Be prepared for euro, Brown urges

GORDON BROWN, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, yesterday stressed the importance of being ready for the start of the single European currency on 1 January 1999 even though the Government has postponed British entry. "We must be ready to get the most from it for Britain," he told MPs, reaffirming the Government's policy of enthusiasm in principle but caution in practice.

The Chancellor's evidence before the Treasury Committee of the House of Commons generated unusual excitement when Quentin Davies, a Tory Euro- enthusiast, accused the Government of "running away from taking a decision" because of pressure from Rupert Murdoch and his stable of newspapers.

But Mr Brown denied the charge that his five economic tests for British membership were a pretence. "Other countries have been preparing for monetary union for almost six years now. We have not made those preparations," he said, explaining the decision to stay out of the first wave.

The Chancellor refused to answer repeated questions about whether the UK would be prepared to veto the membership of any other country which did not meet the strict letter of the Maastricht criteria for membership.

"Over a period of time there have been considerable advances," he said, asked about whether all those countries which wanted to join would meet the targets for the levels of budget deficits and debt set out in the treaty.

Britain, which holds the EU presidency, would look carefully at the reports from the European Commission and European Monetary Institute next month, Mr Brown said. He refused to be drawn on which countries he thought would qualify.

The Chancellor emphasised the practical preparations that would be needed before the UK could join and the need for sustainable economic convergence. He confirmed it would be possible for companies to have their shares quoted and to pay taxes in euros from next January.

Mr Brown said the UK and other European countries had an agenda of economic reform ahead of them. The single currency would satisfy his test on jobs - one of the five set out by the Treasury - if this programme of structural reform was under way by early in the next parliament.

Separately, Helen Liddell, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, launched a green paper on the future of official statistics. The paper set out four options for an independent national statistical service.

Ms Liddell said there were widespread doubts about the validity of many statistics, and the Government attached the greatest importance to improving their integrity. The option under which some departments would keep control of their statistics, subject to an independent commission or governing board, looks the most likely outcome.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree were established in 1986....

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Manager

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...

SThree: Talent Acquisition Consultant

£22500 - £27000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Since our inception in 1986, STh...

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Financial Advisers and Paraplanners

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This extremely successful and well-established...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map