This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request 'Returning the gold supply back to the public.'.


 
 
 
 
 
 
Mr Barry Koston 
 
Information Access Team 
Via email to: 
Communications Directorate 
request-559828-
020 3461 4878 
xxxxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx.xxx 
020 3461 5460 
 
xxxxxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxxxxx.xx.xx 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
4 April 2019  
 
 
 
 
 
Please quote ref. CAS-06142-M5Y9M9 on all 
 
correspondence 
 
Dear Mr Koston 
 
Thank you for your email of 11 March in which you ask the following under the Freedom of Information Act 
2000 (‘FoI Act’): 
 
‘Q,1. After the link with gold was broken in 1931. What happened to the gold reserves that the 
public had with the bank of england? After all, the public had their receipts for the gold deposits.   
 
Q,2. After 1931, If the bank didn't return the gold supply to the public,  then what did the bank 
provide (remedy) back to the public, equal or more in value?’ 

 
May I first explain that the FoI Act provides a general right of access to recorded information held by a 
public authority.  It does not require a public authority to answer general questions on a subject as is the 
case in this instance.  However, in order to be helpful I have provided the following information which 
includes information previously provided in answer to a different request which you referenced in your 
incoming email. 
 
When Britain finally left the gold standard in 1931, the note issue became entirely fiduciary, that is wholly 
backed by securities instead of gold.  Since that time there has been no other asset into which holders 
have the right to convert Bank of England notes.  They can only be exchanged for other Bank of England 
notes, and our banknotes keep their face value for all time.  Nowadays public faith in the pound is 
maintained in a different way – through the Bank of England’s monetary policy, the object of which, by 
statute, is price stability. 
 
Following the end of the Gold Standard in 1931 the gold and foreign exchange reserves were transferred 
to HM Treasury, these reserves are still managed by the Bank on behalf of the Government, and are held 
in an account called the Exchange Equalisation Account (‘EEA’).  Further information about the reserves 
can be found on our website at: 
 
https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/markets/foreign-currency-reserves  
 
You may also find the following article published in our Quarterly Bulletin in 1968 (pages 377-390) of 
interest.  It explains the origins of the EEA and includes a history of how different events impacted on the 
country’s reserves.  You will also see on pages 382/383 of the article that with the outbreak of war, ‘All 
gold and exchange held by residents had to be offered for sale to the Treasury as part of the 
concentration of the country’s external resources
…’.  The article can be viewed at: 
 
https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/-/media/boe/files/quarterly-bulletin/1968/the-exchange-equalisation-
account-its-origins-and-
development.pdf?la=en&hash=B07547ED8E0BBFE717CFD376DFB214EB4081B64C 
 
 
 
 
 
Bank of England, Threadneedle Street, London EC2R 8AH T +44 (0) 20 3461 4444 www.bankofengland.co.uk 
 


 

 
Yours sincerely 
 
 
 
 
Jackie Walmsley 
Information Access Team 
 
 
 
Your right to complain under the FoI Act 
If you are unhappy with the Bank’s response, you may ask for that decision to be reviewed internally. Please note that this will be 
subject to the Bank having received your submission within two months of the date of this response.  In order to submit an internal 
review, please set out the grounds for your appeal and send it to Wendy Galvin, Information Access Team (TS-Mz), Communications 
Directorate, Bank of England, Threadneedle Street, London, EC2R 8AH or by email to xxxxxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxxxxx.xx.xx for the 
attention of Wendy Galvin. 
 
If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for 
a decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, 
Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.  
 
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