HC Deb 14 January 1980 vol 976 cc1201-3
35. Mr. Winnick

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what representations have been received regarding the use of facilities at the House by Members of the European Assembly.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Representations have been received from the leaders of the two main United Kingdom party groups in the European Parliament. These are being considered by the Services Committee.

Mr. Winnick

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is no justification on constitutional or accommodation grounds for Euro-Assembly Members to use the facilities at Westminster? Will he do his best to resist the representations that are being made about the matter?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

That is one view, but another view held equally strongly by other hon. Members is that facilities of a reasonable but limited nature should be extended to European Members. I am trying to reach a reasonable compromise that will respect both views, and that is not easy.

Sir Anthony Meyer

Does my right hon. Friend accept that, whether or not one is in favour of Britain's membership of the EEC, there are overwhelming arguments for improving relationships between the two Assemblies? Is it possible to make available one of the upstairs overflow galleries to Members of the European Parliament?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

My hon. Friend's second suggestion is a matter for the Services Committee and Mr. Speaker, as well as for myself. I certainly agree that it is better for the two Parliaments to grow together than to grow apart.

Mr. Foot

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is pre-eminently a matter to be decided by the House as a whole? Will he give an undertaking that he and the Government will not seek to press ahead with any proposal that they may have until they have the general consent of the House?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

The matter is now before the Services Committee, and I am awaiting an indication of its views before taking the matter further.

Mr. Foot

Will the right hon. Gentleman go further than that? It is a matter that concerns all hon. Members in all parts of the House and it is not for the Services Committee to decide. Will he agree that the matter is to be decided finally in this Chamber and that it would be far better to deal with a matter affecting the facilities of the House by the general consent of the House?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

In the last resort, if it is a matter of controversy that cannot be settled through the Services Committee, the usual channels or any other means, this Chamber must decide, but let us proceed one step at a time. My answer to the right hon. Gentleman is that we had better wait and see.


Mr. Alan Clark

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You will have heard the exchanges between the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Foot) and my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House about the question of access and facilities for Members of the European Assembly. Can you put at rest the minds of those of us who are concerned about that matter and confirm that there is no question of extending our facilities to any individual, other than those elected at general elections, without the full consent of the full assembly of this Parliament in this Chamber?

Mr. Speaker

The Leader of the House made a very clear statement. [HON. MEMBERS: "No"] Well, it was clear to me. He said that the matter is to be pursued further.

Forward to