The four ex-chiefs of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and HBOS admitted to having no formal banking qualifications between them in today's dramatic grilling by MPs.

Members of the Treasury Select Committee heard how not one of the witnesses - who presided over two of Britain's biggest and worst hit banks - had technical banking training.

The bosses - including former RBS chief executive Sir Fred Goodwin - were forced to defend themselves against tough questions over their suitability to lead the banks, which had to be bailed out with billions of pounds of taxpayers' cash.

Sir Fred denied he lacked experience, saying he had a degree in law and was a qualified chartered accountant, while also having worked as chief executive of the Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank before joining RBS.

Sir Tom McKillop, previously chairman of now part-nationalised RBS, said he was "certainly numerate", although he conceded he had not studied banking specifically.

Andy Hornby, who had headed HBOS until its rescue takeover by Lloyds TSB, said he had gained an MBA at Harvard Business School, while his ex-colleague Lord Stevenson said he had a history as an entrepreneurial businessman.

MPs on the committee said it had been a central recommendation of theirs in light of the Northern Rock collapse that senior banking staff should hold a banking qualification.

However, the former titans of the UK banking sector were left struggling to say how many of their board directors held such qualifications.

Mr Hornby sought to reassure that the bank's executive board had a combined experience of more than 300 years in financial services.

But one MP was met with silence from the under-fire bankers when he asked: "This committee thinks that a banking qualification is important. Does any one of you think a banking qualification is important?"

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