Mr. Terence Higgins (Worthing) Will my right hon. Friend [the PM, Mrs Thatcher] take time between now and the conference in December to explain to her European colleagues what any first-year economic student could tell them, which is that the imposition of a single currency, as opposed to a common currency, would rule out for all time the most effective means of adjusting for national differences in costs and prices? Will she explain that that in turn would cause widespread unemployment, which would probably exist on a perpetual basis, and very serious financial imbalances?
The Prime Minister Yes, I agree entirely with my right hon. Friend. It would do just that. It would also mean that there would have to be enormous transfers of money from one country to another. It would cost us a great deal of money. One reason why some of the poorer countries want it is that they would get those big transfers of money. We are trying to contest that. If we have a single currency or a locked currency, the differences come out substantially in unemployment or vast movements of people from one country to another. Many people who talk about a single currency have never considered its full implications. (...)
The Prime Minister: I think that I would put it just a little differently from the right hon. Gentleman [Tony Benn], although I recognise some of the force of some of the points that he makes. When the Delors proposals for economic and monetary union came out, it was said immediately by my right hon. Friend [ Nigel Lawson ] the then Chancellor of the Exchequer that this was not really about monetary policy at all but about a back door to a federal Europe, taking many democratic powers away from democratically elected bodies and giving them to non-elected bodies. I believe fervently that that is true, which is why I shall have nothing to do with their definition of economic and monetary union.
We shall continue the co-operation that we have come to establish, as nation states. The Act that enabled us to go into Europe was passed on Second Reading by eight votes and it was made very clear then that we would not surrender our national identity, that it was a matter of co-operation. It was on the strength of that that many people went in. I am afraid that it would be quite different if we went for a single European currency and a central bank and for their definition of economic and monetary union.
Mr. Churchill (Davyhulme): Will my right hon. Friend tell the House how far she believes that, when the moment comes, Germany will be prepared to see the transfer of its monetary policy from the Bundesbank to a European central bank on which it will have one voice out of 12?
The Prime Minister: I think that it is wrong to think that all the Twelve have similar votes or influence in these matters. I think that some in Germany—only some—are backing the scheme because they know that the dominant voice, the predominant voice, on any central bank would be the German voice. If we did not retain our national identities in Europe, the dominant people in Europe would be German. The way to balance out the different views of Europe, as we have traditionally done throughout history, is by retaining our national identity.