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Lord Morris moved Amendment No. 5:

After Clause 2, insert the following new clause:
(" . This Act shall not come into force until the final version of the Budget of the European Communities for 1995, as adopted by the European Parliament and the Budget Council, has been made available to Parliament.").

The noble Lord said: I rise to move the above modest amendment, despite the fact that it is tabled in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington. As Members of the Committee who heard discussions on previous amendments will be aware, there is every reason to have considerable concern for the welfare of the noble Lord's voice. In that spirit, I wish to assist him by moving the amendment.

Although the final version of the final budget of the European Community was adopted by the European Parliament on 15th December, according to the Library

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of the other place the text will not be available in this country until February. We thus have the astonishing position where Parliament—that is, the other place—is being asked to approve expenditure without knowing the details of its destination.

So far as I am aware, the own resources decision has not even been approved by the Dutch Parliament. Can my noble friend the Minister say how many countries have not yet given their approval to it; and, if not, why not? A summary is available of the final version including commitment appropriations of 80,892.87 million ecus and payment appropriations of 76.5 million ecus. That represents a 12 per cent. increase on the 1994 budget. However, it must be pointed out that that is for 15 nations and not 12.

Further, 400 million ecus will be given to help modernise the Portuguese textile industry. One would like to ask why? What about the Lancastrians? Moreover, 460 million ecus of aid have been allocated to the Mediterranean programme. That is not as much as was requested, but it has been described as,

    "a step in the right direction".

As to the latter payments, the question should first be asked why British taxpayers should have to pay for what is essentially a political programme to keep the French and Spanish happy in the face of the shift in the Community's centre of gravity north and east with the accession of Sweden, Finland and Austria and the expected entry of eastern Europe.

Secondly, it should be asked whether the Government feel that taxpayers' money will be well spent on Colonel Gaddafi and President Assad. Although there has been an aid programme to North Africa since the early 1970s, the new programme goes far beyond that, and furthermore takes on new countries such as Libya.

The first instalment of 460 million ecus will undoubtedly escalate to the 4.3 billion requested by the Commission—with, of course, French and Spanish prompting. It seems absurd to pay such sums when we are still unsure where the money to the "poor four" goes. That is just another illustration of the ancient principle that there should be no taxation without representation. I believe that this modest little amendment would go a good way in the right direction towards helping to solve the problem. I beg to move.

7.15 p.m.

Lord Bruce of Donington: I should like to express my support for the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Morris. I am sure that Members of the Committee will agree that it is unfortunate that the draft budget as established by the Council for the year 1995 has not been available to Parliament. Indeed, it is only in a few months' time that the preliminary draft budget for 1996—in May to be precise—will be made available to the European Parliament and presumably to Her Majesty's Government. It is most unfortunate that we do not receive such documents on time.

I willingly agree with the remarks that fell from the lips of the noble Lord, Lord Tugendhat, with whom I was very pleased to co-operate when he was Budget Commissioner and I was a rapporteur for the European

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Parliament's Budget Committee. I believe that the noble Lord would probably accept from me that, before I make my remarks on the reports of the Court of Auditors, I invariably examine the Commission's replies and then attempt some evaluation. Most of the replies from the Commission to the documents are to the effect that since the report remedial action has been taken. However, that is a little mysterious because the same problem arises all over again in the next year. Nevertheless, I hope that the noble Lord will accept from me —as, indeed, I accepted from him when he was a very illustrious Commissioner—that I speak with the same good faith as he was good enough to address to the European Parliament while serving there.

I am not saying that the production of the 1995 draft budget would have illuminated Members of the Committee very much. It is a document about three inches thick with nearly 1,000 pages, most of which are unintelligible except to those who are fairly skilled in the interpretation of the various regulations to which it refers and who are able to understand the complex language involved; for example, the difference between commitment appropriations, undifferentiated commitments, commitments of payment and so on. It is a most complex document; but, nevertheless, it is susceptible enough, after fairly continuous study, to enable one to know what it is all about. Indeed, I can assure the Committee that it is sufficient for me to be dead accurate in the observations that I have made about Title B1-17 on the tobacco appropriations that were made for 1994 and anticipated for 1995.

Once again we have a problem. We have arrived at a situation where the ceilings of expenditure are ultimately decided by unanimity. The budget decisions which are required to come within the limits, and which do in fact come within those limits by quite a fair margin—for example, the odd 50 million or so—are made by qualified majority voting. In other words, although Her Majesty's Government give unanimous approval to the ceiling, they have no control as to how those amounts are expended because the allocations in the budget are made by qualified majority voting. One has only to look at some of the recipient countries to see what I mean. However, I speak with respect for those nationalities. I am not xenophobic in that sense. I refer to those countries with the utmost respect for their inhabitants, their rulers, their advisers and everyone else.

However, if one looks at what happens to money in the budget devoted not merely to the CAP but also to the structural funds and sees the allocations to Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal and, indeed, our fellows across the Irish Channel, the mind sometimes boggles as to how those sums have been arrived at and what real approval the United Kingdom would have given had the budget itself been subject to unanimity as distinct from qualified majority voting.

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That is all I have to say on the budget for the time being. I terminate my remarks on that aspect in the full and certain knowledge that, with the indulgence of the Committee, I shall be here once again when the preliminary draft budget for 1996 comes to this place.

Lord Henley: Both noble Lords have spoken briefly to the amendment. I hope that they will allow me to respond even more briefly. Parliament has had an explanatory memorandum accompanying the Council's second reading of the 1995 budget. That second reading occurred on 16th November. Parliament also received an explanatory memorandum on the Commission's second letter of amendment which took account of enlargement to 15 member states, and was agreed by the Council on 8th December. After the Council's second reading, the procedure is that the budget goes to the European Parliament for adoption. The final version of the budget as adopted is never published, I regret, until late January or early February. I am afraid that the 1995 budget is no exception.

I believe it would be inappropriate to hold up the coming into force of this Bill until the final version of the 1995 budget has been published. Provisions made in the 1995 budget can be altered only by way of supplementary and amending budget. Whatever supplementary and amending budget was proposed, should such supplementary and amending budget be proposed, a further explanatory memorandum would be submitted for the noble Lord's elucidation, and/or others. I shall certainly ensure, as far as I am able, that the final version of the 1995 budget is available to the Chamber absolutely as soon as it is published. Then I will await with interest the questions, an estimation, and whatever, from the noble Lord, Lord Bruce.

If this new clause were carried, and if the other place were of the same view, the United Kingdom would be unable to report adoption of the Council Decision until the final version of the budget had been made available. I believe that that delay is both unnecessary and undesirable and would in fact achieve absolutely nothing. I hope therefore that my noble friend and the noble Lord, Lord Bruce, will feel able on this occasion to withdraw their amendment.

Lord Bruce of Donington: I shall respond to that final point that the noble Lord has made. The noble Lord will doubtless be aware that another place, even though it had not seen the documents, was constrained to note the contents of the preliminary draft budget—the first draft budget as established by the Council—and explanatory memorandum. It was given one hour's debate on 28th November with 20 Members present and very little evidence that any Member of another place had examined the budget in detail, which is perhaps the justification for the interest, fortunately, which this Chamber has given to the budget.

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