HC Deb 18 May 1977 vol 932 cc445-6
16. Mr. Marten

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many EEC regulations and directives have been imposed upon the areas of work covered by his Department since 1973.

Mr. Shore

The Council has adopted 21 directives and regulations on matters for which my Department has a major responsibility.

Mr. Marten

What is the cost of implementing these regulations and directives, and how many extra public employees are involved? Does the right hon. Gentle man agree that it is important to watch the breeding capacity of the Brussels apparatchik in over-creating further civil servants in this country?

Mr. Shore

I welcome the hon. Gentleman's attention to this aspect of Community affairs as they affect this country, and especially my Department. Without notice, I cannot give him a detailed answer on cost. However, I can assure him that I am conscious of the general tendency to extend Community competence and the dangers that this may pose for us in terms of additional costs and burdens and the diminution of our legislative authority. We look upon all such proposals most carefully and critically.

Mr. Jay

On balance, does my right hon. Friend think that the regulations and directives have done any good?

Mr. Shore

In my area they are, by definition, of a somewhat different character. They are concerned mainly with environmental pollution. In that area, where increasingly the problems of pollution cross national frontiers, there is the possibility of coming to commonsense agreements and arrangements that we would have wished to conclude whether or not we had joined the Community.

Mr. Welsh

How many of these regulations has the right hon. Gentleman initiated, and how many have been initiated in Europe and imposed upon the United Kingdom as part of the process of standardisation?

Mr. Shore

I am not aware of having initiated any, but I am aware of having been caught, as it were, in the onward flow of proposals that emanate from Brussels. I have done my best to cope with that flow and to ensure that no proposals are accepted unless they accord with the interests of this country and with the general rule of common sense.

Mr. Rooker

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I ask you to rule that Question No. 18 is hypocritical or ironic, in view of the fact that it comes from a member of the Opposition.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is guilty of the sin for which he is confounding others.