HC Deb 25 July 1984 vol 64 cc983-4
90. Mr. Knox

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about progress made towards achieving the objectives set out in the solemn declaration on European union made by the Heads of Government at the Stuttgart summit.

Mr. Rifkind

The recent European Council discussed the future development of Europe and agreed that two ad hoc committees would be set up, which will look at ways of improving European co-operation.

Mr. Knox

Does my hon. Friend agree that it is essential that Britain should play a full and constructive part in implementing the solemn declaration and that it will be disastrous if we stand on the sidelines while others act?

Mr. Rifkind

The Government intend to play a full and constructive part in the deliberations on these matters. I assure my hon. Friend that that will continue to be our priority.

Mr. Marlow

Will the Government review their decision to ask the House to approve an increase in European own resources? As it is patently obvious to everyone that the Community has no wish to live within its current ceiling, what faith can we have in the new ceiling?

Mr. Rifkind

As my hon. Friend well knows, the Government's recommendation for an increase in own resources will take place only if we are satisfied that the agreement still to be reached on proposals for budgetary discipline meets our requirements and what we believe to be necessary in the interests of the Community.

Mr. Bowen Wells

Will my hon. Friend describe the form of budgetary discipline currently under discussion?

Mr. Rifkind

We are concerned that the general statement on the need to control expenditure should be implemented by means of budgetary procedures that will ensure that in future years Community expenditure is kept within the sums determined by the Budget Councils.

Sir Peter Blaker

What proposals are the Government putting forward for further liberalisation of the internal market?

Mr. Rifkind

The Government attach substantial importance to the creation of a genuine common market. We believe that there is scope for progress not only in the simplification of frontier controls, but in liberalisation of services throughout the Community.

Mr. Spearing

The Minister mentioned two ad hoc committees. Will he now answer my earlier question? Did the Prime Minister approve paragraph 6 of the document which, among other things, established those two committees?

Mr. Rifkind

So far as I know, that paragraph did not specifically establish committees, but I have made it clear that we welcome the appointment of the committees and intend to play a full and constructive part in their deliberations.

Sir John Biggs-Davison

Does my hon. Friend agree that the solemn declaration raises important constitutional issues for the United Kingdom? Before the committees do too much and before any further progress is made on this, may we have a full debate on the matter in this House?

Mr. Rifkind

The solemn declaration to which my hon. Friend refers is what is often known as the Genscher-Colombo proposal, which has no constitutional implications for the United Kingdom. The committees have been established to look at practical ways to improve the workings of Community institutions and co-operation between member states.