European Affairs

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 5:17 pm on 3rd June 2010.

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Photo of Chris Heaton-Harris Chris Heaton-Harris Conservative, Daventry 5:17 pm, 3rd June 2010

There are many other examples, from debates held over the years in all institutions in Europe-and from debates that I have read in this House-of wonderful ideas on what we could do with the buildings of Strasbourg or Brussels. The fact is that we are talking about a huge, expensive white elephant that the people of Britain think is yet another waste of taxpayers' money.

I know that this will not make my hon. Friend the Minister particularly popular when he is in negotiations on the other side of the channel, but I just ask him to mention, every now and again when the French delegation gets a bit excited about reformulation of the common agricultural policy or something else-the French get excited about all sorts of things-that we have been very generous in allowing them to maintain the seat of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, because it is unpalatable to most of our electorates.

I wish my hon. Friend the greatest of luck in his new role. There are great difficulties across the continent at the moment. There is the crisis of the huge debt that many countries have, and the incongruous way in which that debt may have to be serviced by other members of the eurozone-I like to think that it would not be serviced by British taxpayers. There are other pressures, too. John Mann made the point that we cannot have British jobs for British workers, and talked about the pressures that future accessions might bring. I know from my time in the European Parliament, and from going round schools in what was my region and is now my constituency, how deeply unpopular among the British people the possible accession of Turkey could be. If we press forward with it, we will have a great deal of work to do in explaining to our electorate that it is the right thing for Britain and British workers.

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