HC Deb 03 February 1977 vol 925 c720
3. Mr. Marten

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is taking any steps to initiate discussions on the increase of election expenses for parliamentary elections.

Mr. John

It would be appropriate for this matter to be among the first items to be considered by a new Speaker's Conference.

Mr. Marten

That is precisely the point that worries us. There is no Speaker's Conference, and the Government seem to be dragging their feet. Will the hon. Gentleman ask his friends in the Cabinet to get a move on?

On the question of direct elections to the European Parliament, if they eventually happen, may we have an assurance from the Government that no EEC money will come into this country to support parties fighting that election?

Mr. John

I think that in the second part of the question the hon. Gentleman is trading upon my good nature with regard to that subject.

On the first part of the question, the setting up of a Speaker's Conference depends not only upon the Government but upon reaching agreement with the party leaders about the terms. We should bear in mind the possibility, if the disagreement persists, of a different way of dealing with expenses for elections.

Mr. MacFarquhar

Following on the last questioner, may I ask my hon. Friend whether his Department is absolutely clear and ahead with its preparations for direct elections when the Bill comes before the House of Commons?

Mr. John

In the classic phrase, we our using our best endeavours.