Exchange between John Redwood and Alistair Darling: quantitative easing

Mr. John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): What, if any, should be the limit on the amount that the UK Government print and borrow to avoid a run on the pound, a debt crisis or a trip to the international moneylenders?

Mr. Darling: If the right hon. Gentleman is referring to quantitative easing, he knows that I set out limits in the publicly available exchange of letters between me and the Governor of the Bank of England the week before last.


  1. Brian Tomkinson
    March 17, 2009

    Question: What number is that bus?
    Answer: It’s a red one.

    Just about sums up the usefulness of parliamentary questions.

  2. patently
    March 17, 2009

    That’s not an answer.

    You asked, in effect, what was the maximum amount the UK could cope with. He referred you to the maximum that he had allowed the Bank to go to.


    – he realises the difference, and is being deliberately economical with the truth

    – he doesn’t realise the difference, and is therefore unqualified for the office he holds, or

    – there is no difference, and we have been led up the creek without a paddle

  3. Susan
    March 17, 2009

    ? Mis-interpret the question and give a non-answer? How unusual.

  4. alan jutson
    March 17, 2009

    And Politicians in Parliament wonder why we get so bloody angry and frustrated.

    It all seems such a waste of time and effort, what is the SPEAKER FOR, I though he was to there to control Members.

    If refusal to answer a simple question is going to be allowed, then there is no real point in anyone turning up at all.

    If this is Democracy then shame on us, and shame on all of those that sit in that House.

  5. mikestallard
    March 17, 2009

    My brother was an army officer. Whenever there was any action at all, it was followed, as soon as possible by a frank and open discussion, without blame, called a debriefing.
    In that way future lives could be saved and, yes, battles won.
    What a shame that parliament does not follow this elementary precaution.

  6. Susan
    March 17, 2009

    The FCO has ‘debriefings’ too. It hasn’t helped Milliband.

  7. Denis Cooper
    March 17, 2009

    “What is the limit on the amount that the UK Government print and borrow?” is one good question.

    Another good question would be “Does Parliament have any direct control over this, or does it only need Darling and King to exchange letters?”

    I presume that at some point Parliament has granted Darling the power to authorise the printing of new money, and to direct how it should be used.

    But shouldn’t Parliament have insisted that there must be a debate and a vote in the Commons to directly approve the creation of a chunk of new money, say £5 billion, then another debate and vote in the Commons to approve the next chunk of say £5 billion, and so on?

    And with conditions attached, eg, “Don’t use this new money to buy up gilts, while you’re still issuing new gilts; use it to remove “toxic assets” from the financial system”.

    What next? Will Parliament allow the Chancellor to order tax increases simply by exchanging letters with the head of HMRC?

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