HC Deb 12 February 1998 vol 306 cc376-7W
16. Mr. Gapes

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on preparations for economic and monetary union. [27217]

Mr. Gordon Brown

The Government consider it vital that British business is ready for the single currency when it arrives on 1 January 1999 and that the British people have a genuine choice whether or not to join EMU early next Parliament.

The Business Advisory Group on the euro which I established last July has reported. Its key message is that UK business must prepare for the strategic implications of the introduction of the euro on 1 January 1999.

The Bank of England is continuing its excellent work to ensure that the wholesale financial markets are ready for January 1999.

The Standing Committee I set up to oversee preparation has agreed a programme to ensure business has the information it needs to prepare. It will publish an outline plan around the end of the year on how the UK might change over to the euro if we join.

29. Mr. Plaskitt

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent representations he has received from business on the European single currency. [27230]

Mr. Gordon Brown

The Government receive a large number of representations from business on a wide range of issues, including Economic and Monetary Union. In July, I announced the establishment of a Business Advisory Group on EMU to allow dialogue between the Government and business on the practical and strategic implications of the single currency. A report summarising the conclusions from the group was published on 30 January and is available in the House Library.

30. Jacqui Smith

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he last met his EU counterparts to discuss the single currency. [27231]

Mr. Gordon Brown

I met my EU counterparts at ECOFIN on 19 January, when the items for discussion included the preparations for stage 3 of EMU.

Mr. Mitchell

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the answer of 3 February 1998,Official Report, column 572, which parts of the statutes of the Bank of England and the related Acts of Parliament would need to be (a) deleted, (b) amended and (c) inserted in preparation for, or consequent to, the United Kingdom joining the third stage of Economic and Monetary Union. [28896]

Mr. Darling

Amendments would have to be made to the provisions of the current Bank of England Bill in relation to aspects of the independence of the Bank of England and its integration in the European System of Central Banks. The statutory basis of the ways and means facility provided by the Bank of England pursuant to section 12 of the National Loans Act 1968 would have to be repealed. The Exchange Equalisation Account Act 1979 would have to be amended to enable effect to be given to the provisions of the Maastricht Treaty dealing with foreign reserves. Finally, the legislation dealing with notes and coin, in particular the provisions of the Currency and Bank Notes Acts 1928 and 1954, would have to be amended in order to reflect the substitution for sterling of euro notes and coin and their status as legal tender.

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