HC Deb 19 February 1973 vol 851 cc24-6
40. Mr. Arthur Lewis

asked the Lord President of the Council whether he will publish in the OFFICIAL REPORT details giving for the longest and most convenient stated period of time the average period of time which has elapsed before the verbatim record in English of all meetings of the European Assembly is published as an annex to the Official Journal of the European Communities; and whether the report of the Session from 16th–19th January 1973 will be published in English this month.

Mr. Prior

Prior to our accession to the Community on 1st January 1973 no verbatim records in English of the proceedings of the European Parliament were published. I will, of course, keep a very careful watch on the situation and bear in mind the hon. Member's request.

It is expected that the English verbatim record of the Session from 16th–19th January 1973 will be published this month.

Mr. Lewis

In view of the criticism which we have heard today of the excellent work that the Stationery Office has been doing for years, is it not shocking that there has been no adverse comment from the Government benches about the fact that we have to wait weeks or months for verbatim records which we should have here to know whether the Tories who have their briefs handed out by the Foreign Office are doing a good job? We do not know whether they are doing a good job or not.

Mr. Prior

It is not quite as difficult as the hon. Gentleman makes out. The record of what our English colleagues say is available quickly. The only record which takes some time to come through is the record of what members of Parliament of other countries say in their own languages, which must be translated into our language. That is what takes time.

Mr. John E. B. Hill

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the record in English of the first session was available in Luxembourg last Thursday and that if only some members of the Labour Party would go there and do their job and represent the English people they could get it?

Mr. Prior

I am grateful for that information. I agree with what my hon. Friend has said.

Mr. Shore

This is a serious matter. I understand that the record of the debate which took place last week in Strasbourg —which is, or should be, of interest to hon. Members—is not available. I understand that even the record of the contributions—such as they were—made by Conservative Members is not available except for the last time that the European Parliament met in Strasbourg nearly a month ago. Will the Leader of the House or the Lord President of the Council—whichever hat he wishes to wear—take notice of this and, if he is not responsible, try to get in touch with whoever is responsible so that we can get an early, accurate record of what is said in that assembly?

Mr. Prior

The right hon. Gentleman is confusing Strasbourg with Luxembourg. The debate which took place last week occurred in Luxembourg, not Strasbourg. There are difficulties about getting reports quickly from Luxembourg, but I share the right hon. Gentleman's anxiety, and we are doing all we can to hurry matters. The problem is a physical problem, namely, that the necessary reporting facilities cannot be provided in Luxembourg. We shall have to press the Community to make other arrangements.

Mr. Shore

Who is responsible for this matter? Whose job is it? Who can we get at to ensure that matters are speeded up?

Mr. Prior

It is the European Parliament's responsibility. The Conservative Members and, I think, the Liberal Members, have been pressing the European Parliament to try to make the reports available more quickly. I am sure that that would be for the convenience of the whole House. I cannot understand why right hon. and hon. Members opposite get so steamed up about this matter, because they do not even go to the European Parliament.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. As we cannot get a satisfactory reply from the Minister, I beg to give notice that I shall try to raise the matter on the Adjournment.

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