Orders of the Day — Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:57 pm on 20th March 1989.

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Photo of Mr Julian Amery Mr Julian Amery , Brighton, Pavilion 5:57 pm, 20th March 1989

I would be happy to discuss with the right hon. Gentleman whether Churchill was right to make the pound look the dollar in the face. I am talking about 1931 when we were forced, rightly, to go off the gold standard and the Bank of England picked up the consequences which many people thought would lead to world collapse. That did not happen. The skill of the Bank of England made a currency, which was backed not by gold but by the reserves of the other members of the sterling area, a world currency which was accepted and, until the 1960s, remained a world currency. No other bank in Europe, and not even the Federal Reserve Bank, has the same experience. Do we still have the expertise to do that? Maybe some of the expertise has been hived off to the Treasury. My right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury will have that in mind.

Could any Government happily delegate control of monetary policy? I can see that it would be awkward to surrender such control—it would be awkward for my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary and for my right hon. Friends the Chancellor and the Prime Minister. I am asking questions, not making proposals. The return of inflation, which we thought we had got under control, suggests that the time has come to ask these questions. If I am right, the time has also come to ask the Government to consider them seriously.