24 May 2001 | Robin Parker
A quick decision on the UK's adoption of the euro will clarify the future for purchasing and supply managers after the general election, according to a leading industry spokesman.
Roy Ayliffe, CIPS's director of professional practice, said: "The sooner the issue of the Euro is resolved, the sooner business will know where it stands.
"A referendum could take place within two years, but I hope the issue is not dragged out any further as purchasers want it resolved one way or another."
Specific areas of supply will need an extensive period of preparation if Britain adopts the euro. Analysts have warned of the potential difficulty of transferring IT systems within two years and retailers in Europe have registered concern over the supply of the notes and coins.
The issue of the single currency has divided the main political parties. While the Conservatives have vowed to keep the pound for at least the next parliament, Labour says it will hold a referendum on the issue when the conditions for joining are right. Only the Liberal Democrats are squarely in favour of joining.
CIPS has spelt out a range of policies aimed at influencing politicians on such issues as e-commerce, public sector procurement and ethical supply chains on the parliamentary news website, ePolitix.
Public-private partnerships, a hallmark of Labour's policies after being launched by the Conservatives, are likely to have a continuing impact, said Ayliffe.
Each of the main parties has positioned itself as the champion of progressive business. Their manifestos contain pledges to cut red tape and to be transparent in dealing with business.
The Liberal Democrats have drawn up a list of 25 regulations they want scrapped, Labour has promised an extension of the 10p tax band to help small firms, and the Conservatives want a deregulation commission for new business regulations.
CIPS' call for greater flexibility in European Union procurement rules is also echoed in the Labour manifesto. The party extends its bureaucracy-cutting proposals to Europe, where it calls for liberalisation of financial services and utilities.
The social and ethical responsibility of business is likely to remain in the spotlight. Of the three leading parties, however, only the Liberal Democrats give it much prominence, seeking to require large companies to issue reports on their social and environmental responsibilities.