To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the current interest rate differentials between the United Kingdom, France and Germany and likely movements in such differentials between the present and 1 January 1999. 
The UK official interest rate is currently 7¼ per cent. compared with the key official rate of 3.3 per cent. in France and Germany. This interest rate differential partly reflects differences in the countries' current cyclical positions. Financial market prices imply that the differentials are expected to narrow between now and 1 January 1999. Further information may be found in "UK Membership of the Single Currency: An Assessment of the Five Economic Tests", HM Treasury, October 1997, (available in the House of Commons Library).