Federalism

Oral Answers to Questions — European Community – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25th July 1984.

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Photo of Mr Harvey Proctor Mr Harvey Proctor , Billericay 12:00 am, 25th July 1984

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations Her Majesty's Government have received calling for increased federalism in the European Economic Community.

Photo of Malcolm Rifkind Malcolm Rifkind Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

None from European Community member states. But the then President of the European Parliament formally handed my right hon. and learned Friend a copy of the European Parliament's draft treaty on European union on 11 July.

Photo of Mr Harvey Proctor Mr Harvey Proctor , Billericay

As my hon. Friend has received no representations from within Britain to go down the road to European federalism, and as there was no mandate last year from our general election for increased measures of European federalism, will it be the Government's policy not to head further down the road to federalism in Europe during the lifetime of this Parliament?

Photo of Malcolm Rifkind Malcolm Rifkind Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

The Government have always made it clear that we do not support moves towards European federalism. We believe that the Community has a substantial number of practical problems to address itself to and that it could do a great service to all the people of the Community if it concentrated on those matters for the foreseeable future.

Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing Mr Nigel Spearing , Newham South

Will the resolution of the European Assembly, to which the Minister has just referred, be considered by the new ad hoc committee of personal representatives? Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that the establishment of that ad hoc committee was in paragraph 6 of the unpublished presidential communiqué? Was that paragraph expressly assented to by the Prime Minister at Fontainebleau?

Photo of Malcolm Rifkind Malcolm Rifkind Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

The agenda of the committee to which the hon. Gentleman referred has not been finalised. The Government are perfectly happy to participate in that committee and to play a constructive part in its deliberations.

Mr. Jackson:

My hon. Friend has made several references to Britain's success in obtaining money from the European social fund. Is there not a risk, in the Government's position on the cost overruns in the 1984 budget, that payments from the social fund may be cut in future?

Photo of Malcolm Rifkind Malcolm Rifkind Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

No, there is not such a risk. The sort of expenditure that would be incurred if the overruns were to be financed would not help to reduce the imbalance in the present expenditure of the Community in the way that the United Kingdom believes appropriate, as my hon. Friend knows. The overspend would be caught purely by agricultural expenditure, which already takes far too high a proportion of Community spending.