POLITICS

George Osborne Mocked For Picking 'People He Plays Golf With' For Bank Of England's Committee

13/03/2014 09:58 GMT | Updated 13/03/2014 09:59 GMT
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George Osborne and his Treasury officials have been mocked for continuing to pick people that "they play golf with" for the Bank of England's nine-man Monetary Policy Committee, as the chancellor failed to draft in any women since he took over.

This comes as statistics released by the Treasury after a Freedom of Information request from the Huffington Post UK showed how shockingly few women have applied for each of the four posts that opened up since May 2010 on the committee, which oversees the future path of UK interest rates.

george osborne

The gulf of women on the MPC has seen George Osborne forced to fend off accusations of a Tory "women problem" as the Treasury has ultimate responsibility for approving the appointments of all the members.

Teresa Pearce, Labour member of the Treasury select committee, told HuffPostUK: "When recruiting, people choose people they feel most comfortable with, and they feel comfortable with people who are like them. Until we have true diversity, we have to expect they will still choose people they play golf with."

The Treasury revealed that the interview panel deciding on the best candidate to replace Paul Tucker as the Bank's deputy governor "expressed disappointment that fewer than five of these applicants were female" out of a total of 27. The post ended up going to former Treasury official Jon Cunliffe.

bank of england monetary policy committee

Bank of England's all-male MPC meets in 2012, with then deputy governor Paul Tucker now replaced by Sir Jon Cunliffe

Andrea Leadsom, Tory member of the Treasury select committee, told HuffPostUK: "It's hard to know why so few women apply. Under the new Governor, I hope numbers will increase, he has certainly made clear his desire to see a better balance of gender in the interest of achieving a diverse and challenging range of views at the bank. All those top calibre women out there - give it a go!"

Treasury minister Sajid Javid recently caused controversy for suggesting that women did not merit being on the committee as he said that "all appointments are made on merit".

Labour shadow treasury minister Cathy Jamieson said: "It’s pretty outrageous for a Treasury Minister to imply that the reason there are no women on the Monetary Policy Committee is because appointments are based on merit."

“These comments reflect a deeper problem within David Cameron’s government, which is totally out of touch with women across the country."

As MPs heckled him, Javid went on: "The government would like to see more women on the MPC and will encourage them to apply. It is also worth noting there have already been four women that have been part of the MPC."

Ironically, the four female MPC members Javid deemed "worth noting" were appointed under the previous Labour government.

Bank of England governor Mark Carney was revealed by HuffPostUK to have piled pressure on Osborne to consider appointing female economists to the Bank's MPC.

Ex-MPC member professor Danny Blanchflower told HuffPostUK that the all-male makeup was an indication of the Tories' "problem with women".

He said: "It doesn't seem to be that hard to find high quality female economists to join the MPC and other public bodies. The Tories do seem to have a problem with women.

"Economics has increasing numbers of women, my own department at Dartmouth has six female economists and my colleague at the University Stirling, Sheila Dow, looks like a highly qualified candidate for the MPC and there are many others. My friend Rachel Lomax was a fantastic Deputy Governor."