CBI survey shows building materials producers lead pro-single currency opinion.
Materials producers are more in favour of Britain joining the euro than most other sectors of industry, according to a survey by the CBI.

In a poll of its members conducted by MORI, the confederation found that 52% of UK industry bosses want Britain to join the single currency, either as soon as possible or by making a commitment to join and agreeing a timetable.

The same poll also solicited the opinion of 20 members of the Building Material Producers – about one-third of the total. Three-quarters of these responded that they were in favour of economic and monetary union.

BMP chief executive Michael Ankers said: "Our members are running more international businesses compared with other sectors of industry, and they want to see stability of exchange rates, which EMU can deliver.

"They suffer from unstable exchange rates.

If there is a move 2% either way, they don't worry. But when the pound strengthened very strongly in 1997, building materials exports fell for the first time in 12 years." The CBI survey also showed that two-thirds of BMP members believed that staying out of the euro for more than six years would harm the British economy. In the overall survey, only 50% of industrialists believed this.

The same proportion of BMP members believed that to avoid EMU for more than six years would harm their businesses; two-thirds thought it would harm their competitiveness.

More than 90% of BMP members that responded to the MORI poll said joining the euro would result in lower interest rates. And nearly three-quarters of BMP members said EMU would lead to greater economic stability. In contrast, only half of all CBI members said they believed this.

Although BMP members are firmly in favour of Britain joining the euro, the CBI described the overall result of its poll as "a clear yes, but not an unconditional one".

The result highlighted the fact that a significant body of its members want a "wait and see" approach, and that a minority continues to be opposed.

The overall CBI survey found that 31% of those polled thought Britain should wait to see how the euro develops before making even an "in principle" commitment, and 5% thought Britain should not join before 2007.

An even higher 10% said Britain should never join the euro.

As a result, the CBI has drawn up a policy statement that says it is in favour, in principle, of Britain joining the euro, subject to some key conditions.

These conditions are that all countries involved are in sound fiscal conditions, and that there is a shift away from state intervention in euro-zone countries.