European Community

Oral Answers to Questions — House of Commons – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9 May 1983.

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Photo of Mr Teddy Taylor Mr Teddy Taylor , Southend East 12:00, 9 May 1983

asked the Lord President of the Council what are his responsibilities for the dissemination of information about European Community affairs.

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , Oswestry

I have a general responsibility for coordinating information on Government policy, including matters relating to the Community.

Photo of Mr Teddy Taylor Mr Teddy Taylor , Southend East

In view of the widespread rumours that an election might be announced soon, will the Leader of the House say who is responsible for saying whether it is still the Government's firm intention that a rebate for 1983 must be resolved on 6 June and no later?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , Oswestry

Clearly, if an election were to be held on the date mentioned by my hon. Friend it would be one factor in the Government's negotiating posture. I assure my hon. Friend that we shall fight sturdily for our corner in these matters and thus contrast our performance with the negative attitude of our opponents.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Wandsworth Battersea North

Has 10 years' membership of this organisation altered the right hon. Gentleman's views on the subject?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , Oswestry

The Community, like beauty, lies in the eye of the beholder.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Epping Forest

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the less information we have about federalist pretentions and pettifogging harmonisation, the more support there will be in the United Kingdom for the EC?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , Oswestry

It is certainly true that there will be a much happier commitment to the alliance that we have within the EC if it is clearly based upon national institutions and the interest of the nation state.

Photo of Mr Ioan Evans Mr Ioan Evans , Aberdare

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that beauty is only skin deep, that membership of the EC has cost us £1 million for every day that we have been a member over the past 10 years, 4 million unemployed, and a loss of 2 million manufacturing jobs?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , Oswestry

If over the next few weeks the hon. Gentleman conducts his campaign with that rather simple approach to what is essentially a fairly complex problem there will be growing support for a party that supports fraternal association with our partners and the championing of national interests.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

Will the Leader of the House confirm that in the 10 years since Britain joined the EC, which he consistently voted against—36 times in the first Session, I think—[Interruption.] Yes, he held the record on the Tory Benches. Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that the total net cost to Britain has been £3,911 million, of which £2,476 million was spent during the four years of the Tory Government—62·5 per cent. of the net total—contrary to what the media says about the Prime Minister bringing home barrowloads of money from Brussels?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , Oswestry

I can neither confirm nor deny the hon. Gentleman's statistics, but the Prime Minister and the Treasury Bench have been much more aggressive and successful in the prosecution of the national interest than the supine bunch who preceded them.