MPC split again as two Bank of England policymakers vote to raise interest rates

 
Emma Haslett
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Two members of the MPC voted for a rate hike

Bank of England policymakers voted to hold interest rates at a record low of 0.5 per cent again in September, despite two members of the monetary policy committee arguing to raise rates for the second month in a row.

Minutes of the MPC's monthly meeting, published this morning, showed the hawkish Ian McCafferty and Martin Weale voted in favour of a 0.25 per cent rise in rates.

While CPI inflation was below the target, and was likely to fall further in the near term, this was largely the effect of the exchange rate rise in the first part of the year. Just as the committee had looked through that effect when it had pushed inflation up, it was appropriate to look through it at present.

Yesterday the Office for National Statistics published figures showing the consumer prices index fell to 1.5 per cent in the year to August, adding pressure on the MPC to raise interest rates. But low wages and slack in the labour market mean consumers are still feeling the strain.

However, official figures published this morning showed the UK unemployment rate fell to 6.2 per cent between May and July, suggesting that slack is increasingly being taken up.

Last month the MPC broke its historically lengthy unanimity for the first time since 2011, when McCafferty and Weale broke rank to vote in favour of an interest rate rise.

Economists have predicted a rate hike in the first quarter of 2015, although Carney himself has alternated between hawkish and dovish.

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