By Martin Kelly
The head of the Bank of England has confirmed his office is currently working with officials from the Scottish Government in order to arrange a meeting with Scottish ministers.
Appearing in front of the Westminster Treasury Select Committee, Mark Carney was asked if there were any plans to speak to the Scottish Government when he visits Scotland on January 29th.
The Bank of England Chief confirmed officials from both sides were “working to arrange a meeting”.
Mr Carney said he looked forward to the opportunity and added: “That effort has been ongoing and there is certainly the will on both sides to have a constructive discussion.”
Respected in the world of international finance, Carney, who is a Canadian, is the former Governor of the Bank of Canada. He became Governor of the Bank of England on July 1st last year.
Confirmation that pre-referendum talks will take place between Mr Carney and the Scottish Government follows an announcement this week by the UK Treasury that it will take full responsibility for the total UK debt in the event of Scottish independence.
The news, which means the rest of the UK is legally responsible for all of the £1.4 trillion of debt racked up by successive Westminster Governments, placed the issue of currency at the top of the independence debate.
The Scottish Government has argued that a currency union between the rest of the UK and a newly independent Scotland is the most practical solution to the issues surrounding the debt legacy. First Minister Alex Salmond has pledged Scotland will repay its share of the debt, but has insisted that a share of assets must also be included in any agreement.
The Bank of England also owns around one third of the UK’s national debt. This debt, will argue the Scottish Government, is an asset to which Scotland is entitled a proportionate share.
Such a situation would leave an independent Scotland being owed billions of pounds by the remainder of the UK and could, in the absence of a currency union, prove problematic for a future Westminster Government.