Parliament: Finance Bill - `Euro-stealth' Blair lambasted by Tories

Click to follow
THE TORIES stepped up their attack over the Government's campaign to prepare for the single currency, saying it amounted to entry by stealth. Francis Maude, shadow chancellor, accused Tony Blair of "picking the taxpayers' pocket" through the National Changeover Plan without publicly committing himself to a referendum.

During the Finance Bill's report stage he said: "On top of the public money ... he wants British businesses to gamble more than pounds 60bn to get ready for the euro. Yet he won't even come out and say he wants it to happen". The Government yesterday amended the Finance Bill to allow for spending for the National Changeover Plan.

Tory sources said clerks drafting the legislation were initially hesitant to include such clauses because it allowed for an unspecified amount of taxpayers' money to be spent on the preparations.

In the Commons Mr Maude said: "Tony Blair is trying to spend people's money rolling Britain into the single currency by stealth."