European Single Currency (Preparation)

First Minister's Question Time – in the Scottish Parliament at 3:09 pm on 12th June 2003.

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Photo of Irene Oldfather Irene Oldfather Labour 3:09 pm, 12th June 2003

To ask the First Minister what action has been taken to assist the preparedness of public and private sector organisations in Scotland for adoption of the European single currency. (S2F-79)

Photo of Rt Hon Jack McConnell Rt Hon Jack McConnell Labour

Where there are practical benefits, we already encourage public bodies to use and accept euros—I believe that some taxi drivers in Edinburgh currently accept euros, and that is certainly to be welcomed. More generally, as part of preparations for the possible UK adoption of the euro, we have a Scottish changeover plan, which feeds into the UK plan. Both the Deputy First Minister and I plan to participate in the Scottish preparation committee that was announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on Monday.

Photo of Irene Oldfather Irene Oldfather Labour

Will the First Minister join me in commending the work that has been undertaken by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities to raise awareness of forward planning? Is the First Minister aware that it is difficult for business and the public sector to make contingency plans for the euro without a definite Government commitment? Will the First Minister work with those local authorities and businesses that are keen to prepare to ensure that they are not financially disadvantaged in advance of the chancellor's decision next year?

Photo of Rt Hon Jack McConnell Rt Hon Jack McConnell Labour

We are very keen to work not only with public bodies and businesses in Scotland, but with the voluntary sector and others who will have an interest in this matter. We want to ensure that, right across Scotland, bodies public and private, and individuals and organisations, are ready for the decision when it comes. We firmly believe that, at the right time, the introduction of Scotland and the rest of Britain into the European currency will be the right thing to do—but we must do it at the right time. We must be prepared, when it comes, to take full advantage.