THE BBC’s business editor Robert Peston urged every adult in the country to take their part in deciding the future of the national and international economy when he visited York to give this month’s Ebor Lecture.

In a lively 45-minute talk to a packed York Minster, the well-known journalist described the causes of the recession and looked at ways forward.

He said: “This is a once in a generation chance to make sure that the crisis we have been living through happens once in a century.”

He said the men who controlled banks and carry out investment banking had become detached from society and did not understand how other people viewed them.

He described how for years, unaccountable committees had made decisions that affected the global economy without consulting people in general.

He said: “They became arrogant and we became complacent.”

He questioned whether the market was the best way to control economic matters and how democracy would cope in the recovery, which he reckoned is only a third complete and could yet end in recession again. He was loudly applauded at the end.

Mr Peston won the Royal Television Society’s Scoop Of The Year award for his exclusive on Northern Rock seeking emergency financial help from the Bank of England in 2007 and in 2008 he won the society’s Journalist Of The Year award as well as a sheaf of awards from other organisations for business, online and broadcast journalism.

Mr Peston is one of a series of big names appearing in this year's Ebor Lectures, which are organised by an ecumenical partnership of educational and religious organisations from York and Yorkshire and are held at the Minster and at York St John University.

Professor Sebastian Kim of York St John University and a member of the organising committee said: “The Ebor Lectures were established in 2006 in response to the growing need for the church to engage with public issues in the wider community.

“They are aimed at promoting debate on subjects such as the credit crisis which affect everyone. The time has come when we need to question our values in business dealings as well as in our personal lives.”