Bank of England

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 7th May 2014.

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Photo of David Mowat David Mowat Conservative, Warrington South 11:30 am, 7th May 2014

What discussions he has had with Ministers in the Scottish Government on the potential role of the Bank of England in the event of Scotland becoming an independent country.

Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael The Secretary of State for Scotland

I have not had any discussions with Ministers in the Scottish Government on the potential role of the Bank of England. If people in Scotland vote to leave the UK, they are voting to leave the UK institutions that support it, such as the Bank of England, which will continue to operate on behalf of the continuing UK.

Photo of David Mowat David Mowat Conservative, Warrington South

I thank the Secretary of State for that answer. The majority of my constituents hope very much that Scotland will stay in the Union, but for the avoidance of doubt, will he confirm that in the event of a yes vote, there are no circumstances under which my constituents will underwrite the borrowing and spending plans of an independent Scotland, whichever currency it uses?

Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael The Secretary of State for Scotland

I thank my hon. Friend for his support for the continuation of Scotland within the United Kingdom. The position on any currency union or central banking arrangements if Scotland were to vote for independence has been made very clear recently by the Chancellor and the Chief Secretary and also by the shadow Chancellor: there will be no such arrangements.

Photo of Ian Murray Ian Murray Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills)

In the event of an independent Scotland, will the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee take its instructions from the UK Treasury or the Scottish Government?

Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael The Secretary of State for Scotland

The Bank of England will continue to take its instructions from the UK Treasury. It is a UK institution and that would not change.

Photo of Philip Hollobone Philip Hollobone Conservative, Kettering

If Scotland separated from the United Kingdom, how would the UK’s foreign exchange reserves be reallocated?

Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael The Secretary of State for Scotland

That would be a matter to be determined in the event of Scotland voting to leave the United Kingdom. I very much hope that will not come to pass.

Photo of Stewart Hosie Stewart Hosie SNP Chief Whip, SNP Deputy Leader, Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Treasury)

The Bank of England has already sensibly engaged in technical discussions with the Scottish Government. As each day passes and a yes vote on independence becomes more likely, is it not about time this Government abandoned their bellicose scaremongering and also engaged in sensible discussions with the Scottish Government on how these institutions can continue to work, in the best interests of both countries?

Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael The Secretary of State for Scotland

Both Governments agreed in the Edinburgh agreement that there would be no question of pre-negotiation. That was a sensible situation and I am astonished that the hon. Gentleman now seeks to walk away from it.

Photo of Malcolm Bruce Malcolm Bruce Chair, International Development Committee, Deputy Leader, Liberal Democrats, Chair, International Development Committee

Does the Secretary of State agree that the Bank of England is not an asset to be shared but an institution that belongs to the United Kingdom which Scotland chooses to leave? Does he also agree that it is an extraordinary kind of independence where one wants to hand over control of one’s fiscal and monetary policy to a foreign bank?

Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael The Secretary of State for Scotland

My right hon. Friend puts it perfectly. The difference between an asset and an institution is not a difficult one to understand, but the Scottish nationalists do seem to struggle with it.