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Wednesday, 6 November, 2002, 10:30 GMT
Euro details 'in Queen's Speech'
Houses of Parliament against a background of euro notes
Renewed speculation about a UK euro referendum has been sparked by Commons leader Robin Cook letting slip there will be reference to the currency in next week's Queen's Speech.

Mr Cook would not say whether he meant the speech would include plans for legislation on a UK referendum on the euro.


I am not saying that the paving legislation is not there, nor am I saying it is there

Robin Cook
But he said: "The euro will be there," adding that the speech would contain "interesting" details on the currency.

With campaigners and political observers on the look-out for any clues over the government's plans on a referendum, Mr Cook's comments came as a surprise.

He told a Westminster lunch: "You would not expect me to talk about what is in (the Queen's Speech), that is capital treason.

"Sure, the euro will be there and I think you will be interested in it, but you will have to wait and see."

When asked if plans for a referendum in the next Parliament would have to be set out in the Queen's Speech, Mr Cook said: "We are quite clear about the convention in which we operate here, which is that anything we put in the Queen's Speech, we have to seek to implement in the subsequent session.

"But we do not exclude from doing other things. The fact that something is not specifically mentioned in the Queen's Speech doesn't mean that we cannot then subsequently introduce it."

Clear message

He was pressed further on whether the speech would contain legislation which would pave the way for a referendum.

Robin Cook
Robin Cook: 'Interesting' euro details
But he said: "I have to be very, very clear that I am not saying anything about the Queen's Speech, and I am not saying that the paving legislation is not there, nor am I saying it is there."

The government's policy on the euro is to say it will recommend entry to the currency if and when five key economic tests are met.

And Tony Blair's spokesman played down the significance of Mr Cook's remarks.

Advice

He said: "I would hope you would be very interested in every aspect of the Queen's Speech.

"My strong advice is not to get too excited. I don't think that anybody would think that we are in a different place after the Queen's Speech than before on the euro."

In May, former Transport Secretary Stephen Byers said there would be an announcement on legislation on the euro at about the same time as the Queen's Speech.

And Mr Blair's spokesman said on Tuesday: "I think we have been down this road before.

"The policy is precisely the same the last time the euro was mentioned at a women's lobby lunch as it is now."


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See also:

16 May 02 | Politics
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02 Jul 02 | Business
01 Jul 02 | Politics
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