HC Deb 13 November 2003 vol 413 cc403-4
6. Mr. George Osborne (Tatton)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many euro roadshow events he has attended in the past month. [138329]

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Ruth Kelly)

Ministers have held a variety of meetings to discuss the euro in the past month. In addition, Treasury officials have held more than 150 meetings with opinion formers in Britain and Europe since the Chancellor's statement on 9 June.

Mr. Osborne

I gather from the Financial Secretary's answer that the Chancellor attended no roadshow events in the past month, unless one includes the radio interviews that he did last week. That is slightly surprising because the deal that he stitched up with the Prime Minister was that he kept the pound and the Prime Minister launched a roadshow. Where is it? Why does not the Financial Secretary simply admit what we all know—that the roadshow does not exist?

Ruth Kelly

I was going to congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his appointment to the Front Bench. However, given his preoccupation with Ministers' diaries and who answers the question rather than the substance of the issue, perhaps he has already decided that he prefers to answer questions from the Back Benches.

Perhaps I can clarify a couple of points. Ministers continued to meet last month. Indeed, my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary addressed a meeting in Scotland and I filled in for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor, who was taking paternity leave, at a meeting in London. As the hon. Gentleman knows, Treasury officials have been deeply engaged in continuing discussions with stakeholders in the past month as in previous months.

Roger Casale (Wimbledon)

I invite the Financial Secretary to meet my constituents who have shown since at least May 1997 that it is possible to hold an open, balanced and rational debate about the euro and Britain's membership of the European Union. When she does that, will she remind them that a benefit of joining the euro would be the ability to lock in the economic stability that a Labour Government have created in this country and that entry would almost eliminate the risk of a return to the 15 per cent. interest rates that pertained when the Conservative party was in power?

Ruth Kelly

I know that my hon. Friend takes a great interest in those matters and of course I would be willing to meet his constituents. We have to put the national economic interest first—that is why we set up the five-test procedure. We shall review that at the appropriate time in the Budget.