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Monday, 13 March, 2000, 18:21 GMT
Livingstone: I'll fight for the euro
Ken Livingstone:
Ken Livingstone: Euro vital for business
Ken Livingstone has vowed to fight for the UK to join the single European currency if he is elected as London mayor.

London Mayor
But official Labour candidate Frank Dobson said there were more important issues at stake than having a "municipal foreign policy".

Mr Livingstone said major companies could leave London if there were doubts over the UK's intention to join the euro.

He said: "The mayor would have to argue long and hard to persuade people about the benefits.

"There can be no part of the UK which would benefit more or suffer most if we got this decision wrong."

Speaking at a mayoral debate organised by the European Union and the Association of London Government at the City's Guildhall, Mr Livingstone was backed by Liberal Democrat candidate Susan Kramer.

Ms Kramer said up to half a million jobs were dependent on London being a major financial centre.

But Mr Dobson said he would be concentrating on tackling some of London's major problems such as crime and poor health.

Frank Dobson
Frank Dobson: No congestion charging
He said: "Unless we deliver at home there is no point in having a municipal foreign policy."

The three major candidates - Conservative Steve Norris failed to attend the debate - also clashed over plans to introduce congestion charging on the capital's roads.

Mr Dobson has ruled out introducing congestion charges for the duration of his first four years in office saying no "sensible" electronic scheme could be introduced before then.

'Great mistake'

And he warned that a paper tax disc charging drivers to come into London would either mean checkpoints across the city or "hoards" of traffic wardens checking parked cars or pulling people over.

But Mr Livingstone said he wanted the early introduction of congestion charges to cut by 15% the number of people driving into London.

He said: "It would be a great mistake to see London committed to four more years of these levels of congestion."

And Ms Kramer accused Mr Dobson of "chickening out" of introducing much needed congestion charges.

The debate came after suggestions that Mr Blair was failing to show enough support for Mr Dobson's campaign.

Appeal for support

Mr Dobson has said the time had come for Mr Blair to "spell out very clearly" his support.

But while saying the prime minister was confident Mr Dobson would win the mayoral election, Downing Street said there was nothing in Mr Blair's diary this week regarding the London campaign.

A spokeswoman for Mr Dobson's campaign, asked when the next joint appearance would be, insisted: "The prime minister's extremely busy and doesn't have time for a photo-opportunity every week."

The spokeswoman added: "I'm sure between now and 4 May there will be one."

Meanwhile, Mr Livingstone has launched an appeal for financial support for his campaign in a newspaper advertisement in the London Evening Standard asking for donations ranging from 5 to 100.

  • Though he did not attend Monday's debate, Steve Norris announced a fresh transport policy: charging contractors for digging up London's streets. Mr Norris said: "At the moment we allow utilities and cable operators to dig up the streets of London for non-essential work at times that suit them, not the people who use the roads."

    "And we do not charge them for the privilege."

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    See also:

    13 Mar 00 | UK Politics
    Dobson's tax-free transport pledge
    12 Mar 00 | UK Politics
    Hands off my beard: Dobson
    09 Mar 00 | UK Politics
    Livingstone's race for campaign cash
    08 Mar 00 | UK Politics
    PM rallies behind Dobson
    07 Mar 00 | UK Politics
    Mayor candidates line up for debate
    07 Mar 00 | UK Politics
    The mayor race in pictures
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