DEBATE: That the UK should adopt the euro in place of the Pound Sterling, on 8 May 1999

Proposer: Murdock MacTaggart, The European Movement & Britain in Europe

Seconder: A.J.V.Shepherd, Chairman, Alderley Holdings Ltd

Opposer: Bill Jamieson, Economics Editor, The Sunday Telegraph

Seconder: David C Ord, The Bristol Port Company.

 

Vote at conclusion:

 

Abstain: 6

For: 24

Against: 41

Left before vote: 6

The motion was lost.

 

A significant number of members spoke from the floor and numerous aspects of the subject were discussed. Mr Shepherd concentrated on the high cost for his export business of hedging forward against exchange rate fluctuations. He was disappointed that the floor did not follow up on this point.

 

Supporters of the motion generally followed the line of the opener. Adoption of the single currency is seen by them as a logical continuation of the support given by the UK to the different treaties; it is seen as an almost inevitable step.

Those in opposition did not regard it as inevitable; they saw the UK as having greater freedom of action in looking to the wider world.

Almost everyone agreed that adoption of the euro would be a major step towards a single state. Those `for' did not mind this. There was general agreement on both sides that the decision was a political, not an economic, one.

The debate was notable for the number of aspects which did not get mentioned at all, even though they may make the headlines in the papers: no one mentioned the recent resignation of the members of the Commission, and very few `mad officialdom'. On the technical side there was quite frequent mention of exchange rates, interest rates and regional variations. There was general agreement that important policy decisions should not be taken in response to short-term factors.

The growth of the use of the Internet and of `plastic money' was agreed to be important but their effects could not be forecast.

The small number of abstentions lent support to the view that, if the issues are explained and debated, individuals can reach a decision. But in the end it is about politicians seeking greater power.

Rodney Tye