Bank of England

The new Governor of the Bank will have unprecedented powers to direct and regulate the UK banking and monetary system. He will need to work closely with the government of the day, so that Bank policy is complementary to fiscal policy and to the government’s legislative priorities. He will need to shape and lead the team at the Bank to use the new powers wisely, in the national interest. He will need to decide what to do with the large QE programme he inherits, and what to do about the malfunctioning banks still with large state shareholdings.

Let us hope the new Governor is someone with good judgement about the state of the UK economy and its position in the world. I suggest there are two crucial tests of an individual’s past judgement. Did they realise the Exchange Rate Mechanism would be damaging to the UK? Did they understand how tying the pound to the DM in the early days would lead to faster inflation, and then the opposite once the inflationary effects undermined confidence in sterling? And did they read the 2005-10 cycle correctly? Did they understand that credit and money was too loose in the period up to 2007, and did they understand that this was corrected too abruptly in 2007-8, jeopardising the liquidity and even the solvency of some banks?

Did Mr Carney see the problems with ERM membership prior to our entry, and the dangers of DM shadowing. Did he think the previous policy of money targeting , as the German Central Bank did, was a safer way of controlling events? Did he argue for tighter monetary control with higher interest rates in the boom phase prior to 2007, and argue for a more rapid injection of liquidity in 2007-8? This approach should be allied to controlled administration for any bank that could not meet its obligations, is something that has now been adopted as policy for future crises. Clearly when he took over as Canada’s Central Bank Governor he did understand the need for easier money. Let us hope he has studied the unhappy monetary history of the UK and formed the right conclusions from the torrid and bumpy ride the Establishment gave us, both through its espousal of the ERM and its encouragement of Boom/Bust in the noughties.

Today the priority is to assist the government in its wish to promote faster growth. This in turn will help bring the budget deficit down. The Bank needs to relax immediate controls over bank capital and cash, whilst maintaining a more prudent level than in the period prior to 2007 to assist the recovery. There will be time to demand higher levels of cash and capital once the recovery is underway and as banks generate better profits. The Bank also needs to ensure its current policies of QE and Funding for lending are well designed to maximise the beneficial impact of these extraordinary interventions.

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45 Comments

  1. Normandee
    Posted February 1, 2013 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    So where’s he going to stand on Europe ? Is he being brought in at great expense to be another cuckoo in the nest ?

    • pete
      Posted February 1, 2013 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

      I saw his name on a Bilderberg list. If true I don’t think that takes too much working out….

      • Jerry
        Posted February 2, 2013 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

        @pete: Only if one believes in the “Bilderberg conspiracy”…

        Were the new governor stands on Europe (or indeed just the EU) is surely irrelevant as that is way above even his pay grade, if you -or indeed “Normandee”- wants to know what position the UK government will be taking best you ask someone like Mr Cameron.

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 2, 2013 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      Well the new bank governor was appointed with cast jelly Cameron as PM (as was Lord Patten to the BBC) so what do you think?

  2. Terry
    Posted February 1, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Let’s face it, there’s nothing anyone can do now to save the economy from collapsing further. The National Debt is increasing by the day and the BoE now owns more Gilts than any other organisation. What happens when our Gilts are off-loaded by the independents? The prices will fall and their yields will soar and the BoE will be left with a huge loss.
    Across the pond I see that since the Fed added another $45 Billions of QE per month the T Bond Yields have been rising. That does not bode well for Bank Interest Rates. Once they start rising, Equities will be off-loaded. What has happened during 2013 is a repeat of 2000 when the dot.com bubble pumped up more then blew, quite catastrophically. Interest rates are artificially, at a low, propping up the Housing market but once the Gilt prices collapse then Mortgagees will have serious problems with their repayments. Defaults and foreclosures will soar.
    Had the Government and BoE provided immediate short term liquidity for the bad banks then followed up with tax cuts across the board with serious cuts in Public expenditure, we would not be faced with what is around the corner. Deflation and then probably, a Depression. All coming to a place near you, very shortly.

    Reply: The OBR forecasts rising interest rates and falling bond prices, alongside growth.

    • oldtimer
      Posted February 1, 2013 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

      One rational conclusion about the USA`s continuing QE programme is that it represents a deliberate (but unspoken) attempt to devalue the dollar vs the renminbi. China was reluctant to revalue except under its own terms (ie slowly). But China is a huge holder of US Treasury stock, so it on the hook. It is one reason, along with the rapid development of shale gas and a drop in US energy prices, why manufacturing is starting to return to the USA.

      The UK is in a more awkward position because many foreign holders of gilts fled at the onset of the banking crisis, causing a sharp devaluation at the time. They have only been willing to invest in Britain in real assets or strong brands. This has helped cause higher inflation through import costs. Coupled with an increasing tax burden and policy-inflated energy prices it is no surprise the UK economy has been flat-lining at best. If Carney can achieve a shift in policy in these areas he will make a positive contribution; but that seems unlikely to me.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted February 1, 2013 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

        But that sharp devaluation of sterling was completed by the end of 2008, and its inflationary effects should have fed through the system long ago.

        The over-valued all time high of the sterling trade weighted index was 106.8045 on January 23rd 2007, and the under-valued all time low was 73.7560 on December 30th 2008; after which it recovered over some months to roughly stabilise round about 80, and it’s been bumping along at that sort of level for nearly four years now:

        http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/boeapps/iadb/fromshowcolumns.asp?Travel=NIxIRxSUx&FromSeries=1&ToSeries=50&DAT=RNG&FD=1&FM=Jan&FY=1963&TD=1&TM=Feb&TY=2013&VFD=Y&CSVF=TT&C=IIN&Filter=N&html.x=15&html.y=25

        • Gary
          Posted February 1, 2013 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

          The effects of the inflation are currently in the gilts market. The velocity of money and inflationary pricing is in the gilt trade between the unholy triad of the central bank, govt and selected broker-dealer banks. The largest gilt bubble in 300 years. The rest of the economy is gasping for cash to meet interest payments.

          Statistically, unless you believe in monetary perpetual motion, those are not good odds to bet against. The only question that remains, when that bubble bursts and the effects leak out into prices in the general economy, what value does the market put on sterling ?

          If printing money solved economic problems, there would never be any economic problems. So, now we must wait for the consequences, and they are ahead of us, not behind.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted February 2, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

            Yes, but oldtimer was referring to consumer price inflation, not asset price inflation.

      • Rob
        Posted February 2, 2013 at 2:07 am | Permalink

        I’ve thought that the US is deliberately devaluing the dollar as a means of attacking the Chinese economy for some years now.

        As soon as China started massively increasing its military and R&D spending, as well forming the China-Iran-Russia axis wih Iran & Russia I suspected that there would be some form of economic retaliation from the West.

        It is predicted that China will overtake the US in R&D spending in 10 years. It has also just built its first aircraft carrier and stealth fighter, and many people I know who have had discussions with the Chinese public on their visits there have said the West “should not trust the Chinese rulers”.

        The buying up of Africa for its resources is worrying for the West too.

        And who handed over a decades worth of intellectual property to the Chinese just to make a relatively short term quick buck from cheap human labour? Now look where it’s got us. The Chinese are also now heavily investing in “3D Printing” too as they know there’s no future in cheap labour when machines will soon take over it all.

        As I see it the West had no choice but to bust the financial system

    • Bob
      Posted February 1, 2013 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      “Reply: The OBR forecasts rising interest rates and falling bond prices, alongside growth. “

      Phew!
      What a relief!
      Thanks John.
      Terry had me worried for a moment there.

      • Acorn
        Posted February 2, 2013 at 8:43 am | Permalink

        Too true Bob! My pension fund is full of Guilts, so not only is there value going to drop but the currency they are denominated in is going down. I wish I had bought those index linked Guilts like the BoE staff pension fund did.

        • Bob
          Posted February 2, 2013 at 11:38 am | Permalink

          @Acorn
          It’s amazing how the BoE’s pension fund managers inflation proofed the BoE pensions, and made the decision without any insider knowledge (because that would be illegal).

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted February 2, 2013 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

          Henry V, Prologue to Act II:

          “O England! model to thy inward greatness,
          Like little body with a mighty heart,
          What mightst thou do, that honour would thee do,
          Were all thy children kind and natural!
          But see thy fault! France hath in thee found out
          A nest of hollow bosoms, which he fills
          With treacherous crowns; and three corrupted men,
          One, Richard Earl of Cambridge, and the second,
          Henry Lord Scroop of Masham, and the third,
          Sir Thomas Grey, knight, of Northumberland,
          Have, for the gilt of France,–O guilt indeed!
          Confirm’d conspiracy with fearful France;
          And by their hands this grace of kings must die”

    • APL
      Posted February 1, 2013 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

      JR: “The OBR forecasts rising interest rates and falling bond prices, alongside growth. ”

      Would those forecasts be anything like the laughable BOE inflation rate ‘fan charts’ forecasts? Yes they correctly forecast the inflation rate, but only because they plotted every possible inflation rate between 1% and 5%.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted February 2, 2013 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      Reply to Reply–I don’t know much, but given the truly enormous levels of debt, rising incontinently all the time, I don’t see how rising interest rates is going to be anything but catastrophic–and, Yes, of course interest rates will go up soon from the recent very unusually and artificially low levels. I sometimes think that bandying the numbers about, albeit that they are mind-boggling, gives a false sense that somehow everything is under control, which it clearly is not. One look at those frightening graphs where the right hand side suddenly goes up a vertical cliff is all I need to know. No votes in a serious attempt at reduction of course.

  3. Denis Cooper
    Posted February 1, 2013 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    There’s an important omission running through this article, and that’s the legal constraints which were supposed to be set by the Bank of England Act 1998.

    Those constraints have not been removed through later legislation, and as far as I know there are no plans to do that; so isn’t it long overdue for the Chancellor to adopt one of these three courses?

    1. Insist that the Bank must fulfill its statutory duty to give priority to meeting his existing inflation target; or

    2. Provide the Bank with a new, more relaxed, inflation target; or

    3. Invoke the part of the Act that deals with “Treasury’s reserve powers”, Section 19:

    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/11/section/19

    and so suspend the independence of the Bank with respect to monetary policy.

    On a similar theme, isn’t it also long overdue for the Chancellor to explain to MPs the precise legal basis on which he and his predecessor have authorised the Bank to create large sums of new money, and for MPs to insist that he must not do this again without their prior approval through a vote?

    Reply Parliament could demand a vote anytime on QE, but the Opposition does not do so as it seems to agree with it.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted February 2, 2013 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      Of course the Opposition leaders will be reluctant to question something that was started by one of their own, Darling, and the government is not going to invite questions about something that its own Chancellor has continued; so it’s down to backbench MPs to hold the executive to account and assert the rights of the House of Commons.

  4. Bryan
    Posted February 1, 2013 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    According to the ‘The Downing Street Years’ Mrs Thatcher was against tying the pound to the DM but discovered Mr Lawson was doing this and hiding it from her.

    She was also bounced into agreeing to join the ERM, much against her intuition, but stood solid when it came to EMU.

    After all these years she is still proved right!

    Reply: Yes, I advised her not to shadow the DM and pointed out we were.

  5. Denis Cooper
    Posted February 1, 2013 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    Off-topic:

    http://euobserver.com/news/118925

    “Dutch PM: Eurozone needs exit clause”

  6. uanime5
    Posted February 1, 2013 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    Given that the Government is planning further cuts to benefits, which will result in the unemployed and low paid having even less money, I doubt there will be increased growth. Reducing the disposable income of large parts of the population will just result in less spending by the public and less growth.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/tensions-rise-as-ministers-press-for-deeper-cuts-to-welfare-8476011.html

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted February 2, 2013 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      unanime

      Thankfully we have you to point the way, Clearly the nasty rich employers should be forced to pay much higher salaries (without going bankrupt or putting up prices of course). I don’t know, but I somehow doubt that you own and run an SME.

      And the constant repetition of the evil of the “cut” to 45% becomes wearisome, that’s apart from being misleading because if memory serves one of the last things Brown and Co did was increase to 50% from 40% so 45% is more of an increase over and above what it had been for many years rather than the “cut” it is constantly portrayed as.

      You don’t want to hear it, and believe it or not I do have sympathy for the poor and low paid, but like it or lump it, the welfare state is completely out of control. Life just doesn’t work the way you would like it too.

      • Jerry
        Posted February 2, 2013 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

        Leslie Singleton: “Thankfully we have you to point the way, Clearly the nasty rich employers should be forced to pay much higher salaries

        No, but perhaps they should be paying both a fair tax rate and all their taxes?

        The point “unanime” was making is about the so called trickle-down effect, and the problem with it as a policy for growth – of course if the “rich” would just do as the government wants them to do – fund start ups, invest in existing businesses to finance growth and jobs or even just go on a spending spree you and others might have a point.

      • uanime5
        Posted February 2, 2013 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

        Given that my comment was about benefit cuts for those in work I have no idea why you thought I was talking about the upper tax rate or the low wages paid to employees.

        Also the welfare system isn’t out of control. It’s responding to what people like you want, a country where employers can pay their employees a pittance in order to remain “competitive” while the cost of living continues to rise so companies can continue to make larger profits.

        • Leslie Singleton
          Posted February 2, 2013 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

          unanime–Clearly you didn’t read the link you kindly gave us thoroughly enough and I repeat I’d like to see you run a business according to your lights. If the government didn’t bear down on employers in a host of ways, in particular forcing employers to do all manner of unnecessary tasks that, if done at all, should be the responsibility of the government itself or the employees whilst, amazingly, charging (instead of paying) employers via Employers’ NI for the privilege, employers would doubtless pay more. You should be living in some kind of communist community with a command economy. This is or at least was England.

    • Jerry
      Posted February 2, 2013 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

      @uanime5: Yes, there is an argument to be had on “Trickle-up”, surely such a policy should not be cast out of hand as it is, was Roosevelt’s 1933-38 New Deal such an abject economic failure?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted February 2, 2013 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      For God’s sake, the government has only been able to continue welfare payments because the Bank of England has been induced to create £375 billion of new money and use it to rig the gilts market. Otherwise, Darling would not have been able to carry on borrowing a quarter of all the money he was spending in the year leading up to the general election, and afterwards Osborne would have found himself in a similar position and then you would have found out what “cuts” in government spending really means.

      Look at Greece, where the government was literally running out of money to pay its bills, and reflect that if the pro-euro faction in the UK had got its way then the Labour government would not have been able to tide itself over to the next election by printing money.

      But just as the government could not carry on indefinitely spending four pounds for every three pounds it got in, so also it cannot carry on indefinitely printing vast sums of new money.

      As Gary correctly points out above:

      “If printing money solved economic problems, there would never be any economic problems.”

      • Jerry
        Posted February 2, 2013 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

        @Denis Cooper: “For God’s sake, the government has only been able to continue welfare payments because the Bank of England has been induced to create £375 billion of new money and use it to rig the gilts market.

        Denis, your point being what exactly, for God’s sakes, should the poor be simply left to starve?

        Look at Greece, where the government was literally running out of money to pay its bills,

        Yes and why is that Denis, was it not because (until now) to many people considered tax to be an optional payment. All this wasn’t caused by the poor nor their benefits, they are just what suffered.

        As for sorting out economic problems, it might well be true that QE (and literally printing money) has never solved such problems but nor has giving tax cuts to the super-rich (top 2%) or not collecting other due taxes (closing loop-holes in both personal and corporate tax rules etc.) either – just look at Greece, or the national debt of the USA…

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted February 3, 2013 at 9:56 am | Permalink

          The point was clear enough, Jerry, for God’s sake:

          “But just as the government could not carry on indefinitely spending four pounds for every three pounds it got in, so also it cannot carry on indefinitely printing vast sums of new money.”

          Or do you think that it could?

          • Jerry
            Posted February 3, 2013 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

            @Denis: Unless you want these people to starve there is only three choices, either borrow the shortfall [1], collect more taxes or cut other -less essential- expenditure.

            As you neither want tax increases nor (I assume) the poor to starve, perhaps you might like to list some (actual current and real) government expenditure that could be cut instead?

            [1] either real or created money, both of which will need to be paid back at some point, probably with interest/inflation

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted February 3, 2013 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

            My question was first and you should answer it first.

            “But just as the government could not carry on indefinitely spending four pounds for every three pounds it got in, so also it cannot carry on indefinitely printing vast sums of new money.”

            Or do you think that it could?

      • uanime5
        Posted February 2, 2013 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

        Welfare costs keep rising because the cost of living keeps rising faster than wages. So any cuts to benefits will reduce millions of people’s disposable income, result in less spending the economy contracting even more.

    • Jerry
      Posted February 2, 2013 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

      @uanime5: Yes indeed, there should be a proper debate around the merits of both “Trickle-down” and Trickle-up

      (If this is a repeat reply then sorry but the first appeared to vanish into the Ether)

  7. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted February 1, 2013 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    Quick! where’s Mr king….

  8. Wilko
    Posted February 1, 2013 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    The Bank of England is described as independent in some ways. If its new Governor has unprecedented powers but is expected to adhere to Govt priorities, perhaps not much would be different from the Chancellor of the Exchequer bearing responsibility in the way that others previously have.

  9. Monty
    Posted February 1, 2013 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    “He will need to work closely with the government of the day, so that Bank policy is complementary to fiscal policy and to the government’s legislative priorities…..

    …Let us hope the new Governor is someone with good judgement ”

    Surely there is a rather fundamental clash of requirements there? No-one possessed of sound judgement and common sense, would readily tie himself to the legislative priorities of a floundering headless chicken.

    • margaret brandreth-j
      Posted February 2, 2013 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

      I keep wanting to sing ” oh Canada, I could drink a case of you and still I would be on my feet , yes I would still be on my feet”

  10. Antisthenes
    Posted February 2, 2013 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    We have used inverse solutions to our problems. We are using government control and diktat to stimulate demand and at the same time we are distorting the supply side. If we are ever going to solve our crises economically, socially and politically we have to do the direct opposite to what we are doing. Government, technocrats and politicians are the problem as they have an over inflated opinion of their infallibility. They plan and control that which they cannot only the billions of people interacting in markets give an accurate picture of what demand and supply should be from which supply and demand is constantly being optimised. Governments sole role should be that of creating and maintaining an effective rule of just law and safe environment that encourages honesty and fairness. The BoE should be just another instrument in doing that they should not be involved in setting interest rates and money supply when the market place is by far a better place for these things to be decided.

    • Jerry
      Posted February 2, 2013 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

      @Antisthenes: “only the billions of people interacting in markets give an accurate picture of what demand and supply should be from which supply and demand is constantly being optimised. Governments sole role should be that of creating and maintaining an effective rule of just law and safe environment that encourages honesty and fairness.

      Isn’t that what governments generally did in the years after WW1 and preceding September 4, 1929?…

  11. Derek Emery
    Posted February 2, 2013 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    The problem for the UK is the fall in aggregate demand since around 2009 – see economics blog http://www.economicshelp.org/blog/4493/economics/how-to-increase-economic-growth/
    The coalition pays too much attention to how government can increase aggregate demand by government projects and virtually ignores to the private sector. Government projects are by nature long winded over decades and have low returns, often requiring pulling in adjacent activities to create any supposed profit at all.

    By far the quickest to be able to turn round are create economic growth year on year is the private sector. It also doesn’t rely on adjacent activities outside the company to create a profit as that would not be acceptable to accountancy rules.
    As the economics blog points out demand fell in 2009 due to credit crunch, fall in customer confidence, rise in unemployment and falling house prices. In 2011 demand was weak because of government cuts, fear of unemployment, negative wage growth as wages are not increasing to match inflation and a continued credit crunch. Things are little different in 2012 and why should they be any different in 2013 and 2014?

  12. zorro
    Posted February 2, 2013 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    I will take John’s questions in paragraph 2 and 3 as rhetorical, as we have already discussed Mr Carney’s pedigree and how he has ‘assisted’ European matters previously, particularly in his role as co-head of GS sovereign risk and his work in the 1998 Russian financial crisis. Be in no doubt that this man is a committed globalist who will let inflation rip in this country for supposed nominal GDP growth…..all the time concentrating wealth into the hands of the few and shrinking the middle classes.

    zorro

    • Jerry
      Posted February 2, 2013 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

      @Zorro: “all the time concentrating wealth into the hands of the few and shrinking the middle classes.

      By that do you mean that for some/many living standards will fall, if so (and please don’t take offence anyone) then perhaps many of these people should not have been elevated to the middle class if the only way it was done was via the use of Debt?

      In the 1970s people started to live beyond their means, funding it by unrealistic wage claims, the result was rampant inflation, in the last decade or so many people once again started to live beyond their means, but this time by the use of Debt (with some encouragement by both banks and governments I might add), that debt has now been called-in and yes the result just might also be rampant inflation as individuals and institutions attempt to reduce the debt. The next few (or more) years could be an interesting ride, hold on to your hats… :(

      • sm
        Posted February 3, 2013 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

        many of these people should not have been elevated to the middle class if the only way it was done was via the use of Debt?

        Some had little choice .. rent expensively with little tenure or buy at elevated levels.. induced by a monetary boom. If control of the money supply was not privately abused for private gain, there would be less people suffering from ursury and or inflation taxes.

        • Jerry
          Posted February 4, 2013 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

          @sm: “Some had little choice .. rent expensively with little tenure or buy at elevated levels.

          Yes and whose fault was that, no one needed to do this in the 1970s, even less the 1950s or 1960s, back then each of the two main political parties would contest elections by boasting about how many council houses they had built or what they had or would do about rent control and security of tenure etc….

          But even if they didn’t have the choices that existed before they could have done as people used to do, save up the (required) mortgage deposit rather than take out anything up to 110% mortgages, even if they had to take out a 110% mortgage they need not have used credit cards (and then maxed them out) buying luxury white and electronic goods, and even had they needed to buy such goods new they could have then bought a second hand car rather than taking out even more credit to fund that new BMW parked out in front etc. etc. For gods sake, some people were even paying off one credit card with another, or opening another credit card so they could transfer the debt and thus get another months ‘credit’, and thus some people were never actually paying down their debt – go figure…

          I’m not against debt, I am against excess debt or avoidable debt, the UK (if not developed world) has been drunk on credit for the last 20 odd years and more, now the hangover has hit and the headache and sickness is likely to be long and painful.

  13. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted February 2, 2013 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    To run the British economy well, Mr Osborne needs to adorn his Treasury office with two framed entities. On one wall will be photographic portraits of the three heroes of Epiphany 1958 (Peter Thorneycroft, Enoch Powell and Nigel Birch), the only post war Treasury team that tried to stop inflation dead in its tracks. On the opposite wall, he needs the simple slogan: “If you’re spending too much, spend less.”

    That and a good brain are all that he needs in order to give the correct instructions to the Government of the Bank of England.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood has been the Member of Parliament for Wokingham since 1987. First attending Kent College, Canterbury, he graduated from Magdalen College, and has a DPhil from All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.
    Published and promoted by Thomas Puddy for John Redwood, both of 30 Rose Street Wokingham RG40 1XU
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