Want to be the next governor of the Bank of England?

The official advert for the post is released.

As well as the usual rhetorical barbs between Messrs Balls and Osborne, today's Treasury questions featured two significant announcements from the Chancellor. Firstly, that the autumn statement will take place on the unexpectedly late date of 5 December (presumably so Osborne has enough time to prepare his excuses), and secondly, that the process of finding a replacement for Mervyn King as governor of the Bank of England will begin this week. Osborne told MPs that "For the first time in history, the post will be advertised and the advertisement will appear in the press later this week".

This week's edition of the Economist will feature the advert, and a panel chaired by Nicholas Macpherson, the Treasury permanent secretary, will interview shortlisted candidates before recommending a name, or names, to Osborne,

So, for Staggers readers with a keen interest in monetary policy, here's said advert. And before you apply, be sure to read David Blanchflower's verdict on King's time at the helm. "A tyrant looks to his own advantage rather than that of his subjects and uses extreme and cruel tactics," the NS economics editor and former MPC member wrote, "which pretty much sums up how I feel Mervyn King has run the Bank of England in his role as governor since 2003." If you think you can do better than Mervyn, you have until 8:30 am on 8 October 2012 to get your application in.

The position of Governor of the Bank of England will fall vacant when Sir Mervyn King retires in June 2013. The Governor leads the Bank of England, and plays an important role in setting monetary and regulatory policy, chairing the Monetary Policy Committee, the Financial Policy Committee and (from next year) the board of the Prudential Regulation Authority. The Governor represents the Bank in important international fora, such as the G7, G20, the European Systemic Risk Board and the Bank of International Settlements in Basel. The Governor is an executive member of the Bank’s Court of Directors.

The Governor will work closely with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and H M Treasury, which is responsible for setting the framework under which the Bank operates.

The new Governor will lead the Bank through major reforms to the regulatory system, including the transfer of new responsibilities that will see the Bank take the lead in safeguarding the stability of the UK financial system.

The successful candidate must demonstrate that they can successfully lead, influence and manage the change in the Bank’s responsibilities, inspiring confidence and credibility both within the Bank and throughout financial markets.

The successful candidate will have experience of working in, or with, a central bank or similar institution; or will have worked at the most senior level in a major bank or other financial institution. He or she will demonstrate strong leadership, management and policy skills; will have an advanced understanding of financial markets and good economic knowledge. He or she will be a strong communicator, have good interpersonal skills and will be a person of undisputed integrity and standing.

 The closing date for all applications is 8:30 am on 8 October 2012.

The Bank of England building on Threadneedle Street in London. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Getty
Show Hide image

Air pollution: 5 steps to vanquishing an invisible killer

A new report looks at the economics of air pollution. 

110, 150, 520... These chilling statistics are the number of deaths attributable to particulate air pollution for the cities of Southampton, Nottingham and Birmingham in 2010 respectively. Or how about 40,000 - that is the total number of UK deaths per year that are attributable the combined effects of particulate matter (PM2.5) and Nitrogen Oxides (NOx).

This situation sucks, to say the very least. But while there are no dramatic images to stir up action, these deaths are preventable and we know their cause. Road traffic is the worst culprit. Traffic is responsible for 80 per cent of NOx on high pollution roads, with diesel engines contributing the bulk of the problem.

Now a new report by ResPublica has compiled a list of ways that city councils around the UK can help. The report argues that: “The onus is on cities to create plans that can meet the health and economic challenge within a short time-frame, and identify what they need from national government to do so.”

This is a diplomatic way of saying that current government action on the subject does not go far enough – and that cities must help prod them into gear. That includes poking holes in the government’s proposed plans for new “Clean Air Zones”.

Here are just five of the ways the report suggests letting the light in and the pollution out:

1. Clean up the draft Clean Air Zones framework

Last October, the government set out its draft plans for new Clean Air Zones in the UK’s five most polluted cities, Birmingham, Derby, Leeds, Nottingham and Southampton (excluding London - where other plans are afoot). These zones will charge “polluting” vehicles to enter and can be implemented with varying levels of intensity, with three options that include cars and one that does not.

But the report argues that there is still too much potential for polluters to play dirty with the rules. Car-charging zones must be mandatory for all cities that breach the current EU standards, the report argues (not just the suggested five). Otherwise national operators who own fleets of vehicles could simply relocate outdated buses or taxis to places where they don’t have to pay.  

Different vehicles should fall under the same rules, the report added. Otherwise, taking your car rather than the bus could suddenly seem like the cost-saving option.

2. Vouchers to vouch-safe the project’s success

The government is exploring a scrappage scheme for diesel cars, to help get the worst and oldest polluting vehicles off the road. But as the report points out, blanket scrappage could simply put a whole load of new fossil-fuel cars on the road.

Instead, ResPublica suggests using the revenue from the Clean Air Zone charges, plus hiked vehicle registration fees, to create “Pollution Reduction Vouchers”.

Low-income households with older cars, that would be liable to charging, could then use the vouchers to help secure alternative transport, buy a new and compliant car, or retrofit their existing vehicle with new technology.

3. Extend Vehicle Excise Duty

Vehicle Excise Duty is currently only tiered by how much CO2 pollution a car creates for the first year. After that it becomes a flat rate for all cars under £40,000. The report suggests changing this so that the most polluting vehicles for CO2, NOx and PM2.5 continue to pay higher rates throughout their life span.

For ClientEarth CEO James Thornton, changes to vehicle excise duty are key to moving people onto cleaner modes of transport: “We need a network of clean air zones to keep the most polluting diesel vehicles from the most polluted parts of our towns and cities and incentives such as a targeted scrappage scheme and changes to vehicle excise duty to move people onto cleaner modes of transport.”

4. Repurposed car parks

You would think city bosses would want less cars in the centre of town. But while less cars is good news for oxygen-breathers, it is bad news for city budgets reliant on parking charges. But using car parks to tap into new revenue from property development and joint ventures could help cities reverse this thinking.

5. Prioritise public awareness

Charge zones can be understandably unpopular. In 2008, a referendum in Manchester defeated the idea of congestion charging. So a big effort is needed to raise public awareness of the health crisis our roads have caused. Metro mayors should outline pollution plans in their manifestos, the report suggests. And cities can take advantage of their existing assets. For example in London there are plans to use electronics in the Underground to update travellers on the air pollution levels.

***

Change is already in the air. Southampton has used money from the Local Sustainable Travel Fund to run a successful messaging campaign. And in 2011 Nottingham City Council became the first city to implement a Workplace Parking levy – a scheme which has raised £35.3m to help extend its tram system, upgrade the station and purchase electric buses.

But many more “air necessities” are needed before we can forget about pollution’s worry and its strife.  

 

India Bourke is an environment writer and editorial assistant at the New Statesman.