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Orders of the Day — European Communities Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th July 1972.

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Photo of Mr Harold Lever Mr Harold Lever , Manchester Cheetham 12:00 am, 13th July 1972

My hon. Friend is confused. When we talk of fixed parities, normally we mean fixed moveable parities. I prefer to talk about the adjustable peg which on the one hand is not floating and on the other is adjustable. That is the system in which I believe and which I advocate. President Pompidou demands that we shall go back to the adjustable peg, as we are obliged to under the existing IMF rules.

It is all very well talking about co-operation on economic and monetary matters. So far the world has considered overwhelmingly by a majority of informed opinion—and has thought so since 1945, if not a little before—that in order not to have the kind of rat-race disasters that we experienced before the war, we needed to agree our parities for periods of time, to be ready to adjust them but not to manipulate them from day to day in the floating rate situation.

It is clear that the world will not co-operate except on the basis that we have stable parities and operate the adjustable peg system. We cannot talk of cooperation on monetary and economic matters and repudiate the only terms on which everyone else is prepared to co-operate. It is no good our saying that we are right and that everyone else is out of step. I think that the world is right. It is impossible to organise world co-operation except on the basis of some stability of parities embodied in Bretton Woods and the adjustable peg.

It will be even more impossible to have the high degree of intimate economic and monetary co-operation that we hope to get in Europe unless we have that peg. It is required for our world obligations and for world co-operation. But, a fortiori, it is also required for the higher degree of intimate co-operation economically and monetarily that we seek in Europe. It is no good talking about strengthening collective action to solve the world's problems unless we are prepared to strengthen the implementation of those agreements, when they are reached.

I wish that the world had incorporated into its laws the agreements reached at the GATT which prevent unfair trading practices and discriminations of all kinds. At the moment each country is the judge in its own eyes.