POLITICS

Bank Of England Recordkeeping Has 'Shades Of Nixon', Say MPs

11/03/2014 17:28 GMT | Updated 11/03/2014 17:59 GMT
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Bank of England Governor Mark Carney smiles during the bank's quarterly inflation report news conference at the Bank of England in London, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. Carney said unemployment in Britain is falling faster than anticipated, raising speculation in the markets that interest rates may start rising sooner than expected. (AP Photo/Toby Melville, Pool)

Mark Carney and Bank of England officials have been mocked by MPs for their "shades of Nixon" after it emerged that the Bank destroys records of its Monetary Policy Committee's meetings.

Under questioning by the Treasury select committee, the Bank's executive director for markets Paul Fisher defended the decision to destroy recordings as it could be "hard to follow" the "free-flowing" discussion between MPC members, who meet to discuss the future path of interest rates, and that the members may feel unable to speak frankly.

As Fisher issued his defence, one of the MPs on the Treasury select committee was heard to mutter "shades of Nixon", a reference to the former US President and his alleged attempts to destroy tapes of discussions between him and White House officials that came to light during the Watergate scandal.

Tory Treasury select committee member Andrea Leadsom told HuffPostUK: "More transparency is always a good thing."

Tory MP Andrew Tyrie, chair of the Treasury select committee, pointed out that the US Federal Reserve released transcripts of its own meetings with a five year lag.

In a statement after the meeting, he added: “I have yet to hear a good argument against keeping verbatim records of MPC meetings, published with a long time lag - probably longer than the maximum term of an external member.

“There seem to me to be a good number of arguments for keeping such records, among them, to bolster public confidence that the minutes published after MPC hearings are an accurate reflection of what was said.”

A Bank spokesman said: "When the MPC was first set up, we experimented with producing transcripts. But we quickly realised the nature of the discussion - nine economists debating current economic issues - meant that the transcripts were very difficult to follow.

"Moreover, we were concerned that the knowledge that the transcripts would be subsequently published may affect the nature of the discussion, with more formal interventions rather than free-flowing debate and discussion. As such, the MPC publish detailed minutes, two weeks after their meeting. These have been carefully written to ensure they are accessible and accurately reflect the full range of the MPC's debate, including description of all dissenting views."