HC Deb 21 April 1970 vol 800 cc229-30
19. Sir J. Langford-Holt

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will increase the allowances provided for United Kingdom delegates to the Assemblies of the Council of Europe, Western European Union and the North Atlantic Assembly to the same levels as those provided for other comparable delegations.

Mr. William Rodgers

My right hon. Friend is already considering representations regarding the rates of allowances provided for United Kingdom parliamentary delegates to these bodies.

Sir J. Langford-Holt

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I have no personal interest, either in the past or any other time, but does he really think that to have our delegates in these circumstances going round as the poor men of Europe is the right way to run these delegations?

Mr. Rodgers

I do not think that that is right, and as a former leader of our delegation to Strasbourg and W.E.U. I have more sympathy than usual with this particular proposal. It is before the Services Committee and we should wait to see what it has to say.

Mr. Shinwell

Since the delegates to the Council of Europe and Western European Union are selected primarily and exclusively because they support our entry into the Common Market—

Hon. Members

Not true.

Mr. Shinwell

—is there any reason why we should increase their allowances? In any case, do we get any value for the money we spend?

Mr. Rodgers

I would not accept for a moment the basis of selection that my right hon. Friend suggests. In any case, with his known views, I do not think that he would exclude establishing closer links, on whatever basis, with countries in Western Europe.

Mr. Farr

Would the Minister bear in mind that a similar need might exist for Members on both sides of the House attending conferences of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association?

Mr. Rodgers

I am sure that representations will be made if this is the view.

Mr. Rose

As one who has no further interest in this matter, may I press upon my hon. Friend that it is humiliating for members of the British delegation to have to rely on the hospitality of the Irish, Icelandic or Turkish delegations? Would he bear in mind that those who serve on these bodies are very often full-time Members of Parliament rather than those part-time Members who devote their time to other sources of income?

Mr. Rodgers

The basis is broadly comparable treatment with the delegates of other countries. This should be our aim.