HC Deb 27 November 1997 vol 301 cc1081-2
9. Mr. Reed

What representations he has received on the consequences of British entry into the European single currency after 1999. [16593]

Mr. Gordon Brown

My statement of 27 October on economic and monetary union was widely welcomed in this country. Representations are still being received.

Mr. Reed

I thank my right hon. Friend. Will he comment on the contrast between the Government's policies in Europe, which have given us a leading voice with business in Europe, and the Conservative party's policies? The right hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine) has said that the Tories are leading the fight against British companies, and we have heard some examples of that today; does my right hon. Friend agree that their increasing isolationism in Europe is leading to increasing isolation in the opinion polls?

Mr. Brown

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. We have declared for the principle of monetary union: we have not yet had an answer from the Conservative party. We have said that there is no constitutional bar to entry: we have not yet had an answer from the Conservatives. We have said that the economic tests will be decisive, and if entry is in the national interest, that is what we shall do: we have not yet received Conservative party policy. It is small wonder that the former Deputy Prime Minister has said that the Conservative party has fallen out with Britain's leading companies.

Sir Peter Tapsell

Has it occurred to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that by 1999 the danger of inflation may be rather less than the danger of deflation? If that should come about, the economic criteria for the establishment of a single currency laid down in the Maastricht treaty will be not only irrelevant but exceedingly damaging for the people of this country.

Mr. Brown

That was exactly the proposition that was put forward in 1987, and it led the Conservative Government to cut interest rates, cut taxes and cause boom and bust conditions, as a result of which 1.5 million people lost their jobs and businesses were destroyed. We shall have stability in our economy, and we shall not return to the stop-go days of the Conservative party in government. Even now, they should apologise to the British electorate for what they did.