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Eurozone (Contingency Plans)

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Communities and Local Government – in the House of Commons at 3:32 pm on 20th June 2011.

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Photo of Chris Leslie Chris Leslie Shadow Minister (Treasury) 3:32 pm, 20th June 2011

Clearly, it is vital and in all our interests that sustainable resolutions are agreed for Greek debt financing, but surely the Government must recognise that there needs to be a smarter approach than simply piling more and more austerity on Greece. What is the Financial Secretary’s response to those, including Boris Johnson, who said yesterday that

“austerity measures are making the economy worse” in Greece?

Why does the Financial Secretary allow the EU to procrastinate continually and to kick a solution on the bail-out mechanism into the distance repeatedly? He says that the EFSM has not yet been used. The European Council meets at the end of this week. Will the Government ensure that they grasp the nettle this time, and make sure that a permanent eurozone-only bail-out mechanism comes into force as soon as possible rather than pushing it back again? Will he give assurances that the UK will attend any future meetings, which could involve the use of EFSM, even if they are eurozone Finance Minister meetings, because the UK’s empty-chair policy clearly is not working?

Given that the Financial Secretary tabled a little-noticed Commons motion last week to double the UK’s subscription to the IMF from £10.5 billion to £19.7 billion, was not the Foreign Secretary being disingenuous when he said on “Sky News” earlier that

“any such support for Greece is for the eurozone and for the IMF, not for the UK”?

Britain will end up paying more for the Greek bail-out via the IMF, so will the Financial Secretary come clean and say what he estimates our share of IMF bail-out costs will be for our taxpayers? Surely Ministers should pull their fingers out and ensure that the EU makes some final decisions on all that. Is not it about time that the Government showed some leadership?