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Education About Electoral and Democratic Systems

Part of Orders of the Day — Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Bill – in the House of Commons at 10:45 pm on 14th February 2000.

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Photo of George Young George Young Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, Shadow Secretary of State 10:45 pm, 14th February 2000

I am enormously grateful to the Minister for indicating a degree of flexibility on the amendments. In the interests of making progress, I will not press the case on clause 11(1)(b) as much as I was going to, but I want to say something about clause 11(1)(c), which is about the European Union.

The Committee may not be familiar with the Commission's preliminary draft budget for 2000. Nor until last week was I, but the Commission is to spend 45 million euros on general information and communication work concerning the European Union; that is less than half the budget of 103 million euros on information and communication. If one looks at the budget, one will see exactly how it is done. I quote from the European Commission budget document: these measures are designed to be an effective channel of communication and dialogue between the people of the European Union and the Community Institutions. They take account of specific national and regional characteristics, in close co-operation with the Member State authorities. The point is simple: if through our taxes we were already paying for the European Commission to do that promotional job, why should it be duplicated through the work of the commission?