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Chancellor Of The Duchy Of Lancaster

Volume 958: debated on Monday 20 November 1978

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asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether, as economic adviser to the Cabinet, he intends to visit other EEC capitals in the weeks immediately ahead.

I have been asked to reply.

My right hon. Friend has no plans to do so at present, but he hopes that his colleagues will not find his advice any less acceptable on that account.

Fortified by his visit to Madrid, what advice is the Chancellor of the Duchy giving to the Government about joining the European monetary system? Does he think that it would be to Britain's benefit to join from day1 and then argue as a participant about the technical details?

The advice that my right hon. Friend is giving the Government is to the effect that as long as the European monetary system can be lasting and effective, and can promote stability and not be just a wider version of the snake, there are certain advantages. These are matters yet to be discussed, and I am sure that my right hon. Friend will play a prominent part in such discussions.

When the Chancellor of the Duchy discusses these matters, will he reflect on the fact that on the last occasion when we were invited to join a great European enterprise and failed to do so we ended up joining later and paying a much higher price? Will he recognise that as the European train leaves this particular station of monetary reform it must be wrong for the United Kingdom once again to be left behind, only to have to catch up later and pay very highly for the delay?

It is important that the European monetary system, if and when it starts, should be seen to be successful and lasting. A great deal of damage could be clone if we do not have the right conditions for entry or for starting it. Our attention must be directed towards those points.