HC Deb 14 December 2000 vol 359 cc801-2
10. Mr. Desmond Swayne (New Forest, West)

What assessment he has made of the extent to which United Kingdom interest rates have converged with those in the eurozone. [141842]

12. Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)

What estimate he has made of when the UK will join the single currency. [141846]

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Gordon Brown)

The Government have set out five economic tests, which will have to be met before any decision to join the single currency can be taken. The Government will make another assessment of the five tests early in the next Parliament.

Mr. Swayne

Will the Chancellor now address Question 10?

Mr. Brown

The answer is that we will make an assessment early in the next Parliament. That is exactly what we will do.

Mr. Winterton

The Chancellor has emphasised the importance of business costs, so will he tell British business that the cost of entry to the euro is likely to be some £33 billion? How does he equate that with his desire to keep business costs down and this country's ability to take decisions to contain inflation?

Mr. Brown

Precisely because we have to look at all issues in relation to this matter, we have our five economic tests. The problem with the Conservative party is that there are some—

Mr. Winterton

Answer the question.

Mr. Brown

Precisely because of issues that are raised by the hon. Gentleman and others, it makes good economic sense to assess those matters in an appropriate way. That is why we have set five economic tests: the effects on investment, on financial services, on employment and on the flexibility of the economy and whether there is sustainable convergence. All the issues that he raises can be dealt with as we examine those five assessments.

The hon. Gentleman's problem is that, if he thinks that the matter should be dealt with by a prudent examination of the five tests, he will support leaving the issue open and not ruling it out on principle. However, at one and the same time, some Conservative Members say that we must look at the issue as a matter of detail and others say that they will never join, on principle.

I understand that the hon. Gentleman is a member of Conservatives Against a Federal Europe. "John Major"—[HON. MEMBERS: "The right hon. Member for Huntingdon."] Conservative Members do not like hearing their own policy. I think that the House would like to know what they subscribe to. "John Major", it says—[Interruption.] This is very interesting—

Mr. Speaker

Order. Perhaps this is a matter for the next Question Time.

Mr. Brown


Mr. Speaker

Order. It is now time to move on to business questions.

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