Chancellor criticised over diversity commitments in Bank of England appointments
3 November 2017
Chancellor Philip Hammond has been accused of dodging questions over whether the Treasury is doing everything in its power to ensure diversity among the Bank of England's most senior staff.
In a letter to the Treasury Select Committee, Mr Hammond defended the recent appointments of Sir Dave Ramsden and Silvana Tenreyro to the Bank's interest-rate setting Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), saying his department aims to comply with relevant public codes on appointments and does "indeed seek to encourage as diverse a range of candidates as possible for the Bank's policy committee".
But Treasury Select Committee chair and Conservative MP Nicky Morgan said the Chancellor's response fell short of expectations, stressing that the Treasury could not be "complacent" when it came to raising gender and ethnic representation in its recruitment process.
"The Committee is disappointed by the Chancellor's response," she said.
"He did not confirm whether 'all efforts' are being made by the Treasury to encourage as diverse a range of candidates as possible for the Bank's policy committees and senior positions.
"Rather, the Treasury 'seeks to encourage' such diversity. Such appointments could benefit from a closer relationship between the Treasury and the Government Equalities Office," Mrs Morgan added.
"The Treasury can't be complacent in tackling the lack of diversity at the Bank's most senior levels," she said.
Mrs Morgan confirmed that the Committee is planning to push the issue when it takes evidence from the Treasury's permanent secretary Tom Scholar next month, having already been scheduled to appear in front of MPs.
The Chancellor has also been asked to publish historical data on Bank appointments, including a gender breakdown of applicants vying for membership on the Bank's rate setting MPC and Financial Policy Committee (FPC).
Mr Hammond said in his letter that he would share a summary of "anonymised" data, depending on whether applicants gave permission to do so, and would make data from the most recent round of appointments available to the Committee.
“I will write again to set out how we intend to do this,” he assured.
The Chancellor highlighted that the Bank of England has recently signed on to the Treasury’s Women in Finance Charter which aims to improve diversity in the financial sector, and would be publishing its own gender diversity targets before the end of January 2018.
Bank Governor Mark Carney revealed a snippet of a review into gender pay at the Bank as part of his own appearance in front of MPs in October.
The median gender pay gap is 24%, the mean pay gap is 21% but on an equal work for equal pay basis, Mr Carney said there is no gap.
He said the gulf exists because there are more men in senior positions at the Bank than women.
The Bank of England had two female members on the MPC just earlier this year.
Charlotte Hogg replaced outgoing MPC member Minouche Shafik this spring, temporarily keeping two women on the committee. But Ms Hogg failed to declare a conflict of interest, as her brother worked for Barclays, forcing her resignation shortly after her appointment.
Kristin Forbes has since stepped down after completing her own term, leaving recently appointed Ms Tenreyro the only woman on MPC, while Sir Dave filled the other open role.
Philip Toscano/PA Wire