is that this could rise to 100,000 pounds.

''We need effective regulation in international markets too.

Far greater openness and to prevent risky investment being hidden off the balance sheet. Effective supervision for banks, here and across the world,'' Darling said.


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