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Parliamentary Sovereignty

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:04 pm on 22nd January 1988.

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Photo of Mrs Lynda Chalker Mrs Lynda Chalker , Wallasey 3:04 pm, 22nd January 1988

I have little time, and I want to answer my hon. Friend's points.

There can be no increase unless all member Governments and national Parliaments agree. so the decisive role of the House in this issue, as in others, is fully safeguarded.

My hon. Friend's concern about the metric year has often been expressed before. I am well aware that the Council adopted last October the proposal for a temporary switch from the normal system of advances to member states for expected FEOGA expenditure to reimbursements of up to two months, but that is helpful in improving budgetary control. We support a switch to reimbursement as a permanent feature of Community finance. It makes much more sense to reimburse member states for what they have spent than to pay them advances for what they think they will be likely to spend. I hope that my hon. Friend will re-examine that issue.

The butter stock disposal grieves us all, but the important thing is to ensure that the food mountains, once disposed of, are not allowed to grow again. We shall work on that as well.

I shall respond to my hon. Friend's other points in a letter, because it is important to set down clearly what is going on.

Community action is opening many opportunities in air services, financial trading services and capital liberalisation, and we want them to continue. They are massive opportunities for Britain.

I applaud my hon. Friend's tireless scrutiny of Community legislation. All of it matters far too much to be allowed to go through on the nod. I applaud his campaign for financial and agricultural reforms, which I am convinced that we shall win. I applaud his vigilance, but I must remind him that the sovereignty of Parliament is, above all, the power to act in the best interests of the nation.

That power would be constrained if we were not members of the Community in today's world. Our power to act is strengthened by our ability to take action, in common with other like-minded democracies, in ways that may be unheroic, mundane or even boring, but are none the less essential for the secure future of Britain. My hon. Friend has some things just a little out of proportion.

Question put and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at fifteen minutes past Three o'clock.