6  The 2008 Attwood Award

The 2008 Attwood Award to MP Austin Mitchell, celebrating his advocacy of 'public credit', was made in the House of Commons Committee Room 10, 22nd April


Thomas Attwood (1783-1856) was a democrat, promoting parliamentary reform and opposing the growing mood of centralism at Westminster.

He believed that Birmingham could manage its affairs without the help of appointed commissioners from London or parliamentary committees.

Experience had led him to believe that the social classes had to act together if prosperity was to be the "natural" condition.

He promoted measures which would lead to full employment, peace and prosperity, having seen the effects of growing unemployment upon ‘an affectionate people’ in Birmingham, warning that: ‘Poverty has made them madmen; by coercion you may make them devils’.

He proposed various reforms to the monetary system, believing that these would promote ‘healthy activity in the different channels of commercial and agricultural interest’.

Before his election as the city’s first MP, employers, workers and the unemployed ‘paraded to voice their support for both the man and currency reform’ – and recorded their appreciation in the ‘Bromsgrove address’.

Three subjects close to his heart were:
– participative decentralised democracy
– the strengthening of local economies
– economic and monetary reform

Points made in Early Day Motions by Austin Mitchell, advocating the use of People’s Credit† for the People’s Purposes – 2002-2007:

Public money – People’s Credit - should now also be issued electronically.

EDM 1515 - 2002

EDM 323 - 2003

EDM 327 - 2004

EDM 743 - 2005

EDM 390 - 2005

EDM 408 - 2006

EDM 265 - 2007

Notes and italicised recommendations:

1. There has been a huge expansion of bank lending which has imposed a growing debt burden on society.

The People’s Credit can and should be used for the People’s Purposes not for private enrichment and bank profit

2. The proportion of publicly created money in circulation, has fallen from 20 % of the money supply in 1964 to 3% today.

The Government is urged to redress the balance back to the people by instructing the Bank of England to create credit to be used exclusively to finance necessary public investment in schools, hospitals, transport, police, social services and defence.

3. The conclusion of the report by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) confirms that private finance initiatives are a very expensive way of financing and delivering public services. For public and social infrastructure developments interest-bearing debt is unsatisfactory, burdensome and inadequate.

The heavy extra costs of financing public projects by the Public Finance Initiative or Public Private Partnerships would be massively reduced by the development and use of public credit rather than accumulating even more debt or enriching the private finance initiative and public private partnership contractors who are making vast profits from the Government's desire to provide alternatives to borrowing.

4. The cost of dealing with the recent floods is only a foretaste of the much larger sums that will be necessary to cope with climate change and to deal with extreme weather conditions

Instead of raising the money by taxing or borrowing, the Government should now increase the proportion of publicly-created money in the economy by issuing interest-free green credit to finance the measures which will have to be taken.

5. Further huge additional expenditure will now be necessary to combat global warming, reduce carbon emissions and make public buildings, housing and transport carbon neutral.

As there is no prospect of raising such huge but necessary sums through normal channels of taxation and borrowing the time has come to supplement these by using the power of public credit to increase the amount of publicly-funded money needed to finance the development of carbon neutrality in a good society, funding activities to combat climate change as described in the Forum for Stable Currencies' response to the UNDP's call for new approaches towards adaptation to climate change.

General recommendations

The benefits of seigniorage are overwhelmingly taken by the banks not the public exchequer. The decline in publicly created money should be reversed, substantially cutting the cost of public investment by eliminating the need to borrow and pay interest.

The Treasury should commission an independent review of the benefits of using the public credit and increasing the proportion of publicly created money, which would enable more public sector investment and stimulate employment.

The Government should grant the Bank of England, within that institution’s inflation targets, the power to generate sufficient interest-free credit, and to allocate it to a national credit agency for disbursal for such local and national public and social infrastructure development projects planned by Parliament.

MPs from six parties signed one or more of the EDMs

* denotes those who are no longer MPs

Adam Price, Elfyn Llwyd, Hywel Williams, *Simon Thomas, Plaid Cymru

Adrian Sanders, Bob Russell, John Barrett (Scottish MP), John Pugh, Mike Hancock, Nick Harvey, Nigel Jones, *Paul Tyler, Paul Holmes, Roger Williams, Liberal Democrat

Alan Meale, Ann Cryer, Alan Simpson, Austin Mitchell, Bill Etherington, Brian Jenkins, David Chaytor, David Crausby, David Drew, David Taylor, Derek Wyatt, Harold Best, Harry Barnes, Harry Cohen, Ian Gibson, Janet Dean, Jeremy Corbyn, Jim Dobbin, John Austin, John McDonnell, Jon Trickett, Katy Clark, Kelvin Hopkins, Kevin McNamara, Linda Riordan, Llew Smith, Lynne Jones, Madeleine Moon, Marsha Singh, Martin Caton, Michael Clapham, Neil Gerrard, *Paul Flynn, Roger Godsiff, Ronnie Campbell, Dr Rudi Vis, Vera Baird, *Iain Coleman, *Brian White, *Terry Lewis, *Tony Clarke, Labour

Nicholas Winterton, Peter Bottomley, Conservative

Gregory Campbell, Democratic Unionist Party

Martin Smyth, Ulster Unionist

Dr Richard Taylor, Dai Davies, Independent

†Until recently known as M0: notes and coins.

 - by email from B. A. Panvel [[email protected]]