The Bank of England was nationalised in 1946, so we are now wholly owned by the UK Government. Before this, the Bank of England was a private bank owned by various shareholders. We gained independence from the Government to set monetary policy in 1997.
We have specific statutory responsibilities for setting policy – for interest rates, for financial stability, and for the regulation of banks and insurance companies. We have independence from the Government in terms of how we carry out these responsibilities. We do this within a framework set by Government but free from day-to-day political influence.
The Bank is overseen by a board of directors, known as the Court of Directors, who are appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of the Prime Minister and the Chancellor. The Court of Directors is responsible for setting and monitoring the Bank's strategy and making key decisions on spending and appointments. The Government chooses one of the non-executive, or external, members to chair the Court of Directors.
Our policymaking committees: the Monetary Policy Committee, the Financial Policy Committee and the Prudential Regulation Committee make decisions about our responsibilities, for example on the interest rate.
Our Internal Audit Division helps the Court of Directors and executive management to protect our assets, reputation and sustainability by independently and objectively evaluating the effectiveness of internal controls, risk management and governance processes.
Appearances before Parliament
Although we are independent, we have to explain how and why we arrive at our decisions. We demonstrate our accountability to Parliament through the House of Commons Treasury Committee. Our Governors, Executive Directors and external Monetary Policy Committee and Financial Policy Committee members regularly appear before the committee after the Inflation Report, Financial Stability Report and Prudential Regulation Authority Annual Report are published.
New members of the Monetary Policy Committee and Financial Policy Committee also have hearings at the Treasury Committee before they are appointed. Other committees also occasionally hold evidence sessions with representatives of the Bank. Transcripts, reports and video footage of all appearances are available from the UK Parliament website.