Following the Government statement about the future role of a potential digital pound, Harriett Baldwin asks if, given that major high street banks are passing on to savers so little interest since the Bank of England started to increase rates, people should be able to hold a digital account at the Bank of England and earn the Bank rate on their holdings.
The Treasury Committee has opened an inquiry into crypto, and this morning we had a session at which the chief executives of the major high street banks appeared before us. The real question we wanted to ask them was why they have been paying our constituents so little on their savings since the Bank of England started to increase rates. Is not the logical conclusion of the consultation process that my hon. Friend has opened today that each of us should be able to hold a digital currency account at the Bank of England, and to earn the Bank rate on our holdings and disintermediate the entire banking sector?
I thank my hon. Friend for her, as ever, wise points, as well as her wise chairmanship of the Treasury Committee. It is absolutely imperative that savers get the interest rates that they are entitled to. I commend my colleagues in National Savings and Investments, who have significantly increased the rates offered to savers. Of course, she also raises one potential opportunity, in that, although a digital pound would sit alongside our existing financial services infrastructure, it potentially offers consumers and citizens a different choice, which could involve the ability to hold currency through intermediaries other than the current banks.