§ 1. Mr. Coleman
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the proceedings of the most recent meeting of ECOFIN.
§ The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Richard Ryder)
My right hon. Friend the Chancellor and I represented the United Kingdom at the Council of Economic and Finance Ministers on 12 March. The main topics discussed included the implications of German economic and monetary union, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the revision of the financial perspective, the problem of fraud against the Community budget and the report of the European Court of Auditors for 1988.
§ Mr. Coleman
I am grateful to the Minister. Can he tell us how he intends to persuade our European partners to locate the new European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London particularly with such a grudging attitude about Europe on the part of the United Kingdom—for example, our reluctance over the social charter and the exchange rate mechanism? Can he tell us what powers of persuasion he has?
§ Mr. Ryder
Our case is irresistible. It is so irresistible that we have produced the excellent brochure that I have with me. I shall be more than happy to send the hon. Gentleman a copy. Over lunch last Monday my right hon. Friend the Chancellor was able to raise the matter as part of the lunchtime agenda. The case for bringing the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to London is clear. More than 520 foreign banks are already located in London. It is Europe's financial centre, and the centre of the Eurobond market, and we do more banking work with eastern Europe than any other banking capital in Europe. I hope that I have the hon. Gentleman's support and the support of the entire House in trying to get the EBRD to London.
§ Mr. Soames
In my hon. Friend's distinguished contribution at the ECOFIN meeting, did he have the opportunity to tell his colleagues on that body of the substantial support in industry in this country for full British membership of the European monetary system?