Motion made, and Question proposed,
That, for the purposes of any Act resulting from the European Communities (Finance) Bill, it is expedient to authorise—
The money resolution, which represents an increase in expenditure of at least £200 million to £300 million net and, according to the Minister earlier, as much as £1 billion gross, should not be allowed to pass unchallenged. That is against the background of some £4·7 billion in net expenditure to the Common Market. After all the grants, repayments and gains from rebates which the Prime Minister alleges, since 1984 we have paid out more than £4 billion, and we shall continue to do so. That money could be used for the excellent purpose of helping to rejuvenate and regenerate the National Health Service or in providing long-term jobs and stopping the continuing erosion of jobs to which the Common Market has led.
Membership of the EEC has been a millstone around our necks. We have a deficit in our balance of trade of manufactured goods of some £11 billion. The Minister said that some of the payments in this money resolution—between £200 million and £300 million—would go to the structural funds in order to offset the adverse impact of the development of the internal market by 1992. It is patently absurd for our Government to hand to another organisation money which it then scrutinises and from which it takes a hefty percentage for administration, only to hand some, but not all, back to us for some sort of remedial action in the regions. It is no longer in the province of the elected Government.
While I disagree with virtually everything that the Government do, they are elected and are to some degree accountable. Certainly, they will be accountable at the general election, which is not true of the Commissioners. It is largely the Commission and its machinery which decides where the money will be spent. The Council of Ministers, which meets in secret so is not publicly accountable as we are in this House, lays down only general spending guidelines. The Commission and various directorates-general decide where the money will go.
It is absurd for us to hand over an additional £200 million to £300 million only for many local authorities to spend large sums going in good faith to Brussels to plead their case cap in hand because, continually pressed by the Government through rate support grant cuts and so on, they are short of money. It is wrong, inefficient and undemocratic to hand money over to another body only to receive a relatively small proportion of it back.
I am more than uncommonly grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. Is it not time that he straightened out his argument? Is it not a fact that most Socialist member states and Members of Parliament and the British Labour group argue for an increase in the structural funds which the hon. Gentleman is attacking? Why is he out of line?
The hon. Gentleman, as usual, is badly misinformed. The vast majority of the Socialist group in the Common Market happen to be pro-Market fanatics. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh".] They are chosen on a list system based on proportional representation which a majority in this House would reject and which gives great power to the party ladership. In most Socialist parties in the EEC, if anybody steps out of line, he is immediately knocked off the list for that political dissent. I do not take too much notice of the hon. Gentleman's views.
The fact is that those of us in the British Labour group are critical of the maldistribution of Common Market funds—70 per cent. or therabouts goes to the common agricultural policy. Ever since we joined in 1973 members have been claiming that reform is round the corner or will come next year, but it never comes. The proportion of expenditure that goes on the CAP has been increasing, with one or two ebbs and flows, virtually since we entered the Common Market. I shall come to a report from the Select Committee which very much substantiates my claim.
My hon. Friend said that in the Common Market countries other than Britain have a list system in which Members of Parliament are picked off according to how they fit in with their party. My hon. Friend raised a point of order about the Tory Chief Whip standing outside the Division Lobby ticking off the names of those Tory Members of Parliament who had voted with us against the Bill. One is bound to get the impression that Tory Members of Parliament are getting ready to operate their own list system.
It sounds very much like that, as my hon. Friend says. I am worried about what shreds of democracy are left in the Tory party, judging by the way in which two brutal-looking thugs stood outside the No Lobby looking menacingly towards those who had voted with the Labour party.
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The hon. Gentleman has just been talking about thugs. There is an article in today's edition of The Independent about Sergeant Bob Cryer. Will you clarify, Mr. Deputy Speaker, whether the hon. Gentleman is the Sergeant Bob Cryer referred to in The Independent? He is talking about thugs——
I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker for scrupulously carrying out the Standing Orders of the House and preventing Tory Members who who do not seem to know much about it from driving a coach and horses through them.
Let me get back to the hon. Member for Darlington. There is a pro-Market uncritical majority of all the parties in the Assembly, so anybody in the House who claims that the Assembly, called by some a Parliament—but it is in fact a consultative Assembly, that and no more—will act as some sort of check, is living in cloud-cuckoo-land.
I am grateful, and I undertake to the hon. Gentleman, who has been most courteous, not to intervene again if he will answer this specific question. He referred to the proportion of agriculture expenditure increasing. I should have drawn his attention to the fact that throughout that time not only was there a Socialist majority in the European Assembly that he despises, but he was a member of it. I shall not labour that point, but I ask him this specific question. Does he now still perceive that Socialist majority, including the British Labour group, to be uncritical, and if so, will he vote for it in next year's elections?
The Socialist majority that the hon. Gentleman talks about is an illusion. There is not a Socialist majority in the Common Market Assembly. The Socialist group represents about 150 out of 450 and on anybody's calculation that is a minority. When one couples up all the European democrats, the Le Pen Fascist group and the rest of the Right wing, they have a majority. When one couples up those who are Euro-fanatics and totally uncritical, there is an even bigger majority.
As I mentioned, the Assembly does not represent a critical body. There are strong strains and pressures for federalism, and for even more power to be taken away from bodies such as this and put across to the Assemblies in Brussels and Strasbourg. Jacques Delors does not represent an isolated strain, talking to a particular audience. His view is representative of the majority of the Commission and almost certainly the majority of the Assembly.
The Single European Act started out as a campaign by Alteiro Spinelli, a member of the Communist list in Italy, and his campaign was supported by the European Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the Liberal Democrats, but not, at any stage, by the British Labour group. That campaign by Spinelli was to wrest power from the member states and transfer it to the EEC assembly.
The fifth report of the Treasury and Civil Service Select Committee was referred to in the debate. It is a Committee with a Conservative majority, and on page 7 of its report, it states:
We are not convinced that an inter-institutional agreement is the equivalent of a firm and legally binding text. Given the Community's failure in the past to control its expenditure and notwithstanding the many significant improvements which were agreed at the Brussels summit, we believe there are still grounds for remaining sceptical about the prospects for proper budgetary control in the future. We believe the Government should press the Community to adopt the most rigorous forms of budget management.
Although the Government may press the case, our experience from 1973 onwards is that there is little or no budgetary control. The Select Committe, which has a Conservative majority, sets that out lucidly. Therefore I believe that we must have strong reservations about a money resolution that hands over between another £200 million and £400 million to a body that experience and its proven record has shown to be incapable of budgetary control.
We may suppose that some of that money will come back, but to hand money to another body, which has proved itself to be inefficient, in the hope that we will get a tiny share of it back, is an extremely inefficient way in which to deal with the matter. The money resolution, in common with the Bill, is much misplaced.
The hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) has an honourable record in opposing the expansion of European expenditure.
When I came in to listen to the hon. Gentleman I thought that he might say something that I could support. I then discovered that he was objecting to an increase in European expenditure on the grounds that the European Parliament—or "the Assembly" as he has described and criticised it—would be assenting to that expenditure. Back in 1984, he offered himself to the European electorate as a member of that European Assembly and for five long years he sat as a member of it. Had the same argument come from the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner), we would have treated it with slightly more respect. Instead, it came from an hon. Member who took European money, air tickets, jobs, junkets and expenses. He now has the nerve to lecture us on increases in European expenditure.
That directive is outside the scope of the resolution that is before us.
We must not disregard the fact that the hon. Member for Bradford, South was a part of the European Assembly, and voted time and time again for increases in the European budget and increases in the structural funds—the philosophy and the theory of social space, which we now hear so much about on behalf of the poorer member states. The hon. Gentleman voted for the extra moneys. Yet he has the nerve to lecture us about increases for the funds.
We know that we have a far greater chance of controlling the funds and regulation expenditure through our Ministers at the Council of Ministers than the Ministers that the hon. Member for Bradford, South would have supported. There may be other financial resolutions on which the hon. Gentleman and I will agree, but he should be the last person to lecture the House on European expenditure. I have one piece of advice for the hon. Gentleman before he tells us what view we should take of the resolution and before we come to vote in the European elections next May. If I were the hon. Gentleman, I would keep very quiet.
I owe an apology to the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) for not giving way to him in the concluding minutes of the Second Reading debate. I am delighted to have the opportunity of rendering that apology. I think that I have the general purport of what he would have said if he had intervened at that stage. I apologise also to the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) for not saying that I would answer the questions which he asked subsequently to the one to which I responded. I understand that he intended his final question to be broadly rhetorical.
There was one question not asked of me during the Second Reading debate which would have been relevant to the resolution and to which I should like to allude. No one asked me what would happen if we were asked for intergovernmental agreement payments before the Bill has been enacted. It is likely that IGA payments will be requested from I August. If the Bill has not been enacted by then, the Government envisage making payments from the contingency fund, given that the House has signalled its approval of the principle of making IGA payments by giving the Bill a Second Reading.
This would be in accordance with the purpose of the contingency fund to meet urgent services in Anticipation of provision for those services by Parliament. At the same time it would take account of the key tests on the use of the fund, including, as explained by the then Financial Secretary to the Treasury in 1974, the right hon. Member for Dudley, East (Dr. Gilbert):
No Government of either party would be reckless enough to incur expenditure on any subject by using the fund if they thought there was any possibility of Parliament's later rejecting the substantive proposals when placed before the House."—[Official Report, 14 May 1974; Vol. 873, c. 1250.]
The advances from the contingency fund would be repaid through the Consolidated Fund once the Bill had received Royal Assent.
Why should the Paymaster General be so presumptuous after the Bill has received a Second Reading? The Bill has two separate and distinct components and I should like to know why he presumes that the House will approve it in Committee and on Third Reading. Why was this not part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, or that of the Foreign Secretary, on Second Reading? The House should have been told at that stage that this strange, perverse and, I would suggest, probably unprecedented procedure would be followed in the circumstances that have been outlined by the Paymaster General.
It is not unprecedented, because I alluded to the guidance given by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury in the Labour Administration in 1974 as to the use of the contingency fund.
As to the likelihood of the Bill being defeated, I draw to the attention of the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson) the fact that the majority on Second Reading exceeded by a substantial majority the Government's natural majority in the House. Even the presence of the right hon. Member for Islwyn (Mr. Kinnock), the right hon. and learned Member for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith) and the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) would not be enough to make up for that deficit.
The question was not asked, at least in one quarter, because the contingency would not appear to arise. The Paymaster General will know that the undertaking is not given to the Commission or to the Council, but is an undertaking of member states outside the treaty. He has just told us that there may be a request for the money to be paid, but who can legally make such a request? The undertaking is outside the terms of the treaty of Rome and formally nothing to do with the EEC.
The hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) knows, because of the procedures through which we have been at various stages, including evidence that I have given to the Treasury and Civil Service Select Committee, that the procedures relating to the budget for 1988 contained an assumption that in the fulness of time there would be an IGA. That IGA has now been agreed by the member states, but I agree that it is subject to the approval of both Houses and to a request for payment. That contingency may arise on 1 August.
|Division No. 405]||[10.56 pm|
|Alexander, Richard||Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael||Bowis, John|
|Allason, Rupert||Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes|
|Amess, David||Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard|
|Amos, Alan||Brandon-Bravo, Martin|
|Arbuthnot, James||Brazier, Julian|
|Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)||Bright, Graham|
|Ashby, David||Brittan, Rt Hon Leon|
|Atkins, Robert||Brooke, Rt Hon Peter|
|Atkinson, David||Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)|
|Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)||Browne, John (Winchester)|
|Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)||Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)|
|Baldry, Tony||Buck, Sir Antony|
|Batiste, Spencer||Burns, Simon|
|Bendall, Vivian||Burt, Alistair|
|Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Butcher, John|
|Benyon, W.||Butler, Chris|
|Bevan, David Gilroy||Butterfill, John|
|Blackburn, Dr John G.||Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)|
|Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter||Carlile, Alex (Mont'g)|
|Bonsor, Sir Nicholas||Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)|
|Boswell, Tim||Carrington, Matthew|
|Bottomley, Peter||Cash, William|
|Bottomley, Mrs Virginia||Channon, Rt Hon Paul|
|Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n)||Chapman, Sydney|
|Chope, Christopher||Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)|
|Churchill, Mr||Hunter, Andrew|
|Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)||Irvine, Michael|
|Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)||Jack, Michael|
|Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)||Jackson, Robert|
|Coombs, Simon (Swindon)||Jessel, Toby|
|Cope, Rt Hon John||Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey|
|Couchman, James||Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)|
|Cran, James||Jones, Robert B (Herts W)|
|Currie, Mrs Edwina||Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine|
|Curry, David||Key, Robert|
|Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)||King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)|
|Davis, David (Boothferry)||Kirkhope, Timothy|
|Day, Stephen||Knapman, Roger|
|Devlin, Tim||Knight, Greg (Derby North)|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James||Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)|
|Dunn, Bob||Knowles, Michael|
|Durant, Tony||Knox, David|
|Dykes, Hugh||Lamont, Rt Hon Norman|
|Eggar, Tim||Lang, Ian|
|Emery, Sir Peter||Latham, Michael|
|Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)||Lawrence, Ivan|
|Evennett, David||Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel|
|Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)||Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)|
|Fallon, Michael||Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark|
|Favell, Tony||Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)|
|Fearn, Ronald||Lightbown, David|
|Fenner, Dame Peggy||Livsey, Richard|
|Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)||Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)|
|Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey||Lord, Michael|
|Fookes, Miss Janet||Luce, Rt Hon Richard|
|Forman, Nigel||Lyell, Sir Nicholas|
|Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)||McCrindle, Robert|
|Forth, Eric||Macfarlane, Sir Neil|
|Fox, Sir Marcus||MacGregor, Rt Hon John|
|Franks, Cecil||MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)|
|Freeman, Roger||Maclean, David|
|French, Douglas||McLoughlin, Patrick|
|Gale, Roger||McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael|
|Gardiner, George||McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)|
|Gill, Christopher||Madel, David|
|Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian||Major, Rt Hon John|
|Glyn, Dr Alan||Malins, Humfrey|
|Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles||Mans, Keith|
|Gorst, John||Maples, John|
|Gow, Ian||Marland, Paul|
|Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)||Marshall, John (Hendon S)|
|Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)||Martin, David (Portsmouth S)|
|Greenway, John (Ryedale)||Mates, Michael|
|Gregory, Conal||Maude, Hon Francis|
|Grist, Ian||Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin|
|Ground, Patrick||Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick|
|Grylls, Michael||Mellor, David|
|Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)||Miller, Sir Hal|
|Hanley, Jeremy||Mills, Iain|
|Hannam, John||Miscampbell, Norman|
|Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'II Gr')||Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)|
|Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)||Mitchell, David (Hants NW)|
|Harris, David||Montgomery, Sir Fergus|
|Haselhurst, Alan||Morrison, Sir Charles|
|Hawkins, Christopher||Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester)|
|Hayes, Jerry||Moss, Malcolm|
|Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney||Moynihan, Hon Colin|
|Hayward, Robert||Mudd, David|
|Heathcoat-Amory, David||Neale, Gerrard|
|Heddle, John||Needham, Richard|
|Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L||Nelson, Anthony|
|Hill, James||Neubert, Michael|
|Hind, Kenneth||Newton, Rt Hon Tony|
|Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)||Nicholls, Patrick|
|Holt, Richard||Nicholson, David (Taunton)|
|Hordern, Sir Peter||Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)|
|Howard, Michael||Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley|
|Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)||Oppenheim, Phillip|
|Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)||Page, Richard|
|Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey||Paice, James|
|Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)||Patnick, Irvine|
|Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)||Patten, Chris (Bath)|
|Hunt, David (Wirral W)||Patten, John (Oxford W)|
|Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey||Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)|
|Pawsey, James||Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)|
|Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth||Stradling Thomas, Sir John|
|Porter, David (Waveney)||Sumberg, David|
|Powell, William (Corby)||Summerson, Hugo|
|Price, Sir David||Tapsell, Sir Peter|
|Raffan, Keith||Taylor, Ian (Esher)|
|Raison, Rt Hon Timothy||Taylor, John M (Solihull)|
|Rathbone, Tim||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Renton, Tim||Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)|
|Rhodes James, Robert||Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)|
|Riddick, Graham||Thorne, Neil|
|Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas||Thornton, Malcolm|
|Ridsdale, Sir Julian||Thurnham, Peter|
|Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm||Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)|
|Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)||Tredinnick, David|
|Roe, Mrs Marion||Trippier, David|
|Rossi, Sir Hugh||Trotter, Neville|
|Rost, Peter||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Rowe, Andrew||Viggers, Peter|
|Rumbold, Mrs Angela||Waddington, Rt Hon David|
|Ryder, Richard||Wakeham, Rt Hon John|
|Sackville, Hon Tom||Waldegrave, Hon William|
|Sainsbury, Hon Tim||Walden, George|
|Salmond, Alex||Waller, Gary|
|Sayeed, Jonathan||Ward, John|
|Shaw, David (Dover)||Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)|
|Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)||Wells, Bowen|
|Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')||Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)|
|Shelton, William (Streatham)||Wheeler, John|
|Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)||Whitney, Ray|
|Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)||Widdecombe, Ann|
|Shersby, Michael||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Sims, Roger||Wigley, Dafydd|
|Skeet, Sir Trevor||Wilkinson, John|
|Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)||Wilshire, David|
|Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)||Wolfson, Mark|
|Speed, Keith||Wood, Timothy|
|Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)||Woodcock, Mike|
|Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)||Yeo, Tim|
|Squire, Robin||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Stanley, Rt Hon John||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Stern, Michael||Mr. Tristan Garel-Jones and Mr. Robert Boscawen.|
|Allen, Graham||Lamond, James|
|Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)||Leighton, Ron|
|Benn, Rt Hon Tony||Loyden, Eddie|
|Bermingham, Gerald||McAvoy, Thomas|
|Biffen, Rt Hon John||McFall, John|
|Body, Sir Richard||McWilliam, John|
|Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith)||Madden, Max|
|Buckley. George J.||Mahon, Mrs Alice|
|Campbell-Savours, D. N.||Millan, Rt Hon Bruce|
|Canavan, Dennis||Moonie, Dr Lewis|
|Clay, Bob||Parry, Robert|
|Cohen, Harry||Patchett, Terry|
|Corbyn, Jeremy||Primarolo, Dawn|
|Dalyell, Tam||Rogers, Allan|
|Eadie, Alexander||Rowlands, Ted|
|Evans, John (St Helens N)||Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)|
|Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)||Skinner, Dennis|
|Flannery, Martin||Spearing, Nigel|
|Galloway, George||Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)|
|Garrett, John (Norwich South)||Williams, Alan W. (Carm'thon)|
|Gordon, Mildred||Wilson, Brian|
|Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)||Winnick, David|
|Grocott, Bruce||Wise, Mrs Audrey|
|Heffer, Eric S.|
|Hinchliffe, David||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Hughes, Roy (Newport E)||Mr. Bob Cryer and Mr. Martin Redmond|