HC Deb 17 March 1986 vol 94 cc12-3
49. Mr. Teddy Taylor

asked the Attorney-General if he is satisfied with the preparations which have been made for the hearing of the interim application by the United Kingdom to the European Court of Justice on the expenditure by the Commission of the sums raised in the budget as passed by the European Assembly; and if he will make a statement.

The Attorney-General (Sir Michael Havers)

Yes, we expect judgment shortly.

Mr. Taylor

Will the necessary steps be taken to prevent the Commission from spending this money in an illegal budget before the judgment is made? Will the Attorney-General consider recommending to his Government colleagues that an amendment be made to the Single European Act to prevent the European Assembly from making illegal budgets in the future?

The Attorney-General

It was expected that the judgment in the main action would not be delivered until the early part of next year. We now hope that it will be in high summer, and therefore part of the worry expressed by my hon. Friend will be removed. I shall draw the rest of his remarks to the attention of my colleagues.

Mr. Deakins

If we are successful in our application to the court, will we be able to reclaim, and is it our intention to reclaim, the moneys paid over which are outwith the Consolidated Fund?

The Attorney-General

If the moneys have not been spent, we shall, of course, seek to reclaim them.

Mr. John Morris

Is not at least £70 million at stake? Why did Britain wait from December to March before it tried to seek an interim injunction? The Government parade their belief in the rule of law, so why the delay?

The Attorney-General

The sum is £70 million up to the end of March—the end of the financial year. We have moved as fast as possible, but we have had to consider and consult our colleagues in the Community. They are all on our side in relation to the illegality of the European budget, but only we are prepared— I think properly—to take the initiative of going for an interim judgment.