HM Treasury series 4: institutional relations, 2015

HM Treasury and Europe 

22 April 2015

Sir Jon Cunliffe, Deputy Governor (Financial Stability), Bank of England

Sir Nigel Wicks, Chairman, British Bankers’ Association

Sir Stephen Wall, Author, The Official History of Britain and the European Community

Between 2002 and 2007, Sir Jon Cunliffe was Second Permanent Secretary at HM Treasury, Managing Director of the Macroeconomic and International Finance Directorate. He was responsible for UK macroeconomic policy, international and EU policy and financial services and the Government’s representative at the meetings of the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee. Between 1990 and 2002, Sir Jon held various posts at HM Treasury, including Managing Director for Financial Regulation and posts on EU and international finance.  He led the Treasury’s work on operational independence of the Bank of England; European Monetary Union; and the international financial system. Prior to that Sir Jon held a number of posts at the Department of Transport and the Environment.

Sir Nigel Wicks is the Chairman of the British Bankers’ Association and a Director of The Edinburgh Investment Trust plc. Sir Nigel stood down as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Euroclear plc on December 31st 2012. He has served on many committees and boards in the public and private sectors, including as Commissioner, the Jersey Financial Services Commission. He was a member of the British Civil Service for 32 years, having worked at HM Treasury, the British Embassy in Washington, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and as Principal Private Secretary to Margaret Thatcher and Private Secretary to James Callaghan and Harold Wilson.

Sir Stephen Wall joined the Diplomatic Service in 1968 and worked closely with five British Foreign Secretaries. He was Foreign Policy Adviser to John Major and EU adviser to Tony Blair.  He was British Ambassador to Portugal from 1993 to 1995, Permanent Representative to the European Union from 1995 to 2000 and Head of the European Secretariat in the Cabinet Office from 2000 to 2004.


HM Treasury and the International Monetary Fund

12 May 2015

Professor Ben Clift, Professor of Political Economy, University of Warwick

Professor Jim Tomlinson, Professor of Economic and Social History, University of Glasgow

Britain’s relationship with the IMF is commonly understood largely in the context of crises in which the IMF ‘bailed-out’ Britain (1967 and 1976). But since the foundation of the Fund in the 1940s, Britain has been in almost constant discussion and negotiation with the IMF about its domestic as well as international economic policies as a result of both frequent borrowing from the Fund and the regular consultations under the IMF Agreements. Because of this relationship, the IMF has developed as a key institution in determining the credibility of British policy stances and, as a result, conformity with the Fund’s (perceived) wishes has been widely used to frame domestic political debate about economic policy. As a lender to Britain and its role in shaping the credibility of British policy, the Fund has also acted as a significant (albeit contested) conduit for changing ideas of how economic policy is conducted. Thus key arguments about the scope for control of monetary aggregates, the optimal fiscal stance, and the desirability of policy rules rather than discretion in national economic management, have all been shaped by interactions between the Fund and British governments. This session will examine the evolution of this relationship up to and including the crisis of 2008.


HM Treasury and Parliament 

18 June 2015 

Professor George Peden, Emeritus Professor, University of Stirling 

Stephen Wiles, HM Treasury's Parliamentary Clerk

How does HM Treasury interact with a succession of ministers, each with a distinctive personality, political beliefs, and working methods? This presentation considers several examples, including Lloyd George, Winston Churchill, Neville Chamberlain, Peter Thorneycroft and Enoch Powell. The session will reflect on such issues as: how do officials deal with a ‘difficult’ Chancellor?  What are the proper bounds of friendship between an official and an ex-Chancellor? Should the Treasury support officials in another department against their minister? What happens when Treasury officials disagree with the Chancellor’s policy? Has the recruitment of economists strengthened the hand of the Treasury when dealing with politicians?


HM Treasury, the Bank of England and the Mint  

26 June 2015 

Professor Forrest Capie, Professor Emeritus of Economic History, Case Business School, London

Dr Anthony Hotson, University of Oxford, former economist at the Bank of England

Ever since the Bank was founded a relationship existed with government. The Bank lent to, or organized funds for, government and received privileges in return. In the financial crises of the nineteenth century the Bank did whatever government insisted. By the 1930s the Governor Montagu Norman said he was a servant of the Treasury. But in the post-Second World War years there was increasing tension with the Bank clinging to its ‘independence’ and the Treasury ever more aggressively seeking control. A low point from the Bank’s perspective was reached in the 1980s.

This presentation considers the reaction of HM Treasury Commissioners to the problems presented by the great currency crisis of 1695. William Lowndes, Secretary to the Treasury Commissioners, developed proposals to devalue the silver coinage, but the policy was rejected in the light of John Locke’s criticisms. Thereafter, Isaac Newton, in his capacity as Master of the Mint, found ways of modifying the currency without contradicting Locke’s dicta, culminating in the currency reforms of 1717-18. This episode illustrates the ways in which influential outsiders can gain control of the policy agenda, and the means whereby officialdom can regain the initiative.


HM Treasury and No. 10 Downing Street 

21 July 2015 


Dr Andrew Blick, Institute of Contemporary British History, King's College London 

The relationship between the Treasury and No.10, and within that the two individuals at the summit of these institutions, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Prime Minister, is crucial to the effectiveness of any government.

This presentation considers the long-term structural background to this issue, how it has changed over time, and what have been the political and policy consequences. It shows how, from the early eighteenth to mid-nineteenth century, rather than being distinct from the Treasury, the emerging office of Prime Minister was generally founded in the Treasury. Individuals regarded as the 'first minister' were usually the First Lord of the Treasury, which in  this  earlier  era  meant  they  had  direct  responsibility  for  the  Treasury,  in  effect  a 'Department of the Prime Minister'. The session will then discuss how, from the mid-nineteenth century, the premiership began to separate from the Treasury, with Chancellors of the  Exchequer  becoming  powerful  front-rank  Cabinet ministers  in  their  own  right.  It considers the dynamics that then developed in this new setting.



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