Ask Andrew Tyrie about 2013 and he explains that his year began 18 months ago.
That was when the Libor rigging scandal was exposed by a £290m fine for Barclays, unleashing a wave of anger about the behaviour of banks and resulting in the Conservative MP being appointed to chair the parliamentary commission on banking standards.
In the final days of 2013 much of that commission's work has been enshrined in law through the banking reform bill. The humdrum title of the piece of legislation hides what the government describes as "the biggest reforms to the UK banking sector in a generation", including a new law on reckless misconduct, a new licensing regime for top bankers and the "electrification" of the ringfence between high street and investment banks.
Tyrie admits he took some persuading to chair the first parliamentary commission in 100 years. In the end, he recalls, he did it because "I felt I should". The high-profile cross-party commission of MPs and peers included the former Conservative chancellor Lord Lawson and Justin Welby, who was appointed archbishop of Canterbury shortly afterwards.
The role put Tyrie and the commission members centre stage during a series of dramatic evidence sessions held by the commission, which was disbanded after its 555-page report and 114 recommendations were published in the summer.
Lawson described Lord Stevenson, the former chairman of HBOS, as "delusional", while James Crosby, who had been chief executive of the bank before it nearly collapsed, handed back his knighthood after scathing criticism by the commission.
But sitting in his large corner office in Westminster, Tyrie says it was evidence heard by the Treasury select committee of MPs – which he also chairs – from the former chairman of the Co-operative Bank that stunned him the most, before changing his mind: "At the time of the hearing that has to be Paul Flowers, I think by a short head from Lord Stevenson. On reflection, Lord Stevenson has it."
The Flowers hearing was a moment of pure theatre, Tyrie asking the Methodist minister – later exposed buying crystal meth – to tell the committee the size of the bank's assets. "You were offering me £3bn, and I am telling you that your annual accounts show it at £47bn," Tyrie told Flowers.
The exchange was typical of Tyrie, whose every sentence is carefully considered and whose acerbic comments will be ingrained in the memories of many of the witnesses who have appeared before both the committee and the commission. Tyrie – an adviser to Lawson and John Major before becoming MP for Chichester in 1997 – criticises bankers, but says his intention is not to bash them.
"This [banking] is one of Britain's best industries and if we get this right it will be even stronger," he says, dismissing arguments that the UK will drive away businesses through its reforms, which he sees as threefold: the break-up of the Financial Services Authority watchdog; the ringfencing ideas of Sir John Vickers; and the cultural changes recommended by the banking standards commission.
One of the major themes of the commission's work has been to make individuals accountable for their actions and also a call for cultural changes – which could take a generation – not just at banks but at an endless list of bodies including regulators and rating agencies.
The work of the commission has also had implications for parliament, he says. It was created instead of a judge-led inquiry and after it reported its recommendations needed to be incorporated into the bill through more than 200 amendments, largely in the Lords.
Building on the ideas of the constitutional theorist Walter Bagehot, he says: "I hope that the fact that some say this [commission] has made some progress and achieved something has contributed to other work I've been very heavily engaged in over a number of years. That is to try to put parliament a bit nearer the centre of British political life, to try to move parliament from being a dignified to an effective part of the British constitution again."
Tyrie says his favourite moment while sitting on the commission took place in private. Around the table were not just peers but MPs such as Labour's Pat McFadden and the Conservative Mark Garnier, and Tyrie realised they were going to achieve consensus on a wide range of proposals.
"It is the most satisfying moment and it's also a very pleasing moment. It wasn't a moment in the public domain," he says – one "I certainly didn't forecast when we set off".
The MPs are also members of the Treasury select committee, which will keep up the pressure on ensuring changes in the banking reform bill are seen through, including those on remuneration and whistleblowing. Tyrie lists the committee's "very large agenda" for the next 12 months as including inquiries into ending quantitative easing, the Bank of England's money-printing programme to bolster the economy, HS2, the private finance initiative, and the problems at Co-op.
That is before the scrutiny of the budget and the autumn statement – he accused George Osborne this month of a housing policy that risked adding vodka to the punchbowl just as the party gets started – and the new Bank of England governor, Mark Carney. The committee has already been seeking clarity about the Bank's new powers to take the vodka away.
So after his 18-month year is he ready to say that enough has been done to stop another banking crisis? "What we've seen in banking is no more than a reflection of the human condition. Economic history also tells us that there is an economic and a business cycle. That will bring another period of heady over-optimism, then hubris followed by crisis and, finally, overdone gloom. It is in the nature of things that this will happen again.
"All we can do is put in place rules and structures that reduce the likelihood and that increase the chance of a less painful cycle."
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