HC Deb 17 January 1974 vol 867 cc902-3
10. Mr. Moate

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the current position on the proposals for moving towards economic and monetary union in the EEC ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Maurice Macmillan

At the meeting of the Council of Ministers on 17th December, which I attended, agreement was reached on most of a resolution on the move to a second stage of economic and monetary union. Agreement on the references in the resolution to regional and energy policy has been deferred until the issues have been settled.

Mr. Moate

Why do the Government continue to devote their time and energy to this charade of economic and monetary union, particularly since the proposals have never been endorsed either by this House or by the country? Will not even the provisions of the second stage be rendered meaningless if the Government have to introduce further monetary controls, as seems likely?

Mr. Macmillan

I do not accept the implications of the latter part of that supplementary question. It is not a charade. There has been a great deal of discussion and agreement among European countries on a second stage going towards European monetary union. It is obviously a long-term process which has to be argued out between the countries concerned, and agreement has been reached with the exception of the part referring to regional and energy policy.

Mr. Skinner

Is the Minister aware that when hon. Members and Members of the House of Lords travel to Europe to discuss the harmonisation of economic and monetary union they are warranted with £120 for each flight, that they travel by charter flight for £46 and that they pocket the difference? Will the right hon. Gentleman, in his rôle as Minister of State within the chancellery, find out from the Inland Revenue what it has been doing in this matter and whether tax evasion is taking place on this massive scale and report to the House as quickly as possible?

Mr. Macmillan

The hon. Member knows or should know what is known to every hon. Member: that no Minister has ever had the capacity to interfere or intervene in the individual tax matters of persons whether they are Members of Parliament or not. I hope that no member of any administration would seek to have political power over the legal authorities dealing with tax evasion.