Spending Priorities

Oral Answers to Questions — European Community – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 23rd January 1985.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr George Park Mr George Park , Coventry North East 12:00 am, 23rd January 1985

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what effect he expects the text on budgetary discipline adopted at the Dublin summit will have on the spending priorities of the European Economic Community.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Howe Mr Geoffrey Howe , East Surrey

Your precision is admirable, Mr. Speaker.

The agreement provides that the net expenditure relating to agriculture markets will increase by less than the rate of growth of the own resources base. This provision should allow greater headroom within the VAT ceiling for expenditure on non-agriculture policies, in accordance with the maximum rate provisions of the treaty.

Photo of Mr George Park Mr George Park , Coventry North East

Is it not a fact that the budgetary discipline document will do nothing to prevent agricultural expenditure from increasing as a proportion of the budget? Given the vast surplus in all farm products, is there any justification for such an increase?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Howe Mr Geoffrey Howe , East Surrey

The budgetary discipline provisions provide a framework within which the decisions about agricultural prices will have to be taken. As a result, the increase in the 1985 draft budget for CAP spending stands at 5 per cent., which is the lowest figure for several years. Under the Labour Government the average annual increase was 28 per cent. Thus, the measures are already having an effect.