Pitman isolated on rate rise

BUSINESS leaders this weekend gave the overwhelming thumbs down to Sir Brian Pitman, the Lloyds Bank chief executive who last week signalled strongly that the Government should lift interest rates.

A straw poll of industrialists and financiers puts Sir Brian, who forcefully argued that the Government was not doing enough to curb inflation, in a minority of one.

Sir Paul Nicholson, chairman of the Sunderland brewing group Vaux, said: "I do not think it would be right to put up interest rates. It would be a shattering blow to confidence in a very weak market." There had already been a slowdown in the Northern economy over the last two to three months, he argued. "Life is getting tougher again."

Chris Haskins, chairman of Northern Foods, strongly resisted Sir Brian's reasoning: "Some people are taking the threat of inflation too seriously. I would hold on, I wouldn't put them up. If anything, I'd bring them down." He said demand was already so weak that Northern was unable to pass on raw material price increases. David Prosser, group chief executive of the insurance group Legal & General, comented: "I do not have much sympathy with Sir Brian's view. We still need to go on rebuilding consumer confidence." He said there needed to be a recovery, though not a boom, in the housing market.

Robert Brace, finance director of British Telecom, echoed the feelings of many who are already experiencing a marked slowdown. "We've seen a dampening in growth of consumer demand since Christmas. Any increase in short-term interest rates would be likely to worsen that."

John Roberts, chief executive at regional electricity company Manweb, urged against a hike, saying that worldwide rates look to be softening. "I wouldn't like to see us going against that trend."

The chorus against a rise in rates follows Sir Brian's attack on anti- inflation policy on Friday. He was acutely concerned that inflation had risen above 3 per cent and was continuing to rise. "I certainly haven't seen quite as much action as I would have liked to keep it down," he said.

The markets, at least, support Sir Brian. The short sterling futures contract reflects the view that there will be a quarter-point rise in rates by the year end.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Neil Pavier: Management Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you looking for your next opportunity for ...

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ACA/ACCA/ACMA qua...

Laura Norton: Project Accountant

£50,000 - £60,000: Laura Norton: Are you looking for an opportunity within a w...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?