Gordon's "End of Days." The Beginning.
In The Beginning was The pamphlet.
Let me remind the right hon. and learned Gentleman also of the statements that have been made in the Centre for Policy Studies' Conservative agenda pamphlet, which recommends:
"Give the Bank of England its independence, and a statutory responsibility for meeting certain targets in terms of inflation and economic growth . . . remove the political risk premium on interest rates . . . the Bank will . . . need reform. The current autocratic structure gives the Government too much power . . . interest rate decisions should be taken by a Council".
Those are the very arrangements that we have introduced. The author of that pamphlet was the ex-Chancellor's own former political adviser, Tessa Keswick.
There is widespread support for what we have done. The Confederation of British Industry has welcomed it; the Institute of Directors has welcomed it; and the chambers of commerce have welcomed it--just about everyone except the six contenders for the Conservative leadership, who are vying with each other for extremism, has welcomed it. I say to the shadow Chancellor: I have had the courage of his convictions.
Bank of England and Financial Regulation
Madam Speaker: Statement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Mr. Kenneth Clarke (Rushcliffe): On a point of order, Madam Speaker.
Madam Speaker: Order. The right hon. and learned Gentleman understands that points of order come after statements.
Mr. Clarke: The point of order is relevant to the timing of the statement. I ask for your ruling on the procedure that will cover the delivery of statements to the House in this Parliament. This will be the first statement in the present Parliament. In the past, the convention has been that advance copies of statements are made available to the Opposition about half an hour before their delivery. It has also been the convention that the annunciator shows a clear description of the contents of a statement. [Hon. Members: "No."] Oh, yes.
On this occasion, I am sure that my opposite numbers in the Liberal Democrat party and in the nationalist parties have had the experience that I had. At 16 minutes past 3, an extremely lengthy statement was delivered to the Opposition Whips Office. The scope of the statement extends far beyond the "Bank of England", which is how it is described on the annunciator, and covers reform of the entire Financial Services Act 1986 and the regulatory system for insurance and financial services as well as banking.
May we have your ruling, Madam Speaker, or perhaps a statement from the Government, about the way in which Parliament is to be treated in future on these matters, and whether this is to be typical of the way that the House is to be informed of decisions?