The governor of the Bank of England has postponed a rare meeting with a Tory backbench committee which would have taken place just after the chancellor’s economic update.
Andrew Bailey had been due to meet the 1922 committee on Wednesday following Rishi Sunak’s update to parliament on measures to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But the arrangement had raised eyebrows among some, including Andrew Sentance, a former member of the Bank’s rate-setting monetary policy committee.
The talk would have come shortly after Mr Sunak’s economic update, which is expected to see him unveil latest plans to combat an expected surge in unemployment.
Bank of England officials regularly update parliament in public hearings of the Treasury select committee but meetings with backbench MPs are less common.
Eddie George, who led the Bank from 1993 to 2003, was the last to have spoken to the 1922 committee.
The BoE had said that Mr Bailey would meet the MPs to explain its analysis on the impact of the pandemic and listen to their views, but pushed back the timing in a statement issued late on Monday.
It said: “Due to the chancellor’s economic update on Wednesday, the meeting between Andrew Bailey and the 1922 committee – arranged prior to the scheduling of the Chancellor’s statement – will now take place at a later date.
“The meeting is part of the governor’s ongoing programme of engagement with parliamentarians from across the House of Commons.”
Mr Sentance, who served on the Bank’s monetary policy committee from 2006 to 2011, said: “Very surprised this meeting… was organised in the first place.
“If Andrew Bailey is to talk to MPs, all parties should be invited and the meeting should be on the record, not behind closed doors.”
The government has set out plans for billions of pounds of new spending in recent days.
On the day of the chancellor’s last fiscal statement in March, the Bank of England announced a surprise cut in interest rates, and has since committed to £300bn of asset purchases, which have helped keep down borrowing costs for the government.