Value of the Pound

Oral Answers to Questions — Treasury – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17 January 2017.

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Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Labour, Slough 12:00, 17 January 2017

What assessment he has made of the effect of recent trends in the value of the pound on the economy; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Philip Hammond Philip Hammond The Chancellor of the Exchequer

The Government do not comment on currency movements and we do not target an exchange rate, but I will tell the House that the pound has spiked in the last few minutes while the Prime Minister has been speaking. The vote to leave the EU has obviously caused some uncertainty in the movements of financial markets. More generally, the fundamentals of our economy over the last couple of years have been strong.

Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Labour, Slough

But is it not the case that No. 10’s office briefed that the pound would fall as a result of the Prime Minister’s remarks today? Did it do that in a cynical attempt to get the soundbite that the Chancellor has just sought to achieve?

Photo of Philip Hammond Philip Hammond The Chancellor of the Exchequer

I draw a distinction between providing the House with information and commenting on that information—I would not dream of doing the latter. The other thing I would not dream of commenting on is any operations that No. 10 might undertake, which are well beyond my pay grade.

Photo of James Morris James Morris Conservative, Halesowen and Rowley Regis

The depreciation of the pound during the past few months has been of significant benefit to west midlands exporters, particularly those exporting outside the European Union. Does the Chancellor agree that whatever arrangements we come to for access to the single market after we leave the European Union, they must not constrain west midlands exporters from growing their trade outside the European Union?

Photo of Philip Hammond Philip Hammond The Chancellor of the Exchequer

On the contrary, the arrangements must support west midlands exporters in that endeavour. We still have a very large current account external deficit, and we need to bring our trade into better balance. One of our objectives in concluding the exit arrangements from the European Union will be to support that.