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Banks

You might have thought that Britain's bankers would feel just a bit humble, a bit contrite at having created such financial chaos for this country in 2008, a little bit guilty even that so much of OUR money had to be used to save THEM from complete collapse. You might have thought that they would at least accept the need for reform of their institutions. And so a special inquiry set up by the British Government after the crisis is said to have one such reform in mind -- a bold plan to split the retail and investment arms of the banks so that they could not recklessly gamble away our savings quite so easily in the future -- so that if a bank played the markets and lost, ordinary depositors' money would still be safe.

You might have thought that our banks would accept that it was quite wrong to have the British taxpayer underwriting banks with balance sheets bigger than our gross domestic product -- but if you thought any such thing, you would of course be wrong. Instead the banks greeted the idea of the split with an intensive lobbying campaign against any further regulation. Such regulation would, they argue, 'damage their ability to lend'. They warn that it would 'destabilise' them just when our economy is at its weakest, and while our friends in Europe are having a few problems with their rather wobbly Euro.

And in case we didn't get the message, they have also muttered darkly about moving headquarters out of London, to countries more understanding of their need for bloated bonuses and the freedom to gamble with other peoples' money.

The British Government would, of course, not give in to that kind of threat. They let it be known this week that when the plan for the future of the banks was published, its recommendations would be acted upon and turned into law. Nothing would, however, actually be done about the problem until after our next general election -- that is, after 2015. For Britain's fine bankers, concentrating on this year's bonuses, that sounds a long way away. For the critics who would like to see our system controlled and reformed, it sounds as if David Cameron's Government is about to kick this plan into the long grass where it can lie quietly for others to deal with in the future. This is Peter Allen for CBS News In London.