To sum up:
we believe that, in principle, British membership of a successful single currency would be beneficial to Britain and to Europe; the key factor is whether the economic benefits of joining for business and industry are clear and unambiguous. If they are, there is no constitutional bar to British membership of EMU;
applying the economic tests, it is not in this country's interest to join in the first wave of EMU starting on 1st January 1999 and, barring some fundamental and unforeseen change in economic circumstances, making a decision, this Parliament, to join is not realistic;
but in order to give ourselves a genuine choice in the future, it is essential that the Government and business prepare intensively during this Parliament, so that Britain will be in a position to join a single currency, should we wish to, early in the next Parliament.
On Europe, Madam Speaker, the time of indecision is over. The period for practical preparation has begun. Today we begin to build a new consensus - modern and outward looking - for a country that throughout its history has looked outward to the world.
We are the first British government to declare for the principle of monetary union. The first to state that there is no over-riding constitutional bar to membership. The first to make clear and unambiguous economic benefit to the country the decisive test. And the first to offer its strong and constructive support to our European partners to create more employment and more prosperity.
The policy I have outlined will bring stability to business, direction to our economy, and long term purpose to our country. It is the right policy for Britain in Europe. More important it is the right policy for the future of Britain and I commend it to the House."