The European Central Bank has revealed there were divisions on its policy-setting governing council over the use of quantitative easing to fight deflation.

In the minutes of the council's meeting on 22 January, published for the first time by the ECB, the central bank said that "a large majority" had voted in favour of a new bond purchase programme.

But "some members" had rejected it, saying such a tool should only be used as a "last resort".

At last month's meeting - the ECB's first of the year - president Mario Draghi had unveiled plans to embark on a policy of so-called quantitative easing (QE) to boost the worryingly low level of inflation in the 19 countries that share the euro.

The ECB's chief economist warned central bankers from around the euro zone of the perils of delaying money printing.             

Peter Praet addressed the risks of waiting before launching a scheme to print fresh money to buy government bonds, known as QE.             

In the document, which gives the clearest picture yet of how governors launched the scheme, officials reported Mr Praet as telling the meeting: "Due account would also need to be taken of the risks stemming from not acting at the present meeting, which might be higher than the risks stemming from acting.             

"A reversal of recent financial market developments could be expected if no further policy measures were announced," officials write in the record of the meeting.             

"The associated positive impact ... could be unwound and a higher degree of volatility or instability in the financial markets could create additional risks."             

In the end, most were in agreement. "There was a broadly shared view that the conditions were fully in place for taking additional monetary policy action at the current meeting," they added.              

This is the first time the ECB has published details of its discussions and brings it more in line with other major central banks like the US Federal Reserve, Bank of England and Bank of Japan.             

But the exercise is sensitive. As a result, none of the 19 national central bank governors who attend are identifiable.

While there was unanimity that such a programme was actually legal under the ECB's statutes, there was disagreement on whether it should be used just yet, the minutes revealed.

"Some members" had argued that "purchases of sovereign bonds should remain a contingency instrument of monetary policy, to be used only as a last resort in the event of an extremely adverse scenario, such as a downward deflationary spiral", the minutes said.

"However, thus far there was no evidence of a serious risk of deflation, which clearly argued against mobilising the instrument of sovereign bond purchases at the current meeting," the minutes added.

Under Mr Draghi's plans, the ECB will buy €60bn worth of public and private sector bonds per month from March through to September 2016.

But the head of the German central bank or Bundesbank, Jens Weidmann, has openly expressed his scepticism about such a programme. 

Mr Weidmann argues that QE takes the pressure off euro zone governments to get their finances and economies in order.

The minutes of the meeting, however, revealed that such concerns were taken into account by the governing council.

"It was noted that monetary policy action, particularly in the area of sovereign bond purchases, could not be seen in isolation from the actions of other policy areas," the minutes said.

"Possible moral hazard implications for euro area governments could weaken their incentives for structural reforms and fiscal consolidation.

"Hence, there was broad agreement that the effectiveness of sovereign bond purchases would also depend on the appropriate action on the part of other policy-makers in the euro area," the ECB said.