GORDON BROWN topped the agenda this morning after yesterday's speech in the Commons where he deliver...
GORDON BROWN topped the agenda this morning after yesterday's speech in the Commons where he delivered his verdict on the euro.
Although the chancellor stressed the benefits that euro membership could bring to Britain, Brown also announced that, so far, only one of the five tests for entry to the single currency had been met, reports the Telegraph.
Adding to the four remaining tests that need to be fulfilled, Brown also raised the barrier for early membership of the euro by making it conditional on major reforms to prevent a return to boom and bust in the housing market.
While Brown did not exclude the possibility of a referendum in the autumn of next year, he concluded that the economy still has a long way to go before Britain could ditch the pound for the euro.
According to Brown, the volatile nature of the housing market was a major hurdle to euro membership, and he outlined several reforms intended to create greater stability.
Brown's speech also had little effect on most markets as City analysts deemed the chancellor's verdict had brought Britain no closer to a euro referendum than before, writes the Scotsman.
Even though Brown primised to take a fresh look at the single currency in the 2004 Budget, economists believe there is a small chance he will be able to give the thumbs up to a eurozone vote within two years.
ALSO DISCUSSED in the Commons yesterday was the pensions crisis as pressure on the Government to find a solution intensified, writes the Times.
The latest revelation is that the pension fund shortfall among Britain's top companies could be up to £13 billion higher than first thought, according to a new method of analysing the strength of company pension schemes .
The new method - set to be published later this week by the Institute of Actuaries – will examine whether a company's assets are sufficient to buy all of its retired workers, current staff and deferred fund members an annuity, should the firm suddenly collapse into administration.
The new calculation identifies deficits that are 10% to 20% more than those under FRS 17. It means that the combined pension fund deficit of the FTSE 100 could be as much as £78bn compared to £65bn estimated under FRS 17.
Chairman of the pensions board at the Institute of Actuaries Ronnie Bowie says the new method would be compulsory by the end of the year, if backed by members.
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