HC Deb 13 July 1995 vol 263 c1082
9. Mr. Tipping

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what consideration he has given to the name for a single European currency. [32555]

The Paymaster General (Mr. David Heathcoat-Amory)

There is no need for a decision now on the name of a possible future single currency.

Mr. Tipping

Does the Minister recall the Chancellor's recent comment that he was in favour of calling a new single European currency the crown or the shilling? Does that mean that he is now in favour of abolishing the pound? What discussions has he had with the right hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood) on that over the past month or so?

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory

My right hon. and learned Friend participates in the technical discussions, but the hon. Gentleman should not be too worried either way about the name, as the important point is that we are not committed to stage 3 of monetary union—unlike the Labour party, which is committed to monetary union and a single currency while at the same time being committed to inflationary policies. That combination would be a recipe for ruin.

Mr. Brooke

In the centenary year of Wilde's greatest play, does the Paymaster General recall the advice of Miss Prism: The chapter on the Fall of the Rupee you may omit. It is somewhat too sensational"? Does he agree that a couple of years of silence on the single European currency would do nobody any harm and might well do the exchange rate some good?

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory

Yes, particularly on the name of a single currency, where no decision is required and no decision is imminent.

Mrs. Anne Campbell

Will the Minister ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he still agrees with the principle of European monetary union? If so, does he still agree with his remarks reported in The Times in February that the Conservative party has run out of ways of making it clear that there are no divisions?

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory

The policy is absolutely clear and it has been repeated by my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor and by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister both to the House and outside: we are not committed to stage 3 of monetary union. We achieved an opt-out during the Maastricht negotiations. A future Parliament and a future House of Commons will make that choice in the circumstances of the day.