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Q+A with Alistair Darling, British Chancellor of the Exchequer Add to ...

And that's why it's important to get everyone into one international forum to try and resolve these matters. And they're not easy. Everyone else has got domestic politics with a large or small P. But I think, again, twelve months ago people were talking about this, including the Chinese. The problem's not going away, and it will come back if we don't sort it.

Q: Do you agree with the G20 ministers that there should be a shift in reserve currencies?

A: You can discuss that forever and a day, but the fact is that there is a reserve currency at the moment, and what would be another one is open to question. We could go down a blind alley and ignore the questions that do need fixing.

Q: The issue of continuing stimulus versus getting the fiscal house in order - is it possible to have a coordinated answer among countries? Can that happen?

A: I think it will happen, de facto. There is a remarkable degree of unanimity in relation to the need for fiscal stimulus, and most countries have done that. And I agree with what Dominique Strauss-Kahn [head of the International Monetary Fund]said over the last few weeks: that to withdraw support prematurely is a bigger risk than to delay it.

We're very clear that once the recovery is established, and our deficit reduction plan starts in 2011, we will more than halve the deficit over a four-year period.

Q: But not until 2011.

A: There's a slight tightening next year. But I think to take the support off prematurely would be to risk delaying the recovery - and there seems to be a change of emphasis from the opposition, so maybe we're all agreed on that now.

I think we will see recovery: unemployment is less than we expected, less than in the US or euro area, though it's still too high for us. If you look at business confidence, there are signs there.

Q: Is that backed by real consumption or just stimulus funds flowing through the system?

A: I am confident that we are on the right path to recovery. But the public sector's role at the moment is to fill the gap that really needs to be filled by private investment coming back. I think there are signs that it will come back, but it's not come back yet, so that's why I have maintained public investment.

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