5. Mr. Ron Brown
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the value of the United Kingdom's gold reserves.
§ The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Ian Stewart)
As there seem to be some goodies in the kitty, despite the recession, would this be an opportune time to return Albania's gold to its rightful owners—the Albanian Government? Must we not face that issue?
§ Mr. Stewart
I should explain to the hon. Gentleman that the figure for which he asked and the answer which I gave related to the United Kingdom's gold reserves. His question on Albania relates to gold that is held on behalf of the Tripartite Commission for the Restitution of Monetary Gold, in which the United States, the United Kingdom and France are joint participants.
§ Mr. John Browne
Does my hon. Friend accept that the question of gold reserves has been brought into stark focus by the enormous increase in the number of financial instruments and the financial pyramiding involved, and by the vast increase in trading volume throughout the world? 842 The question arises as to the implications for the financial community of any failure of settlement. Is it not prudent for the Government to increase their gold reserves at such a time?
§ Mr. Stewart
Total reserves have been increasing. In fact, in the past few months there has been a rise on every occasion. We judge the present balance between gold and convertible currency to be about right in present circumstances.