HC Deb 28 November 1973 vol 865 cc388-9
18. Mr. Jay

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many regulations, decisions and directives purporting to have legal effect in the United Kingdom have been approved by the EEC Commission in 1973 without reference to the Council of Ministers.

Mr. John Davies

Between 1st January and 15th November 1973 the Commission made 2,836 regulations, and addressed to the United Kingdom, either alone or in conjunction with other member States, 126 decisions and seven directives. These are binding in accordance with the provisions of Article 189 of the EEC Treaty.

As the Second Report of the Select Committee on European Community Secondary Legislation observes, the overwhelming bulk of Commission instruments are very limited in their scope or content and their average effective life is nine days.

Mr. Jay

Does the right hon. Gentleman really think that these administrative decrees, made in secret by an unelected body, with no representatives in this country on it—since the commissioners are international civil servants—and with no consultations with the British Parliament, have any morally or legally binding effect on this country?

Mr. Davies

Within the framework of the total activities of the Community it is obviously necessary and right that within these detailed areas there should be delegations to a body competent to deal with it. But the right hon. Gentleman is wrong in what he says. The fact is that the main parts of these instruments are subject to consideration by management committees, on which there is official advice from the member countries.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Will not my right hon. Friend confirm that at least half the regulations which have been mentioned deal with the variable levy on cereals, which are purely administrative, and that it would be a complete and utter waste of time of this House to debate them at all? They change from day to day.

Mr. Davies

My hon. Friend is correct in every particular. I suggest that it would also be of interest to the House to see exactly what the Select Committee of the House has suggested in terms of a screening and sifting arrangement.