George hints at differences with Clarke

Eddie George, Governor of the Bank of England, last night hinted that he had disagreed with the Chancellor of the Exchequer's decision to cut interest rates for a second time last month. But the Governor played down the split, saying their differences were technical. Speaking on the eve of the publication of the Bank of England's quarterly Inflation Report, Mr George said short-term price pressures were "entirely benign" but might strengthen later in the year.

He would not give full details of his discussion with Mr Clarke in January, but said: "To the extent that we took different views, it would have been about a narrow, a very narrow point." His remarks appeared to confirm City speculation of a disagreement at the meeting, inferred from the Bank's silence afterwards. The Governor had publicly endorsed the December rate cut.