Alistair Darling has unveiled proposals to make it easier for the banking authorities to take over troubled banks.

The move will enable the Bank of England and Financial Services Authority (FSA) to launch a secret takeover of a failing bank, in a bid to prevent a repeat of last year’s run on Northern Rock.

The proposals allow for emergency funding for "a period of non-disclosure".

This would mean the Bank of England did not need to publish accounts detailing funding thereby, ministers hope, avoiding a crisis of consumer confidence.

If a bank is facing outright collapse, the government would be granted the power to "take temporary ownership of all or part of a bank as a last resort".

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