Yorkshire MP Rachel Reeves accuses Government of ‘only choosing from half the gene pool’

Leeds West Labour MP Rachel Reeves Picture Tony Johnson
Leeds West Labour MP Rachel Reeves Picture Tony Johnson
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A YORKSHIRE Labour MP has accused the Government of only “choosing from half the gene pool” after it failed to appoint a female candidate to a place on the committee that sets the UK’s monetary policy.

Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves responded angrily to the announcement that Professor Jonathan Haskel has been appointed as the latest external member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC).

In a tweet, Ms Reeves said: “Four women shortlisted yet a man appointed by the Government to the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee - eight of nine members are men.

“Are we really saying only one woman should be at the top table for these crucial decisions?”

Ms Reeves, who is a former Bank of England economist, told The Yorkshire Post that she wanted the Government to recruit, promote and mentor more women. She said the Government must make sure there is a pipeline of talented women and then appoint them.

She said her message to the Government was:”Don’t just appoint people who look like those already doing the job.

“Currently they are choosing from half the gene pool, they might make better decisions if they broadened their outlook.

“This was a Treasury appointment but both the Bank and the Treasury need to do more.”

The appointment comes as gender diversity in business and finance is in the spotlight. On Wednesday, the Business Department released a list of “pitiful” excuses used by FTSE 350 firms when explaining why they have yet to appoint women to senior positions.

Businesswomen “don’t fit in” at board level or “don’t want the hassle” of top jobs, the Government’s Hampton-Alexander Review was told.

Ms Reeves added: “On the day the Hampton-Alexander Review has revealed that firms are dragging their feet on diversity and making excuses for their own failures, this appointment demonstrates the true extent of the challenge that still exists in changing the face of our corporate and financial sectors.”

A Treasury spokesman said: “We are committed to diversity and encouraging the broadest range of candidates.

“We actively contacted 44 women to apply for this role, 80 per cent of those interviewed were women and the majority of those on the interview panel were women.

“The final appointment decision was based on merit.”

Professor Haskel will be appointed for a three-year term, which will take effect from September 1.

The Chancellor, Philip Hammond said: “I am delighted that Professor Haskel is joining the MPC. I am confident that his expertise in productivity and innovation will further sharpen the committee’s understanding of the British economy. I also want to thank Ian McCafferty for his six years of service. His insights from business have been invaluable and I wish him well for the future.”

The Bank’s Governor, Mark Carney said: “I am delighted to welcome Jonathan Haskel to the Monetary Policy Committee and am very much looking forward to working with him. His broad academic experience and the depth of his knowledge on productivity and innovation will be hugely valuable to the committee.”

The Monetary Policy Committee makes decisions about the operation of monetary policy in Britain.

It comprises the Governor of the Bank of England, the three Deputy Governors, one member of the Bank with responsibility for monetary policy and four external members who are appointed by the Chancellor. External members may serve up to two three-year terms on the MPC.

Professor Jonathan Haskel, who was appointed after an open recruitment process, is currently a Professor of Economics at Imperial College Business School, where he will continue to teach part time. Prior to that he was head of the economics department at Queen Mary, University of London.