HC Deb 18 June 1998 vol 314 cc504-6
14. Mr. Ian Stewart (Eccles)

What further steps she intends to take to give support to businesses preparing for EMU. [45065]

The Minister for Competition and Consumer Affairs (Mr. Nigel Griffiths)

I am pleased to announce that, among the further steps taken, my noble Friend the Minister for Trade and Competitiveness in Europe this week published some explanatory fact sheets to support businesses in preparing for the euro; 15,000 of them have been distributed to organisations representing businesses, and to individual firms—especially small and medium enterprises.

Mr. Stewart

The Government's pragmatic approach to European monetary union is the correct one: we should join only if and when that is in Britain's interests. Will the Minister comment on the statement by Commissioner Leon Brittan last month, that the attitude and approach of the Leader of the Opposition to European monetary union is fundamentally flawed—a shrill and emotional reaction to it? Will he also join me in asking the right hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood) whether he agrees with the Leader of the Opposition or with Sir Leon Brittan about speaking up for British interests in Europe?

Mr. Griffiths

Yes, and I shall also give the right hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redmond), the shadow Secretary of State, the opportunity to agree with John Entwistle, the president of the British Chambers of Commerce, who said yesterday, We are for the euro.

Mr. Christopher Gill (Ludlow)

Is the Minister aware of the advice that has been given to the President of the United States that it is absolute folly for the countries of the European Community to form a single currency within 12 months of trying to deal with the problems associated with the millennium bug? Will he take notice of those people in this country who are advising that, if one of those two problems could be postponed, it would be sensible to do so?

Mr. Griffiths

It is very brave of the hon. Gentleman to raise the subject of the millennium bug when the record of his party in the previous Government shows that it did nothing about it. By contrast, this Government took the necessary action and appointed Don Cruickshank to head the committee that is ensuring that business is properly prepared for the millennium. We welcome any support that can be given, however belatedly, by Conservative Members.

Mr. John Redwood (Wokingham)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker.

Madam Speaker

Order. I take points of order after statements, and we have three statements today.