European Union: Budget

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:55 pm on 14th June 2005.

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Photo of Lord McKenzie of Luton Lord McKenzie of Luton Government Whip 2:55 pm, 14th June 2005

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for his supplementary question. I am sorry if the answers are too long; I shall try to get them to match the length of the questions in future.

I agree with my noble friend that it would be fine if we could settle the issue this month, but it is important that we get the right answer rather than get it quickly. On what has been achieved, the parameters of the 2006 budget are already largely in place and it is much easier to make progress on that than on the financial perspective for the next seven years.

In many ways, the discussion about rebate is a distraction. The key issue is the expenditure side of the equation. The continuing inefficiencies and inequities on the expenditure side of the budget and the resulting unfairness of the United Kingdom position mean that the abatement remains fully justified and is not up for negotiation. If there is a fundamental review and debate about the future of Europe, including the financing of the European Union, everything will be up for discussion.