§ 16. Mr. James Hamilton
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions have been held in the European Community Foreign Affairs Council regarding a supplementary budget later in the current year; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mrs. Chalker
The most recent discussion was during the Council of Finance Ministers held at the same time as the Foreign Affairs Council, on 10 March. I refer the hon. Member to the statement made by my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Treasury in reply to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, East (Mr. Knowles), on 14 March.
§ Mr. Hamilton
How could the Foreign Secretary and his colleagues have underestimated Common Market spending by so much that a supplementary budget is necessary? Does the Minister not agree that Community spending is now out of control? What about the budget discipline that we have heard so much about?
§ Mrs. Chalker
It is not that Community spending is out of control, unless certain nations, and that excludes this country, press for unrealistic agriculture budgets. What the Commission will be proposing in a supplementary budget this year will be a provision of about 450 mecu. to increase our 1985 abatement. It has also said that it will propose a supplementary provision for agriculture, which arises from the fall in the dollar-ecu rate. In our view, the correct response should be to seek savings in the agriculture budget and in that way reduce the surplus. We should then be in a far better position not to require such a repetition of events.