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1996 - PMQT Written Answers 18th July 1996

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 18th July 1996.


PRIME MINISTER:

European Central Bank

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Prime Minister what consultations the Governor of the Bank of England held with him in drawing up the Maastricht proposals for a European central bank; and if he consented to those proposals.

The Prime Minister: The predecessor of the existing Governor of the Bank of England was a member of a committee which compiled the so-called Delors report on economic and monetary union, published in April 1989. Although influenced by this report, the plans for economic and monetary union set out in the EC treaty as amended at Maastricht were the result of negotiations between member states' Governments and were ratified according to national constitutional requirements. In particular, protocol No. 11 to the EC treaty requires Parliament and the Government to give consent to the United Kingdom's participation in the third stage of economic an monetary union, on the terms contained in the treaty, before the United Kingdom would be able to take part. The Government have stated that they will seek to participate in the third stage only if they believe that it would be in the national interest to do so, on the basis of a full assessment of the implications for the United Kingdom at the appropriate time.


Monetary and Exchange Rate Policy

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Prime Minister (1) what steps he will take in the intergovernmental conference to ensure that decisions of the EU, the European system of central banks and the European Court of Justice concerning monetary and exchange rate policy are not binding on the United Kingdom;

(2) if he will ensure at the intergovernmental conference that no restriction, with special reference to the role of the Bank of England and EU institutions, is placed directly or indirectly on the power of the United Kingdom Government to determine monetary and exchange rate policy.

The Prime Minister: Protocol No. 11 to the EC treaty on certain provisions relating to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland states that the United Kingdom shall not be obliged or committed to participate in the third stage of economic and monetary union without a separate decision to do so by the Government and Parliament. Paragraph 4 of the protocol states that the United Kingdom would

"retain its powers in the field of monetary policy according to national law" were it to notify the Council of Ministers that it did not intend to move to the third stage. Paragraphs 5 and 8 of the protocol list those articles from the treaty and the statute of the European system of central banks from which the United Kingdom would be specifically excluded in these circumstances.

As the Government's White Paper on the intergovernmental conference, "A Partnership of Nations", made clear, it is not expected that economic and monetary union will be discussed at the IGC. The Government have no reason to challenge that expectation, and will not be seeking to change the treaty arrangements relating to the United Kingdom.


Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Prime Minister if he will set up an inquiry to examine (a) the reasons for the spread of BSE, (b) the use of animal material in feedstuffs, (c) the effectiveness of the measures taken to deal with the situation since 1986 and (d) the quality of the advice available to the Government on this matter.

The Prime Minister: No. These are essentially technical scientific issues which have been considered many times by the Government's own committee of independent scientific advisers, the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee. I have every confidence in the quality of the advice from SEAC.


Engagements

Mr. Harry Greenway: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Thursday 18 July.

Sir Peter Tapsell: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Thursday 18 July.

The Prime Minister: This morning I presided at a meeting of the Cabinet and had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House, I shall be having further meetings later today.


Burma

Mr. Fatchett: To ask the Prime Minister what representations he has made to the Burmese Government about the death of James Leo Nichols, a United Kingdom citizen; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 17 July 1996]: Together with our EU partners, we issued a statement on 5 July calling for a full and satisfactory explanation from the Burmese authorities of the circumstances leading up to and surrounding the death on 22 June of Mr. Nichols, who was a Burmese citizen. The statement also called for an investigation into Mr. Nichols' death by the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Burma.