Bank of England Responds to My FOIA Request

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Rusere Shoniwa reports on the Bank of England’s underwhelming responses to his freedom of Information requests on outcomes of the 2023 CBDC consultation. Originally published on A Plague on Both Houses.

At the end of May last year, I wrote a two-part piece about the Bank of England’s sham CBDC consultation. In that piece, I highlighted the BoE’s authoritarian approach to its ‘consultation’, in which all the questions presupposed that its CBDC project should be implemented, and therefore sought feedback only on how this should happen. The public was not asked whether it wanted or needed a CBDC, and the BoE provided no option to reject the proposal in its entirety, which is of course highly undemocratic. Rather than asking whether you’d like to be punched or not, the parameters of debate have now been limited to establishing whether you want a black eye or a bloody nose. That is the meaning of ‘democracy’ today in the West.

In part 2 of that piece, I therefore linked to a suggested consultation response which rejected the CBDC project completely and told the BoE to focus on its job – preparing for the threat of another banking crisis. Hoping to inundate the BoE with a wave of public rejection of CBDCs, I enlisted the help of TCW, who were happy to publish the piece and my suggested template response to the consultation. (The link to the template response is now broken as I’ve abandoned my old website but it was available up to the date of the consultation deadline of 30th June 2023, and I got feedback from many readers who said they had used it. You can see the template I reposted on Substack here.) It was well received in TCW and, as time passed, I became curious as to whether the BoE would ever get around to publishing the results of its consultation and whether our efforts to send a clear message of rejection would register in its subsequent analysis of consultation responses.

So I wrote to the BoE in late December and asked two simple questions:

1.       What was the total number of responses received from members of the general public or private individuals?

2.       Of the total number of responses received from the general public, how many respondents indicated that they were not supportive of the Bank’s project to introduce a Digital Pound or Central Bank Digital Currency or expressed doubts about the need for a Digital Pound or Central Bank Digital Currency?

In response to the first question, the BoE said that they would be “shortly” publishing this information on their website so they didn’t have to tell me this right now.

In response to the second question, they said that compiling the information would “exceed the cost limit of £450” and so they weren’t going to do it. They unhelpfully reminded me that the question I had asked was not a question they themselves had posed in the consultation, and it would therefore be “extremely time consuming” to analyse the responses along the lines I had requested. In other words, they didn’t ask whether the public wanted a CBDC because they didn’t want to know the answer to that problematic question, and nor did they intend to be embarrassed by any smart-arses who thought they could hijack their disingenuous ‘consultation’ by telling them to shove their CBDC completely.

The question I asked is not trivial. It goes to the heart of all the criticism that has been levelled by perfectly rational and concerned citizens. What problem does a CBDC solve? The answer is none. Listen to the idiotic answer to that question given by a Treasury automaton. When asked by MP Danny Kruger, “What is a CBDC for? What problem is it going to solve?”, the stuttering humanoid replied:

“It’s to keep track with the reality of how we all, um, we all, um, purchase and save and do our work with our goods…this is about being a modern economy that recognises how our citizens, you know, want to do business”.

It’s incoherent babble and they categorically have not asked citizens how we want “to do business”. Their consultation started with the premise that a CBDC is the way the BoE wants “to do business”, and they disingenuously invited the public to engage in a farcical democracy window-dressing exercise in which they pretend to care about your thoughts on how they plan “to do business”. Thoughts which, à la 1984, have been prescribed by a pre-defined ‘consultation’.

The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee concluded that CBDCs were a “solution in search of a problem”. Big Brother Watch, while utterly feeble in their recommendations for pushing back against CBDCs, issued a scathing 82-page report echoing the sentiments of the Economic Affairs Committee, and gave chapter and verse on the frightening costs to privacy and liberty of the BoE’s proposed “Spycoin”.

If a CBDC solves no problems and only creates new threats, why is the BoE spending huge amounts of taxpayer funds on it while refusing to answer reasonable questions from the public on the grounds that getting the BoE jobsworths to serve the public will cost more than £450?

What’s more, the £450 cost limit is a nonsense. As with all non-productive bureaucracies, I would assume that the cost to the BoE of dealing with this matter is covered by a fixed overhead. No extra funds are forked out in doing the analysis I requested. It might involve a reallocation of someone’s time from a completely worthless task, like promoting CBDCs, to something worthwhile, like answering valid questions, the answer to which might prove that our money is being spent on things the public neither wants nor needs.

So I am toying with the idea of keeping the little Hitlers at BoE busy on things other than actually building CBDCs by taking them up on their kind offer to lodge a complaint about their pathetic response. It seems to me that they’re perfectly happy to “exceed the cost limit of £450” on either writing stonewalling letters or dealing with complaints about their stonewalling, rather than simply doing their public duty by responding properly to valid, albeit embarrassing, questions from taxpayers.


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