Plea to make Bank of England the ‘Bank of Britain’

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The Bank of England should be renamed to make clear it covers Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as well, a Labour peer has said.

Lord Harrison said it would be an “inclusive” act in the wake of the Scottish independence referendum and suggested calling it the Bank of England and the United Kingdom.

But his claims met with widespread disagreement across the House of Lords.

Lord Harrison said at question time in the Lords: “Given the particular saliency of the currency issue in the recent Scottish referendum, wouldn’t it be a wise act and an inexpensive and an inclusive act to extend the title of Britain’s central bank to that of the Bank of England of the United Kingdom?

“It would thereby properly recognise the reach and relevance to all four nations of the United Kingdom of our own central bank.”

Lord Newby, replying for the Government, rejected the proposal.

“Having begun life in 1694 as a commercial bank, the Bank of England predates the formation of the United Kingdom itself,” he said.

“Of course the bank’s role is not limited to England and it acts as the central bank for the whole of the UK.

“However to change its name would now represent a break from over 300 years worth of history and the prestige which it carries as a global brand.”

Lord Newby said it was a notable feature of the referendum campaign that First Minister Alex Salmond had been keen to keep the “comfort blanket” of the Bank.

“As far as I’m aware, he never suggested that its name should change,” he said.

Labour’s Lord Peston, a retired professor of economics, said changing the name would be “economically very damaging”.

Lord Davies of Oldham, for Labour, said his party was in favour of keeping the current name.

Liberal Democrat Lord Shutt of Greetland said if there was to be a change Bank of Britain would be “more solid, simple and straightforward”.