The Bank of England governing board’s refusal to disclose its discussions during the financial crisis was “unsatisfactory” and prevented Parliament from holding the bank to account, Treasury Committee Chairman Andrew Tyrie said.
The Court of Directors refused a request from Tyrie to supply his committee with minutes of the discussions, arguing that freedom-of-information laws did not apply to the bank’s monetary policy and financial-support operations, according to correspondence between Tyrie and Court Chairman David Lees published today.
“I have been disappointed at the responses we received from the Court to our requests for information,” Tyrie said in a statement. “It is unsatisfactory to say the least that the Court should be using the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act as a reason not to provide Parliament with information.”
The central bank board faced criticism from Tyrie’s cross-party committee in March, when lawmakers accused its members of responding inadequately to Governor Mervyn King’s comments on the government’s fiscal plans. The board members had also stumbled over some facts about the bank, leading Tyrie to say he was “very concerned” about their grasp of the share of bank funding devoted to financial stability.
Tyrie said the Court’s response to his request for information was “a reflection of the problem which the committee’s inquiry into the accountability of the Bank of England has been seeking to address.”
The report, to be published in coming weeks, will make proposals on how future cases can be “more appropriately handled,” Tyrie said.