I sometimes get people writing to me about the Bank of England and the fact that its shareholders enjoy privileged secrecy.
What does that mean? And is it still legal given that the European Union now makes our laws and not our own Parliament? So I made the following speech asking the question.
I will be very interested to see what comes back. The President of the Parliament presiding this morning [Spanish MEP Alejo Vidal-Quadras (EPP)] was sufficiently interested to come up afterwards and speak to me about it.
"Last October this Parliament introduced six new Directives giving the EU powers to regulate the UK financial industry. On 7th February I submitted a Written Question to the Commission advising them of one aspect of the UK Companies Act 1976. Section 27 of the Act gives a significant exemption to just one company - the Bank of England Nominees Ltd. This exemption means that the identities of the shareholders of the Bank of England are kept secret.
"I have asked the Commission if this exemption contravenes EU law, and if the new regulatory bodies have the power to require the disclosure of the names of the Bank of England's shareholders? Of course, I, and my Party, don't want any EU law of any kind. But the Commission and the British Goverment do. Presumably then the Commission should ensure that its law is equally, consistently and transparently applied throughout its empire."