MPs threaten to block Bank ap­point­ments

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By Anna Isaac

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.

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