MPs threaten to block Bank appointments
MPS have threatened to block the next high-profile appointment at the Bank of England unless it hires more women, according to a warning issued by the Treasury select committee.
Serious “progress on this matter” needed to be made at Threadneedle Street before the next appointment of a senior policymaker, the statement said.
Nicky Morgan, a Tory MP and committee chairman, has written to Sir Tom Scholar, the most senior official at the Treasury, asking for an action plan on how to improve diversity in public appointments.
A failure to improve the present state of affairs at the Bank would risk MPs blocking hires to its three policy committees, which oversee financial risk, regulation and interest rates, Ms Mor- gan said.
Just 29pc of the Bank’s top roles are held by women. The first opportunity for MPs to block an appointment will come in February, when a new member of the Financial Policy Committee must be hired. MPs expressed concerns last autumn about the Bank’s gender diversity following the appointments of Sir Dave Ramsden and Prof Silvana Tenreyro. However, since October, only three out of 10 public appointments and reappointments to the Bank’s committees have been women.
Two of the most senior jobs at the Bank have since been given to men, and MPs are growing increasingly frustrated about the lack of progress in addressing its stark gender problem.
MPs gave their approval to the appointment of the two men, Prof Jonathan Haskel and Bradley Fried, but have since warned that they might not do so if another male appointment is made. Prof Haskel, an expert on productivity – one of the economy’s major challenges – was the only male candidate on a shortlist of five.
Ms Morgan said MPs were “prepared to take progress on this matter [gender diversity] into account in the next appointment made to any of the Bank of England’s policy committees”.
When the two recent male appointees were revealed in May, Labour MP and chairman of the business committee Rachel Reeves said: “Eight of the nine-strong Monetary Policy Committee are currently men and it is truly
staggering that the Treasury has failed to appoint a woman to this role.
“The fact that four women were shortlisted shows that there are plenty of capable and well-qualified women, but yet again the top jobs seem to be reserved for men.”
The Daily Telegraph understands that MPs would be prepared to use all means at their disposal to block a male appointee. It is not in the MPs power to veto a hire at the Bank, but the Treasury select committee can refuse to give its blessing.