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Elected Authorities (Northern Ireland) Bill [Money] Queen's Recommendation having been signified--

Motion made, and Question proposed.

That for the purposes of any Act resulting from the Elected Authorities (Northern Ireland) Bill, it is expedient to authorise (1) the payment out of money provided by Parliament of

(a) any increase attributable to the provisions of the Act in the sums so payable under any other enactment ; and

(b) any expenses incurred under section 14A(4) or 14B of the Electoral Law Act (Northern Ireland) 1962 ; and

(2) the payment into the Consolidated Fund of any increase attributable to the provisions of the Act in the sums so payable under any other enactment. -- [Mr. Maclean.]

10.26 pm

Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South) : We should not let money resolutions go through on the nod. In the case of this one, we have not yet received an explanation.

Mr. Brian Sedgemore (Hackney, South and Shoreditch) : The Prime Minister is leaving.

Mr. Cryer : I can understand why the Prime Minister is departing. She is going to get hold of an egg as fast as she can to prove that a junior Minister is wrong yet again. However, at the moment we want to discuss this money resolution because, in the absence of any explanation, it would be worthwhile to speculate on the consequences of the legislation. [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker : Order. Would hon. Members who are not staying to debate the money resolution kindly leave quietly?

Mr. Cryer : The money resolution provides for money to be payable as a consequence of the legislation. Therefore, we have to take a look at the legislation in general terms to see whether any increase in expenditure is likely.

For a start, there are under schedule 2 what I imagine to be trivial amounts relating to the printing and arrangements for the declaration against terrorism by potential candidates. I would not raise the matter if it were not for the consequences of that, which are shown in clause 6. It says :

"A person who has made a declaration required for the purposes of section 3, 4 or 5 of this Act acts in breach of the terms of the declaration if--

(a) he expresses support for or approval of--

(i) the activities of a proscribed organisation,".

That is fairly straightforward, but it continues by referring to "acts of terrorism". There is a definition :

"(that is to say, violence for political ends) connected with the affairs of Northern Ireland".

That is a very wide definition. I wonder whether the Minister had assessed the consequences of such a vast, unfettered definition. For example, vendettas may be played out. People may go to the High Court with allegations about people breaching the declaration. They might claim that people supported acts of terrorism--violence for political ends--if, in Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, they supported the police using violence against the miners. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that someone would argue that.

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As I argued earlier, if people support the retention and development of nuclear weapons by the Conservative Government, that may be construed as an act of terrorism, that is, violence for political ends. That is precisely the definition, because the Government tell us that our nuclear weapons are deployed to save us from Communism. That political aim is entirely within the definition given in the Bill.

If people raise such issues, if councillors or public representatives make such statements, many people can trip off to the High Court to get a ruling that various public representatives have breached the declaration. To obtain the evidence, people will have to be present at the meetings. Will the police be asked to attend the meetings, either in uniform or plain clothes, to act as informers on what is said in a public meeting, as suitably defined?

What about giving evidence? Presumably public officials will have to attend the High Court to give evidence on the validity or otherwise of the claims that declarations have been breached. All in all, it is clearly an area of great dissension in a section of the United Kingdom that is split by dissension anyway. There are factions using every possible means against each other, and this legislation will give them the opportunity to extend that practice.

Therefore, it is inevitable that there will be an increase in the charges on public expenditure. The Minister may say that my fears will not be realised and that there will not be any significant increase in public expenditure. Indeed, that is the suggestion in the Bill. The explanatory and financial memorandum states :

"The Bill is not expected to result in any significant addition to public sector expenditure."

Will the Minister explain what that means? If someone goes to the DHSS and receives an extra £5 by illegal means, the Department does not ignore that and say that that is not a significant increase in expenditure ; it prosecutes. It is important that the House knows what the Minister has in mind by the use of the word "significant". What is the definition? Is it £5,000, £10,000, £100,000 or £500,000? The Under- Secretary of State for the Home Department has just come into the Chamber, most providentially. He knows how these debates start through our asking a Minister for an explanation, to which we are entitled. We discovered during the debate that the Minister asked for certain rights in the Bill which he could not finance. I do not want the Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to be placed in the same position. The Government have been embarrassed by junior Ministers over the past few days. I do not want other junior Ministers to cause the Government yet further embarrassment--and I can see a Government Whip nodding sagely at my comments about the Under- Secretary of State for Health. Perhaps he anticipates a promotion opportunity. I suspect that in two or three months' time that opportunity may arise.

I am trying to encourage the Minister from the Northern Ireland Office to give the House an adequate explanation on these matters. As he knows, during a debate on a Bill there is never an explanation of the financial background. This debate presents the House with an opportunity that should not be missed for the Minister to give us the financial details, and I am sure that he is eager to do that.

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10.34 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Richard Needham) : I am always eager to assist the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) in any way that I can. We all enjoyed his presence during the debate. Had he been here, he would have heard some of the questions on money being debated extensively and carefully.

As the hon. Gentleman is aware, litigation is expensive. During today's debate many hon. Members made the point that litigation is so expensive that they were not sure that applicants would be able to afford the costs of bringing such actions. While legal aid will be available against the usual criteria, those criteria will include a test of merit in the courts, so ill-founded cases will not attract legal aid. Secondly, the courts have an inherent jurisdiction to dismiss cases that are frivolous or vexatious or otherwise an abuse of the process of the court. In those circumstances, I am sure that the courts will have no hesitation in exercising that jurisdiction, so I do not believe that there will be a large amount of frivolous, vexatious or costly litigation.

As the hon. Member for Bradford, South so perceptively realises, there is a possible cost if applicants apply for legal aid. Those extra costs of any such actions cannot be calculated with any precision, but the Northern Ireland court service which supports the legal aid fund administered by the Law Society has sought provision of about £100,000 for the forthcoming financial year on a contingency basis. That, plus a very few minor expenses, is the only financial consequence of the Bill.

10.36 pm

Mr. Harry Barnes (Derbyshire, North-East) : No price is too high for the extension of democracy. The people of Chile and, in Britain, the Chartists and the suffragettes realised that. Many of them paid with their lives for the extension of democracy. A money resolution for the extension of democracy would therefore have our whole-hearted support, but the Bill is concerned with manipulating and fixing democratic arrangements. Even if that could be justified, we should not be spending a great deal of money on it. At least we should manipulate on the cheap instead of paying extensive amounts of money for it.

What is needed to extend democracy in Northern Ireland is not the measure before us, but more rather than less democracy. There should be a Bill of Rights, which would be expensive because of the cases that would be brought in connection with it and the cases that would be used to overturn much of the Government's legislation. There should be a devolved assembly, which would also be expensive because of the massive problems that it would have to handle.

Furthermore, Northern Ireland needs economic advance more than anything else. On Second Reading, the Minister claimed that that was taking place, but I disagree with him fundamentally. The rosy picture that he painted does not exist in Northern Ireland. However, we should concern ourselves now with money and its connection with the democratic process. We have been discussing a genuine democratic dilemma. There has not been sufficient consideration by either side of the House--and certainly not by the Government--of the dilemma and the different factors that need to be considered in connection with it.

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The problem with democracy is how far it can tolerate the intolerant. There is no doubt that Sinn Fein and other paramilitary groups operate in an intolerant fashion. Usually, democrats err on the side of tolerance to the intolerant. Those who have the best arguments and democratic principles should win in the democratic market place, but undoubtedly there are exceptions in Northern Ireland. The circumstances in Northern Ireland are almost such that we should not tolerate the intolerant, but are hon. Members in a position to decide? Are the Government in a position to tell Northern Ireland that they will no longer tolerate the intolerant? We should apply very high standards of democracy when considering the Bill, but the Government are not doing so. By their bans, proscription and impediments on trade union activities and other action, they are attacking civil liberties, undertaking a fantastic amount of centralisation and manipulating the franchise with the poll tax. The Bill must be considered against that background. A Government operating in such a way cannot ask Parliament to be intolerant of those who are intolerant.

On Second Reading, mention was made of a declaration that must be signed. It was said that if Sinn Fein and other paramilitary organisations failed to sign it they would be banned. They would obviously take a pragmatic view of that. This is relevant to the money resolution because massive expense will be incurred in taking cases to court. Sinn Fein and other paramilitary groups will sign the declaration when they believe it is to their advantage to do so and then face the problems of being debarred and the civil actions when they arise. On some occasions, they will refuse to sign and will gain much political advantage from doing so.

Only people who act morally will be faced with the problem of whether to sign the declaration. They are worried about oaths and declarations and their civil liberties being attacked. They will refuse to sign the declaration, which is supposed to extend and develop democratic processes.

Clause 9 provides that people should be debarred from membership of local councils for five years in addition to facing any other action that may be taken. If people are debarred from local government, like the Clay Cross councillors, they have to pay a surcharge and serve their five-year disqualification after their bankruptcy has been discharged. Are we saying that the sentences imposed by the courts will not work and that people should serve a further five years disqualification, with all the various financial considerations that flow from that?

The Bill defines terrorism, but "terrorism" is a purely evaluative term. Sinn Fein and Protestant paramilitaries are terrorists and I condemn them. Others call them "freedom fighters" and praise them. We should not pass laws that include the term "terrorism". That commits us to saying not only that certain actions are contrary to the law but that those actions lead to our criticism of them. The law should be empirical and factual. In our debates we should use evaluative arguments either for or against those actions. On those grounds, I oppose the money resolution.

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10.45 pm

Mr. Brian Sedgemore (Hackney, South and Shoreditch) : I wonder whether the Minister can clear up a technical point. It is probably a silly technical point, but the English legal system has been known to be very silly and, no doubt, will be very silly in the future. I have looked at schedule 2 as a lawyer. It states :

" Declaration against terrorism Part I Form for inclusion in consent to nomination-- I declare that, if elected, I will not by word or deed express support for or approval of--

(a) any organisation that is for the time being a proscribed organisation specified in Schedule 2 to the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978 ; or

(b) acts of terrorism (that is to say, violence for political ends) connected with the affairs of Northern Ireland.

Part II Form for use in case of district councillor chosen to fill casual vacancy-- I, (name in full), of (home address in full) declare that, if I am chosen to be a councillor for the District of (name of district), I will not by word or deed express support for or approval of--

(a) any organisation that is for the time being a proscribed organisation specified in Schedule 2 to the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978 ; or

(b) acts of terrorism (that is to say, violence for political ends) connected with the affairs of Northern Ireland."

How is "deed" defined? What are the implications for the expenditure of public funds?

A person may say that X has done a deed which expresses support for an

"organisation that is for the time being a proscribed organisation specified in Schedule 2 to the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978"

or that X supports

"acts of terrorism (that is to say, violence for political ends) connected with the affairs of Northern Ireland".

He may say, "My evidence that he has committed that deed is that he is a member of Sinn Fein." The court can, with no other evidence, deduce from the fact that X is a member of Sinn Fein that he supports an organisation that is proscribed as specified in schedule 2 or that he supports acts of terrorism. Does the deed require some act other than that X is a member of a political party of which we are all aware and about whose political views on terrorism the Government make certain claims? Have we predetermined that a whole class belonging to a whole political party has committed the deed which renders something a crime under an Act of Parliament? If we have done that and no other deed is involved, that would be a startling development by the Government which has not been dealt with during the debate.

10.48 pm

Mr. Needham : If the hon. Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch (Mr. Sedgemore) had been here during the debate on the Bill, he would have heard that point discussed at length. It has nothing to do with the money resolution.

Question put and agreed to.


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That for the purposes of any Act resulting from the Elected Authorities (Northern Ireland) Bill, it is expedient to authorise-- (1) the payment out of money provided by Parliament of

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((a) any increase attributable to the provisions of the Act in the sums so payable under any other enactment ; and

(b) any expenses incurred under section 14A(4) or 14B of the Electoral Law Act (Northern Ireland) 1962 ; and

(2) the payment into the Consolidated Fund of any increase attributable to the provisions of the Act in the sums so payable under any other enactment.

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European Community (Budget)

10.49 pm

The Paymaster General (Mr. Peter Brooke) : I beg to move, That this House takes note of European Community Documents Nos. 7271/88 and 7758/88 on the preliminary Draft Budget for 1989, 7908/88 on the Draft Budget for 1989, 8996/88 on Letter of Amendment No. 1 to the preliminary Draft Budget for 1989 and 9286/88 on the European Parliament's proposed Amendments and modifications to the Draft Budget for 1989.

The 1989 Community budget is the first to be subject to the new arrangements for budgetary discipline which have been put in place since the February European Council. This debate gives us a useful opportunity to consider how those arrangements are working. Three aspects of the new arrangements are particularly relevant to the documents before us today : the ceilings on the growth of the Community's own resources ; the control of agricultural and other expenditure ; and improved budget management.

First, let me deal with own resources. Under the new own resources decision, which the United Kingdom has now formally ratified, annual sub- ceilings have been imposed for the first time on the overall level of the Community's resources. The ceiling for 1989 is 1.17 per cent. of Community gross national product. The sub-ceilings set an absolute upper limit on the growth of the Community's total expenditure, year by year.

As regards control of agricultural expenditure, the situation has been transformed over the last 12 months. In the context of today's debate, I draw particular attention to the financial guideline and to the new provisions for stock depreciation. The guideline limit relating to expenditure on agricultural market support is legally binding. The limit will grow each year at no more than 74 per cent. of the rate of growth of Community GNP, which is likely to mean a real increase of around 2 per cent. a year, compared with 10 per cent. a year between 1984 and 1987. Happily, expenditure in both 1988 and 1989 is set to grow even more slowly than this. I shall come back to this point later on. As regards stocks, provision has been made to ensure systematic depreciation in the year of purchase, and special funds have been earmarked to pay for the disposal of existing stocks. This should ensure that the overhanging expenditure commitments on intervention stocks are eliminated by 1992 at the latest. The second aspect of the new budget discipline arrangements which I want to touch on is the inter-institutional agreement. Under this, the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission have bound themselves to respect a procedural and financial framework designed to implement the budgetary conclusions of the Brussels European Council. An integral part of the IIA is a financial perspective which establishes ceilings for each of the main categories of Community expenditure between 1988 and 1992.

The Council has undertaken to apply the IIA in accordance with paragraph 14 of the Brussels conclusions. This paragraph introduced a jargon-ridden but operationally important distinction between so-called "privileged" and "non -privileged" non-obligatory expenditure. Privileged expenditure includes the structural funds, the research and development framework programme and the integrated Mediterranean programmes. The growth of this

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category of expenditure between 1988 and 1992 has been pre-ordained by decisions taken at, or before, the Brussels Council. However, for the remainder of DNO--the non-privileged element--the Council has agreed to respect the maximum rate of increase calculated by the Commission at the start of each year's budget procedure within the framework of article 203(9) of the treaty. The calculated maximum rate for the 1989 budget is 5.8 per cent.

The final aspect of the new arrangements to which I should refer is improved budget management, including, in particular, the new regime to reinforce annuality, which is designed to make the carry-forward of appropriations from one year to the next the exception rather than the rule.

I apologise if the next section of my speech is something of a ball-by-ball commentary on the 1989 budget procedure, but I am sure the House would expect me to say something about each of the documents referred to in the motion.

Mr. Teddy Taylor (Southend, East) : The Minister has referred to those exciting new provisions which will prevent overspending in the future and has made several recommendations. Does he recall that, when almost identical assurances were given in 1984, the EEC got round all those restrictions by calling for extra expenditure in advance, thus ensuring that we had a year which was basically one of 10 months? Will he give us a cast-iron assurance that advance payments will not be permitted as a means of getting round budgetary controls?

Mr. Brooke : My hon. Friend is vigilant and persistent in these matters. I would be hesitant to give him cast-iron assurances on anything and he would be the first to acknowledge that I would be rash to do so, given the history. However, the principles of annuality that we have built into the arrangements, in terms of the new regulations, should provide a better defence than we have historically had. My hon. Friend knows that the arrangements to which he refers were addressed to a particular problem, but did not lead to excess expenditure in the budget in question.

The commentary begins with the preliminary draft budget--PDB--which the Commission presented in June and which is dealt with in documents Nos. 7271/88 and 7758/88. There were two especially noteworthy aspects of the PDB. First, it included provision of almost 3.25 billion ecu for the depreciation of agricultural stocks, including 1.4 billion ecu in respect of existing stocks. Secondly, the PDB proposed an increase in DNO as a whole of around 20 per cent. in terms of commitment appropriations. Much of that, of course, was for the preordained expansion of the structural funds to which I referred earlier. The figure for non-privilaged DNO alone was some 12 per cent., more than double the calculated maximum rate of 5.8 per cent. Overall, the PDB was about 450 million ecu within the ceiling in the financial perspective. The Commission noted, with some justification, that its proposals marked a start in the process of restoring a balance between agricultural and non-agricultural expenditure.

The Budget Council considered the PDB in July. The main issue was the level of non-privileged DNO. That was procedurally important, because of the rules laid down in paragraph 14 of the Brussels conclusions. The Council

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decided by a large majority to stick rigidly to the letter of the Brussels conclusions and to confine the growth of non- privileged DNO in the draft budget to half the calculated maximum rate-- that is, to 2.9 per cent. That involved cutting the Commission's proposals by 365 mecu in commitments and 356 mecu in payments.

At the July Council, I urged the Commission to keep the prospective level of agricultural expenditure in 1989 under close review, especially in the light of the American drought. I asked it to submit an amending letter to the 1989 budget, if necessary.

The amending letter was eventually tabled in October--document No. 8996/88. Its overall effect, compared with the PDB, was to reduce by almost 3.5 billion ecu the own resources which member states would have to contribute to the Community in 1989. That reduction, amounting to more than 7 per cent. of the PDB, is largely the product of two things--first, a cut of almost 1.4 billion ecu in the provision for agricultural market support in 1989 and, secondly, an expected revenue surplus of more than 2 billion ecu in respect of the 1988 Budget.

The reduction is largely fortuitous. Part of it reflects higher world prices caused by the American drought and a further part reflects higher than expected revenue from Customs duties, which in turn reflects faster than expected economic growth. It is extremely encouraging that a reduction in next year's agricultural appropriations has already been made. The principle has been established that surplus provision needs to be stripped out of the budget as soon as it is identified. No less encouraging is the fact that the amending letter provides for an increase of 50 mecu--to a total of more the 1,780 mecu--in the United Kingdom's Fontainebleau abatement for 1988. That is the first occasion on which the abatement has been increased during the course of the budget year to which it relates. Finally, on the amending letter, it is worth noting that the 1988 surplus stems, in part, from unused appropriations that have been cancelled as a result of the new budget management regime. The Parliament gave its first reading to the draft budget in October. It voted to take on board the reduced agricultural provision in the amending letter by means of a broadly corresponding modification to the draft budget. The details of that modification, and of the Parliament's other proposed changes, are given in document No. 9286/88. Most of the other changes were in respect of non- privileged DNO. In summary, the Parliament voted to restore most of the reductions in that type of expenditure that the Council had made in July. That was, however, no more than the Parliament was entitled to do under the treaty and it did not involve any breach of the ceilings for individual categories of expenditure in the IIA. I come now to the final overs of the ball-by-ball commentary, which were bowled, so to speak, at the second Budget Council on 22 November. The Council's task was somewhat complicated as it involved giving a First Reading to the amending letter at the same time as giving a Second Reading to the draft budget and considering the Parliament's amendments and modifications. Despite that, the revised draft budget that the Council established was coherent and disciplined.

Very briefly, the Council did two things. First, it agreed all the main elements of the amending letter. In the

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process, it rejected the Parliament's modification to agricultural provision, because it had become technically redundant. Secondly, the Council rejected around two thirds of the Parliament's amendments to non-privileged DNO, thereby bringing the growth of such expenditure back within the calculated maximum rate of 5.8 per cent. So, just as it did at its First Reading, the Council followed the letter of the procedure agreed in February.

Therefore, we have a draft budget for 1989 in which commitments are around 2.3 billion ecu below the overall ceiling in the financial perspective ; in which provision for agricultural market support is around 1.8 billion ecu below the guideline limit ; and in which the own resources call-up rate is 1.02 per cent. of GNP, compared with the annual sub-ceiling for 1989 of 1.17 per cent.

In line with the shuttlecock diplomacy which characterises the budget procedure, the action now shifts to Strasbourg, where the Parliament will have its Second Reading debate in the week beginning 12 December. The Parliament can be expected to amend the provision for DNO in the draft budget to some degree, but the amount which it can add within the relevant ceilings in the financial perspective is relatively small.

For its part, the Council has agreed the basis on which it will enter into a formal process of co-decision with the Parliament, under article 203(9) of the treaty, in order to agree the overall growth of DNO for the 1988 budget. That overall growth will substantially exceed the calculated maximum rate as an inevitable consequence of the increase in structural fund appropriations agreed at the Brussels Council.

It is gratifying to note that the new procedures and parameters that were put in place after the Brussels Council have had a benign and moderating influence on both the level of the 1989 budget and the atmosphere in which negotiations have been conducted thus far. The Council has respected in an exemplary way the Brussels conclusions on budgetary discipline.

11.1 pm

Mr. Stuart Holland (Vauxhall) : Opposition Members are grateful to the Paymaster General for taking us ball by ball, as he said, through the commentary. He did not actually say anything about how well we are playing in the matter of the EEC budget, other than on the rebate. There are certain issues arising from the budget which Opposition Members would like to address and a number of specific questions which we would like to put to him. For example, it is already very clear, as he has said, that one of the reasons why the budget is in better shape this year is the overall situation of the world food market, and especially the rise in food prices because of the drought in the United States.

There is an underlying issue on which we would like to know the Government's view and also what the Government have been doing in the preparation for the budget and what position they took. For example, granted that the Government, and not least the Prime Minister, are especially concerned about public expenditure, what is the Minister's view of the current meetings between the United States and the European Economic Community in negotiations in the framework of GATT for the reduction of food subsidies?

As has been recognised many times by hon. Members on both sides of the House, we still have a very high price

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food support system in the European Community. The fact that we now have stabilisers with only 74 per cent. growth of GNP being reflected in a diminished share--let us trust that it is indeed finally a diminished share--of agricultural spending and total spending none the less leaves us in a situation where, on average, about two thirds to three quarters of the total Community budget over the last decade has been allocated to agricultural subsidies.

What is the Minister's view on the fact that the OECD, for example, estimates that overall, on a global basis, about $220 billion or £118 billion, a year is being spent by developed countries in subsidising agriculture? What representations have Her Majesty's Government made in the framework of the GATT session, through the European Community or directly in response to the United States proposals as, for example, reported by Bailey Morris in today's edition of The Times, for a major reduction of protection in agricultural products? That is the sort of move for which the Government deserve the support from both sides, unlike the simple trimming of expenditure, which continues to swamp the Community budget.

I do not wish to detain the House at length on this, but it also relates to the availability of expenditure for the structural funds and especially the regional fund. The recent doubling of the regional fund looks dramatic, but as the regional fund amounts to a minor fraction of 1 per cent. of Community GDP and only about 10 per cent. of that results in net transfers between member states, other than the special category of the integrated Mediterranean programmes, we are not talking about a major shift from agricultural to regional spending.

In that respect, if Le Monde today was accurate in reporting the Prime Minister at the Rhodes summit as saying that the structural funds are already more than the Marshall plan, she should retract that. It is arrant nonsense. The Marshall plan was equivalent to a transfer of between 3 and 4 per cent. of United States' GDP to Europe each year for four years from 1948. The whole Community budget is not scheduled to exceed 1.4 per cent. of GDP. Therefore, the whole Community budget is only one third of the contribution made under the Marshall plan to Western Europe after the war and the structural funds are only a minor fraction of 1 per cent. of Community GDP. The Paymaster General may not be able to respond directly, but perhaps as the allegation that the structural funds amount to more than the Marshall plan is circulating in Whitehall, he is familiar with the statement and the Prime Minister intended to say that. If so, I hope that he will recognise that it is an unfounded and wholly misleading statement. It gives the impression that the structural and regional funds are far greater than they are.

Document 7908/88 budget 16 provides interesting figures on agricultural levies. Page 17 estimates revenue under the draft budget. Agricultural levies for the 1989 draft are estimated at 1.33 billion ecu--I shall not trouble with the succeeding range of decimal points--and sugar-isoglucose levies are estimated at 1.35 billion ecu. Granted that levies on sugar militate against the exports from some lesser developed countries, not least Caribbean countries, why do the Government tolerate that? Why are we not pushing for a reduction of those levies and allowing for a higher volume of imports of sugar from developing countries?

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We appreciate that not everyone is making super-normal profits from beet sugar in the Community and that many small and medium-sized farmers' average income may not be in excess of the average industrial wage in this country and may be considerably less than that of their own country. We are not saying that marginal farmers' incomes should be wiped out by no Community agricultural policy whatever, but sugar is a special case.

We should be glad to know whether in the preparation of the draft budget the Government have been fighting to ensure that there is a reduction of those levies.

If one puts the 1.33 million ecu from the agricultural levies or the 1.35 million ecu on sugar-isoglucose levies against page 76 of the same document, which refers to an absolutely parsimonious 2 million ecu in food aid, one sees that that is out line--despite the considerable degree of self-congratulation with which, with unaccustomed modesty, the Paymaster General entered into his exposition.

Some hon. Members might be prepared to say that food aid should not be a priority of the Community and that there should be food development programmes. Depending on the relative balance and scale of food aid programmes, one could well agree with hon. Members making such a point, were any on their feet to do so. However, I do not encourage them to rise to their feet, although it might at least interrupt the monologue from this Dispatch Box.

Expenditure on IFAD--the International Fund for Agricultural Development-- is precisely related to developing food production in the less-developed countries. If I recollect the figures, during the last major famine in Ethiopia, IFAD could gain a year's production of grain on a farm in the highlands of Ethiopia for something like a tenth of the cost of one week's drop of food aid to the area, so why on page 81 of the budget is there no commitment for 1989 whatsoever under IFAD? Why have those commitments not been made? The United Kingdom's contribution to IFAD is low. Why can we not get the Community to make that kind of commitment to IFAD, which would mean that, with its cost-effective programmes in agricultural development, it could assist the developing countries?

Again in the context of developing countries, page 73 contains a series of statements of co-operation with developing and non-member countries. Page 75 reiterates--Opposition Members are well aware of this--that the European development fund is not included in the budget. Therefore, chapters 90 and 91 on the European development fund and co-operation with the African, Caribbean and Pacific states and on co-operation with the overseas countries and territories associated with the Community have been deleted from the budget. Perhaps the Minister will give us his view on why that is the case. We appreciate that that has been the convention for some time, but why can the House not scrutinise those budgets within the framework of the overall budget of the Community? What, in practice and in terms of the specific allocations are the subtitles of the allocations in the Community budget, and why can those not be published in the budget? I refer, for example, to page 73, item 93, headed,

"Co-operation with Latin American and Asian developing countries".

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