LONDON (Reuters) - The Bank of England’s newest deputy governor came under criticism from lawmakers on Tuesday for sticking too closely to the central bank’s orthodoxy and faced tough questions about her family’s links to the banking industry.
Charlotte Hogg, who was named to sit on the BoE’s most powerful policymaking committees this month, was challenged by lawmakers to show how she would be independent from established BoE thinking.
Currently the Bank’s chief operating officer, Hogg joins the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) at a critical juncture for Britain’s economy ahead of its divorce with the European Union.
Hogg said she would be able to stand up to BoE Governor Mark Carney. But on some issues, especially the management of the bank’s massive bond-buying stimulus program, lawmakers said she had not challenged the central bank’s existing thinking.
“I am looking for evidence to suggest that you have had a go. In that exchange I haven’t found it yet,” Andrew Tyrie, head of parliament’s Treasury Committee, said.
Hogg replied: “I really do try and serve the objectives that I have been given and that means that if I agree I will agree but if I differ I will differ.”
She replaces Minouche Shafik as deputy governor for banking and markets in March and has little public profile as an economist. Hogg said her experience in consumer finance brought another perspective to policymaking.
Hogg, whose appointment does not require approval by parliament, will manage the BoE’s balance sheet, a politically sensitive issue since the Bank has accumulated 435 billion pounds ($541 billion) of British government debt to help the economy since the global financial crisis.
Tyrie said Hogg was repeating “Bank theology” on quantitative easing.
The BoE is currently grappling with rising inflation - which is set to sail past the BoE’s 2 percent target in the coming months - against the risks of increasing interest rates just as the unpredictable Brexit process begins.
Hogg said her own tolerance for a temporary overshoot of inflation would depend on whether the effect of sterling’s post-Brexit fall faded over the next one or two years, adding that she saw risks in either direction for Britain’s economy.
Hogg was asked how her brother’s role as a strategy executive at Barclays (BARC.L) might conflict with her duties as a member of the Prudential Regulation Committee, which oversees the country’s banks, if Barclays were to arise as an issue.
“I haven’t sat on the PRC yet. I think it’s certainly a possibility that I could recuse myself,” Hogg said, adding that she had not considered removing herself from decisions on Barclays before Tuesday’s hearing in parliament.
She also said she saw no potential for conflict of interest over her mother’s role as a non-executive director of the Financial Conduct Authority, Britain’s main regulator to combat irregularities in markets.
One member of the Treasury Committee asked if she was “simply another member of the banking establishment”. Hogg said she was “incredibly lucky with the family that I was born into” but had built her own career.
Writing by Andy Bruce; editing by William Schomberg and Ed Osmond