European Union

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 David Knox Mr David Knox , Staffordshire Moorlands 12:00 am, 25th July 1984

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about progress made towards achieving the objectives set out in the solemn declaration on European union made by the Heads of Government at the Stuttgart summit.

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

The recent European Council discussed the future development of Europe and agreed that two ad hoc committees would be set up, which will look at ways of improving European co-operation.

Photo of Mr David Knox Mr David Knox , Staffordshire Moorlands

Does my hon. Friend agree that it is essential that Britain should play a full and constructive part in implementing the solemn declaration and that it will be disastrous if we stand on the sidelines while others act?

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

The Government intend to play a full and constructive part in the deliberations on these matters. I assure my hon. Friend that that will continue to be our priority.

Photo of Mr Tony Marlow Mr Tony Marlow , Northampton North

Will the Government review their decision to ask the House to approve an increase in European own resources? As it is patently obvious to everyone that the Community has no wish to live within its current ceiling, what faith can we have in the new ceiling?

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

As my hon. Friend well knows, the Government's recommendation for an increase in own resources will take place only if we are satisfied that the agreement still to be reached on proposals for budgetary discipline meets our requirements and what we believe to be necessary in the interests of the Community.

Photo of Mr Bowen Wells Mr Bowen Wells , Hertford and Stortford

Will my hon. Friend describe the form of budgetary discipline currently under discussion?

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

We are concerned that the general statement on the need to control expenditure should be implemented by means of budgetary procedures that will ensure that in future years Community expenditure is kept within the sums determined by the Budget Councils.

Photo of Mr Peter Blaker Mr Peter Blaker , Blackpool South

What proposals are the Government putting forward for further liberalisation of the internal market?

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

The Government attach substantial importance to the creation of a genuine common market. We believe that there is scope for progress not only in the simplification of frontier controls, but in liberalisation of services throughout the Community.

Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing Mr Nigel Spearing , Newham South

The Minister mentioned two ad hoc committees. Will he now answer my earlier question? Did the Prime Minister approve paragraph 6 of the document which, among other things, established those two committees?

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

So far as I know, that paragraph did not specifically establish committees, but I have made it clear that we welcome the appointment of the committees and intend to play a full and constructive part in their deliberations.

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

Does my hon. Friend agree that the solemn declaration raises important constitutional issues for the United Kingdom? Before the committees do too much and before any further progress is made on this, may we have a full debate on the matter in this House?

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

The solemn declaration to which my hon. Friend refers is what is often known as the Genscher-Colombo proposal, which has no constitutional implications for the United Kingdom. The committees have been established to look at practical ways to improve the workings of Community institutions and co-operation between member states.