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Mr. Cash: The Minister has just been praising the financial investigation team known as OLAF, but will he note that although 9,400 cases of fraud were
8 May 2006 : Column 137
reported in 2004 there has been not one successful conviction of any major wrongdoer, and that no funds have been recovered in the seven years of OLAF’s existence? Is that a success, in the Minister’s terms?

John Healey: The questions that the hon. Gentleman raises are questions for OLAF. Surely he would not contest that we need such a body at the heart of the European Union. We also need the independent internal audit unit that the Commissioner has set up.

The inter-institutional agreement and the own resources decisions are the final parts of what has been a long difficult negotiation on the financial perspective. As the first negotiation of a union of 25 member states, it was bound to be complex. It is, however, a unique opportunity to modernise the budget and set out a process that will lead to a budget more fit for purpose for the European Union of the 21st century.

In the first place, the agreement ensures budget discipline. Rejecting the Commission’s proposal for a budget of €1,025 billion, member states have instead agreed a budget of €864 billion, or 1.048 per cent. of EU gross national income. By 2013, the starting point for future negotiations, the budget will be about 1 per cent. of EU gross national income—its lowest level for 20 years.

The budget also allows for an historic shift in spending from the old member states of the Union to the new central and eastern European member states. It supports our long-argued UK commitment to EU enlargement. Over the coming years, the funds forthe new member states will increase from less than€30 billion to more than €170 billion—a sevenfold increase. These funds aid their economic development, and they will not only make them more prosperous and more stable, but bring significant benefits to the UK too. UK exports to the eight eastern European new member states totalled in 2004 £5.3 billion—up by around 230 per cent. over those of the previous decade. Access to these new and growing markets will benefit UK consumers and UK business.

The historic enlargement of the EU, combined with the intensifying global challenges on the economy, poverty, the environment and security, meant that the financing of the EU could no longer be viewed in the manner that it had been prior to 2004. As the Prime Minister said, as the EU’s strongest supporter of enlargement, it was fair and right that the UK contributed properly to the costs of enlargement.

We have consistently argued, however, and carried out the argument in the negotiations, that the UK abatement remains justified because of the inequalities and inefficiencies on the expenditure side of the budget. The December Council conclusions that were agreed say:

The UK abatement remains, the abatement mechanism remains unchanged and the deal in December means that the UK will continue to receive the abatement in full on all EU spending in the old member states and on agricultural spending in the new member states, but we will forgo the increase in the abatement resulting from the economic development spending in the new member states and therefore will no longer receive an
8 May 2006 : Column 138
abatement on spending that contributes to the growth and the prosperity of Europe’s poorest countries. As a result of those changes, the UK’s net contribution will, for the first time, be similar to that of France and that of Italy—member states that are comparable to the UK in size and prosperity.

Mr. Redwood: Will the Financial Secretary give way?

John Healey: I think that I have made my position clear to the right hon. Gentleman.

As a result of these changes, the total UK rebate will still be larger over the next financial perspective than the current one—an estimated €41 billion in 2004 prices between 2007 and 2013 compared with€36 billion in the current financial perspective.

Finally, there will be the review of the budget. The review was agreed as part of the December package and confirmed in the inter-institutional agreement. The review will be led by the Commission and will report in 2008-09. It will allow the Council then to assess the value of all areas of EU expenditure, including the common agricultural policy. This is a process through which we can move to further reform of the CAP and further reform of the European budget as a whole to put it on a more rational and logical basis, so that it can concentrate on the things that are essential to Europe’s future.

Throughout this process of negotiation, the UK’s objectives have been consistent. We wanted tight budgetary discipline; we wanted more spending on policy reform, especially more reform to the CAP and the structural funds; we wanted successful enlargement; and we also wanted to protect the UK’s financial position. We secured budget growth limited to 13 per cent., when the Commission had proposed 25 per cent. We secured an EU budget that will be less than 1 per cent. of gross national income by 2013—its lowest level for 20 years. We secured a massive uplift in social and cohesion fund allocations for the new member states, and secured more flexibility to ensure that those countries can effectively absorb the structural funds and improve their growth and productivity. We secured a doubling in research and development spending, and secured and retained the UK abatement, which will increase in value during the next financial perspective. We secured the political commitment of all member states and the Commission to a fundamental review of all aspects of expenditure and revenue.

This is good deal for Europe, and it is a good deal for the UK. I commend it to the House.

Question put:—

The House divided: Ayes 245, Noes 194.
Division No. 224]


Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Alexander, rh Mr. Douglas
Allen, Mr. Graham
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Balls, Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Begg, Miss Anne
Benn, rh Hilary
Benton, Mr. Joe
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta

Blunkett, rh Mr. David
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, rh Mr. Des
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Byrne, Mr. Liam
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Caton, Mr. Martin
Chapman, Ben
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Ms Katy
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clelland, Mr. David
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank
Cooper, Yvette
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, Mr. David
Creagh, Mary
Cruddas, Jon
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
David, Mr. Wayne
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Eagle, Angela
Efford, Clive
Engel, Natascha
Farrelly, Paul
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Fisher, Mark
Flello, Mr. Robert
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Mr. Roger
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hamilton, Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Mr. Tom
Havard, Mr. Dai
Healey, John
Henderson, Mr. Doug
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Irranca-Davies, Huw
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Lynne
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Kennedy, rh Jane
Khabra, Mr. Piara S.
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Knight, Jim
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Lammy, Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
MacDougall, Mr. John
MacShane, rh Mr. Denis
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall, Mr. David
Marshall-Andrews, Mr. Robert
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Chris
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McDonagh, Siobhain
McFall, rh Mr. John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGuire, Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael
Meale, Mr. Alan
Merron, Gillian
Milburn, rh Mr. Alan
Miliband, Edward
Moffat, Anne

Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Morden, Jessica
Morgan, Julie
Morley, Mr. Elliot
Mountford, Kali
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, Mr. Jim
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
Olner, Mr. Bill
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Purnell, James
Reed, Mr. Andy
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Roy, Mr. Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Christine
Salter, Martin
Seabeck, Alison
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Simpson, Alan
Singh, Mr. Marsha
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine
Smith, John
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Stringer, Graham
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Thornberry, Emily
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Ussher, Kitty
Vaz, Keith
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Ward, Claire
Wareing, Mr. Robert N.
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Winnick, Mr. David
Wood, Mike
Woodward, Mr. Shaun
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wyatt, Derek
Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Ian Cawsey and
Jonathan Shaw

Afriyie, Adam
Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Alexander, Danny
Amess, Mr. David
Arbuthnot, rh Mr. James
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Baldry, Tony
Barker, Gregory
Baron, Mr. John
Barrett, John
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Benyon, Mr. Richard
Bercow, John
Binley, Mr. Brian
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Bone, Mr. Peter
Bottomley, Peter
Brady, Mr. Graham
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Brokenshire, James
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Browning, Angela
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burrowes, Mr. David
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Burt, Lorely
Butterfill, Sir John
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Cash, Mr. William
Chope, Mr. Christopher
Clappison, Mr. James
Clark, Greg
Clifton-Brown, Mr. Geoffrey
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cox, Mr. Geoffrey
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Davies, David T.C. (Monmouth)
Davies, Philip
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dorrell, rh Mr. Stephen
Dorries, Mrs. Nadine
Duddridge, James
Duncan, Mr. Alan
Dunne, Mr. Philip

Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Evennett, Mr. David
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Farron, Tim
Field, Mr. Mark
Francois, Mr. Mark
Gale, Mr. Roger
Galloway, Mr. George
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gauke, Mr. David
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Gidley, Sandra
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Goldsworthy, Julia
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gove, Michael
Gray, Mr. James
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian
Greening, Justine
Greenway, Mr. John
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Hammond, Mr. Philip
Hammond, Stephen
Hands, Mr. Greg
Harper, Mr. Mark
Harris, Dr. Evan
Hayes, Mr. John
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Heath, Mr. David
Hemming, John
Hendry, Charles
Herbert, Nick
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holloway, Mr. Adam
Hopkins, Kelvin
Horam, Mr. John
Hosie, Stewart
Howarth, David
Howarth, Mr. Gerald
Hughes, Simon
Huhne, Chris
Hunt, Mr. Jeremy
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Johnson, Mr. Boris
Kawczynski, Daniel
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Lamb, Norman
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Lansley, Mr. Andrew
Laws, Mr. David
Leech, Mr. John
Leigh, Mr. Edward
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Lidington, Mr. David
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
MacNeil, Mr. Angus
Malins, Mr. Humfrey
Maples, Mr. John
Mates, rh Mr. Michael
McCrea, Dr. William
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Milton, Anne
Moore, Mr. Michael
Moss, Mr. Malcolm
Mulholland, Greg
Mundell, David
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Öpik, Lembit
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, Mr. James

Paterson, Mr. Owen
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Pickles, Mr. Eric
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Pritchard, Mark
Pugh, John
Randall, Mr. John
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Rennie, Willie
Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Angus
Robertson, Hugh
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Robinson, Mr. Peter
Rogerson, Mr. Dan
Rosindell, Andrew
Rowen, Paul
Ruffley, Mr. David
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Scott, Mr. Lee
Selous, Andrew
Shapps, Grant
Shepherd, Mr. Richard
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Mr. Keith
Smith, Sir Robert
Soames, Mr. Nicholas
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Mr. Richard
Steen, Mr. Anthony
Streeter, Mr. Gary
Stuart, Mr. Graham
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Swire, Mr. Hugo
Syms, Mr. Robert
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Vaizey, Mr. Edward
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Viggers, Peter
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Walker, Mr. Charles
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Webb, Steve
Weir, Mr. Mike
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, Mr. David
Williams, Hywel
Williams, Stephen
Wilshire, Mr. David
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Winterton, Ann
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Wright, Jeremy
Yeo, Mr. Tim
Young, rh Sir George
Tellers for the Noes:

Angela Watkinson and
Michael Fabricant
Question accordingly agreed to.
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8 May 2006 : Column 140

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8 May 2006 : Column 143

Press Regulation

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn. —[Mr. Heppell.]

10.43 pm

Mr. George Galloway (Bethnal Green and Bow) (Respect): This will not be a rant about the venality of the prevailing orthodoxy in the British media. Everyone is currently recalling the words of Enoch Powell, who said that all political careers end in failure. [Interruption.] Actually, mine is going quite well, judging by last Thursday’s election results. I advise Labour Members to pipe down on that particular subject; otherwise I shall talk to them about how we ripped apart the corrupt Labour administration in Tower Hamlets, defeating the leader, deputy leader, housing convenor, mayor, deputy mayor—I could go on, Mr. Speaker, but you would not allow me to do so.

I am thinking of another of Mr. Powell’s remarks, however: that a politician complaining about the press is like a ship’s captain complaining about the sea. In any case, I have my own access to the media, having worked for nearly nine years for Associated Newspapers and for the last 16 weeks as host of a radio talk show on Saturday and Sunday nights.

It is not the grim and unremitting orthodoxy of the press about which I am concerned this evening, but the slip over the cusp of criminality into which some newspapers have lapsed. As long ago as 5 June 1999, I raised in this House the issue of the agent provocateur behaviour of Mazher Mahmood, otherwise known as the fake sheikh. I warned then that Mr. Murdoch’s flagship reporter was not so much involved in unmasking wrongdoing as in dreaming up acts of wrongdoing and setting up individuals to commit them. I should have known that one day, he wouldtry this on me. The expensive though abstemious Dorchester dinner that he threw for me in March of this year was intended to entrap me in a foreign funding scam in advance of the local elections in which my party, Respect, as I have just had the opportunity to say, did rather well. When I rebuffed this crude attempt to suborn me, Mr. Murdoch’s finest tried to entice me down the poisonous path of anti-Semitism and holocaust denial.

Nearly as reprehensible were the arguments later adduced by counsel for Mahmood, paid for by Murdoch, in its vain attempt to prevent me from publishing pictures of the fake sheikh, which can now be found on the Respect coalition website and in other places. Its argument that this was an invasion of Mahmood’s privacy, and that pictures of him taken for one purpose should not be used for another—for publication in a national newspaper—would of course put The News of the World out of business. In the words of Justice Mitting, who heard the case:

The point is that Mahmood’s behaviour toward me and many others whom he did manage to deceive is not only reprehensible but surely illegal, as ProfessorRoy Greenslade has argued in several recent articles. I should be interested to hear the Government’s view on this, and to hear of any plans that they have to tackle this abuse of press freedom.

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