HC Deb 03 March 1982 vol 19 cc269-70
58. Sir Anthony Meyer

asked the Lord Privy Seal if, at the next meeting of the Council of Ministers, he will raise the matter of the relations between the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers.

Mr. Humphrey Atkins

No, Sir. Relations between the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament were last discussed by the Council on 22 February and these discussions are being continued in the appropriate working group. In addition, discussions between the Council and the Parliament will be starting in the near future about the classification of expenditure in the Community budget and other aspects of the budgetary procedure.

Sir Anthony Meyer

Are the Govermnent altogether wise to slap down the European Parliament, where there is rather more support for a fair budgetary settlement than in the Council of Ministers? Does not the European Parliament serve a useful purpose in educating Opposition Members? During the recent catastrophic visit made by the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Foot) and the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) did they not discover that there is no support among the Continental Socialist parties for the alternative solution that they are putting forward?

Mr. Atkins

Yes, Sir. The European Parliament serves an extremely useful purpose, but I cannot agree that the Council of Ministers is slapping it down. We are entering into discussions with it on a variety of matters of common interest. During our Presidency, before Christmas, we took particular care to bring the European Parliament into our discussions. Indeed, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister was the first head of Government to attend a meeting of the Parliament, which she did on 16 December to give an account of the immediately preceding European Council proceedings.

Mr. Hoyle

At the next Council of Ministers, will the right hon. Gentleman put on the agenda—for discussion with the European Parliament—a subject that many find obscene, particularly at a time of high unemployment? I refer to the large golden handshakes that are given to the Commission's top members. Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that Michael Kennedy, the retiring Irish Commissioner, is to receive £40,000? In addition, how much did Roy Jenkins receive when he retired, and how much does he still receive from the Commission?

Mr. Atkins

I shall not do that and nor am I prepared to assist the hon. Gentleman in his campaign against a man who used to be his right hon. Friend.

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