Bank of England denies it is in talks with SNP on independence

Bank of England 'held no talks with SNP' over split. Picture: PA
Bank of England 'held no talks with SNP' over split. Picture: PA
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The Bank of England has said it is not in direct talks with the SNP government about the prospect of Scotland continuing to use the pound if it votes for independence.

Finance secretary John Swinney told the House of Lords economic committee earlier this week that dialogue with the Bank was under way.

But a spokesman said yesterday: “The Bank of England did no more than answer technical questions from representatives of the Scottish Government.

“We have not entered a dialogue about the possibility of changing monetary arrangements for Scotland in future.”

The SNP administration wants Scotland to retain the pound in the event of independence, by forming a sterling zone with the remainder of the UK.

Alex Salmond told MSPs yesterday there had been dialogue with the Bank of England about co-operation with a fiscal commission that is looking at any post-independence scenario.

He said during First Minister’s Questions that Mr Swinney had said the “Scottish Government is engaged with the Bank of England to discuss factual and technical matters around proposals for a macroeconomic framework”.

Mr Salmond added he had held talks with Bank governor Sir Mervyn King earlier this year, but added that the institution could not take a position on the independence debate.

However, the bank was “perfectly proper in providing the resource for the technical advice” requested by the fiscal commission, Mr Salmond said.

But he faced criticism from opposition politicians after the Bank played down the contact it had had with the SNP.

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont claimed the “ministerial habit of assertion is viral”.

She said Mr Swinney had told the Lords economic committee he was having a “very helpful dialogue” with the Bank of England about keeping the pound after independence.

Ms Lamont went on: “What does the Bank say? ‘We have not entered a dialogue’.”

Mr Salmond had earlier indicated that UK government departments were not 
co-operating with the Scottish Government’s independence preparations, contrasting it with the dialogue with the Bank.

“We would engage with the UK government to discuss these matters, but department after department has refused to engage in such discussions,” he said.