MPs concerned over key hiring at central bank

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Politicians have expressed “serious concerns” over the appointment of a former London Stock Exchange chief executive to the Bank of England’s stability arm.

The Commons Treasury committee voiced “reservations” about the choice of Dame Clara Furse to sit on the Bank’s financial policy committee (FPC) following a bruising pre-appointment hearing at Westminster.

The committee particularly questioned her explanation of her role as a non-executive director of the Belgian bank Fortis during its disastrous acquisition of a stake in the Dutch lender ABN Amro in 2007 which led to it being bailed out by the Belgian government.

It also raised concern about her “awareness of the importance of asserting the independence of the financial policy committee”.

The MPs stopped short of recommending her appointment should not go ahead, concluding that she did have the necessary “professional competence and personal independence” for the job.

However, committee chairman Andrew Tyrie stressed that they would expect to see evidence that their concerns had been “taken on board”.

Furse was one of three new external members of the FPC to appear before the committee.

The MPs endorsed the appointment of former Barclays chief executive Martin Taylor without comment but noted that Richard Sharp, a former Goldman Sachs banker, had accepted he needed to acquire additional “technical knowledge” to fulfil the post.