The competition watchdog will regularly scrutinise Northern Rock to ensure that its new status as a publicly owned body does not give it an edge over rivals after the government caved in to opposition demands last night. Financial Times

Ministers agreed to allow the Office of Fair Trading to conduct annual reviews of Northern Rock as they sought to rush through legislation to nationalise the bank. The concession came amid a parliamentary battle that saw the government suffer three defeats in the House of Lords yesterday afternoon.

At one point it had looked likely that the proposed legislation could end up bouncing between the two houses in a stalemate. But by the evening the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in effect backed down after several concessions.

The government agreed to publish the framework agreement setting out the relationship between it and the board of Northern Rock. It has also made a technical tweak to allow the bank’s shareholders to offset their losses against capital gains tax.