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There is a new deputy sheriff in town

The Financial Policy Committee is charged with monitoring the whole financial system including housing. Photo: David Cheskin/PA Wire

If you want to know what's happening to the interest charges on mortgages, you need to take a closer look at the Bank of England.

Over the past couple of days various senior policymakers at the Bank have been at pains to explain "forward guidance" - essentially, the Monetary Policy Committee's (MPC) promise not to consider raising interest rates until unemployment has dropped from 7.7% currently to 7.0%.

The Bank's economists reckon that won't happen for another three years. There are some "knock out" clauses which means the MPC could reconsider (as I have blogged before), but it means that for the next few years the main focus of attention at the Bank could move to a new, powerful watchdog: the Financial Policy Committee (FPC).

It is charged with monitoring and ensuring stability across the whole financial system - something a former Monetary Policy Committee member admitted to me "fell through the gaps" under the previous supervisory structure.

One area of concern to many people - and one which they think the FPC should be ready to step in to control - is the housing market.

It's patchy but in some areas, buyers are piling in and pushing up prices. London is especially hot with prices up almost 10% in the twelve months to July. Is this a bubble in the making? Is Government policy in the form of Help to Buy making the situation worse?

Mortgage approvals are up 30% on a year ago, the Financial Policy Committee notes. Credit: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

Today the FPC notes the recovery - mortgage approvals are up 30% on a year ago, it says, but it's not ringing the alarm bells yet.

It says activity in general is still below historical averages, banks are still cautious in the amounts they lend, the cost of servicing debts is low (interest rates are, of course, at rock bottom) and the cost of housing compared to earnings is where it was a decade ago.

Nevertheless, the committee is stirred enough to wave its armoury to tackle any problems in the air.

It will be "vigilant" and can demand commercial banks take greater care when lending, that the banks lend lower proportions of a property's value or it can make it more expensive for banks themselves to borrow, effectively turning off the taps.

All these things have been tried before in other countries, like Canada. The country's finance minister, Jim Flaherty, told me it was a necessary step to stop a bubble in the property market in Toronto and Vancouver.

It made him unpopular with his own kids who now found it harder to get a mortgage, he said, "but that's only right. They shouldn't buy until they've saved up."

We may yet see a similar approach in Britain.