Clause 1 — United Kingdom loans to Ireland

Part of Loans to Ireland Bill (Allocation of Time) – in the House of Commons at 4:45 pm on 15th December 2010.

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Photo of Kelvin Hopkins Kelvin Hopkins Labour, Luton North 4:45 pm, 15th December 2010

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his intervention. The amendments from the hon. Member for Stone will hopefully clarify the position and change the Bill to the way we would like it to be, so that it will not have implications for other members of the eurozone.

As I have said, however, if the Irish are to recover from their situation, they must remove themselves from the eurozone, re-create the punt, depreciate their currency and bring it into line with sterling, because we are their natural trading partners. Their economy and ours are the most closely integrated, and that is the sensible thing to do. I have said that before in this Chamber, and I have said it in private to senior Irish politicians on two occasions-I must say that it was not received in a very friendly way. Nevertheless, that is the logic, and even now we are looking towards a progressive deconstruction of the eurozone, partial or complete, in the not-too-distant future.

It would be better to deconstruct the eurozone in a rational and controlled way, rather than in a disastrous crash. So I hope that the eurozone members will be sensible and start to deconstruct it as practically and sensibly as they can and not allow it just to go into a massive crisis, which will benefit nobody. Even deconstructing it through country-by-country removals will cause problems, because many other countries have money in Irish and Greek banks, so it will be devalued and people will lose. Nevertheless, it is better to do that than to allow the situation to continue and the elastic eventually to break, causing the whole thing to come crashing down.

I strongly support the amendments tabled by the hon. Member for Stone, which I hope are accepted by the House. I hope that we make it clear that this is a loan from Britain to Ireland as a gesture of friendship to a fellow country in danger and that it is not to do with European Union arrangements. It is a friendship loan between two very close countries. Ireland is the country closest to us; it is a country with which we have deep historical links. I hope that all hon. Members will support the amendments if they are pressed to a Division-I certainly look forward to voting.