Letter: Business and EMU

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Sir: I would like to question the assumption that "business" is unequivocally in favour of Emu ("Heseltine calls on Tories to fight Hague's Euro-phobia", 31 October).

When the Institute of Directors conducted a vote after a debate on Emu at our 1996 Annual Convention, nearly 30 per cent of attendees were in favour of Emu; nearly 70 per cent were against, with a small margin of don't knows. These figures were broadly replicated by a subsequent opinion survey of our members. And earlier this month, I was speaking at a conference of small businessmen and a "hands-up" poll indicated a majority against the single currency, a sizeable minority of don't knows and a handful in favour. There was also a distinct feeling that the large companies were bullying the small.

It is clear that there are some advantages of Emu membership for some sectors of British business. This is especially true for large multinationals which operate on an EU-wide basis and companies which export heavily to the rest of the EU and have been hit recently by the very strong pound against the Deutschmark. But for the very large majority of companies which are not in these very vocal categories, the advantages of Emu membership are altogether more elusive. Many of them remember all too clearly the disastrous experience of ERM membership when the UK was unable to trim its interest rates to domestic needs. And they clearly say no to Emu for the foreseeable future.

RUTH LEA

Head of the Policy Unit

Institute of Directors

London SW1

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