Exchange Rate Mechanism

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:23 pm on 23rd October 1990.

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Photo of Mr Neil Kinnock Mr Neil Kinnock Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition, Leader of the Labour Party, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee 4:23 pm, 23rd October 1990

Of course, those accusations of political rather than economic motivations are serious and they could have serious consequences. They call into question the credibility of the Government's commitment to the ERM. In spite of that seriousness, the witness whose testimony is essential simply refuses to be called. At the Dispatch Box where, on this momentous issue, the Prime Minister should speak we have merely a question mark. The reason for the Prime Minister's unwillingness to speak is quite obvious. The right hon. Lady has been saying since 1985 that we will go into the ERM only "when the time is ripe" and she could hardly say in this debate, "Inflation is 10·9 per cent., we have a huge balance of payments deficit, the economic consequences of the Gulf crisis are unknown, output and investment are down, so the time is not ripe. In fact, it's pretty rotten—but we have entered the ERM in any case, regardless of everything that I have ever said before."