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Mr. Breed: Does the hon. Lady agree that it is not only important that the Treasury provides the money to make up any shortfall, but that the control and direction of the spend of that money lie in the region concerned?

Nia Griffith: Indeed. It is extremely important that there is a firm partnership between UK-level, EU-level and regional-level auditing.

That brings me, lastly, to the good message that we will bring home. What have we done? We instigated the proposals, put the UK rebate on the table and paved the way for CAP reform. We proposed a reduction in our rebate that reflects not only our prosperity but our determination to make real progress on EU budget reform. That reduction, however, has been linked to an overall reduction in the EU budget.

I therefore welcome this realistic document, and I very much hope that, later this week, my right hon. Friends, through this document, will make substantial progress towards setting the EU on the path to genuine budgetary reform.

6.28 pm

Mr. Graham Brady (Altrincham and Sale, West) (Con): As ever, we have had an interesting and wide-ranging debate. I am pleased to follow the hon. Member for Llanelli (Nia Griffith), not least because she managed to squeeze so much into three minutes, and I am sure that there would have been much more had she had more time. Llanelli, of course, has produced many great parliamentarians, not least my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Howard).

Earlier, we heard from the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Fife (Sir Menzies Campbell), who endorsed our position that the rebate should only be negotiated in return for CAP reform. He raised the prospect of reform of the CAP to return its funding streams to national Governments. That view was later endorsed by the hon. Member for Luton, North (Kelvin Hopkins), whose contributions to these debates the Opposition very much value, although we do not always agree with everything that he says. I know that he is reassured by that.

The hon. Member for Leicester, East (Keith Vaz), a former Minister for Europe, spoke about the Foreign Secretary's panache and charm and about having voted for him in The House Magazine awards. We were privileged to hear what might well be his last intervention from the Back Benches. He is clearly working very hard to return to his earlier brief, although he is currently looking after the Westminster kids' club party, where I would have been were I not in the Chamber, as one of the co-hosts.

The Foreign Secretary advised Members to back a horse rather than putting money on his chances of success in the budget negotiations. Some Members may find that a bit rich, given the Foreign Secretary's own readiness to gamble £6 billion of British taxpayers' money this week in the European Council.
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My hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Mr. Cash) said that enlargement would inevitably lead to a looser, freer European Union. My hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Bone) spoke passionately on behalf of his constituents, particularly the younger ones—notably one Thomas Bone. He put the case for much wider free trade, bringing in countries outside the EU. We strongly endorse that.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Wells (Mr. Heathcoat-Amory) rightly reminded us that for 11 years the European Court of Auditors has refused to sign off the EU's accounts. My hon. Friend the Member for South-West Hertfordshire (Mr. Gauke) spoke of the way in which the EU is extending its influence and powers even without the constitution that was rejected earlier in the year. My hon. Friend the Member for North Dorset (Mr. Walter) expressed concern about the failure of the British presidency to make itself accountable to the Assembly of the Western European Union, not once but twice. He also issued a plea for the small but necessary funding in that regard. I am sure that the Minister will sign a cheque as soon as he leaves the Chamber.

The hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Hendrick) produced the astonishing revelation that he still believes that Britain will join the eurozone. We hoped that he would go on to tell us what he expected Father Christmas to bring him shortly, but sadly he left us in suspense.

Opening the debate, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Hague) was the living embodiment of the new politics. [Hon. Members: "Where is he?"] He will be back shortly. The winding-up speeches began slightly earlier than expected.

My right hon. Friend warmly congratulated the Foreign Secretary on the opening of Turkish accession talks, and I am delighted to echo his tribute. [Hon. Members: "Here he is!"] As ever, my right hon. Friend is on time. It is just that we started a little early.

Not only will Turkey's eventual EU membership bring benefits; the process of reform and development that will precede it is important, and the Minister and the Foreign Secretary can be proud of their role in that process. I suspect that they will also be relieved—relieved that, whatever may happen over the next few days, there will be at least something to show for the six months of the British presidency. It is all too clear that, to date, no one in the European Union is terribly impressed by anything else that they have done.

There is too much relevant material for me to quote from all of it, but I shall cite one or two of the comments that have been made. The French Minister for European Affairs recently said:

The Belgian Foreign Minister was quoted by diplomats as saying:

The Portuguese Foreign Minister said:

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One Brussels civil servant is quoted as saying:

Mr. Marco Incerti, an EU expert at the Centre for European Policy Studies, said:

That was reported in The Times on 22 September.

The last comment, from Mr. Incerti, hits home hardest. As was pointed out by my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond, Yorks, our EU partners have learnt something about the Prime Minister and his Government over the past six months—something that it has taken the British people much longer, with far more pain, to discover. They have seen the dramatic difference between the fine words and high aspirations in the Prime Minister's speeches and his dismal record of underachievement, lack of delivery and lack of direction.

It all started so well. On 23 June, the Prime Minister told the European Parliament:

That wake-up call came in June with the referendums in France and the Netherlands. But six months on, the British Government show every sign of having overslept. Instead of replacing the crisis of political leadership with a real vision and a new direction—a move towards a more flexible European Union—we have had six months of business as usual. We have had the same old arguments, the same resort to horse-trading and the quest for a deal that makes everyone equally unhappy.

In recent weeks, we saw the undignified spectacle of the Prime Minister engaged in what Bronwyn Maddox of The Times described as a

to find a friend somewhere in eastern Europe. We should note the danger of agreeing to what the right hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. MacShane)—sadly, he is not with us today—described to The Daily Telegraph as

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