HC Deb 23 July 1987 vol 120 cc482-4
Q5. Mr. Teddy Taylor

asked the Prime Minister if she will invite the European Council to secure a report from the Commission on the operation and effectiveness of the strict budgetary controls agreed by the Council on 4 December 1984 before the Council gives further consideration to the Commission's proposals for extra funding linked to strict budgetary controls: and if she will make a statement.

The Prime Minister

The Commission reported on budget discipline in its two February papers on future financing of the Community. In the light of discussion at the June European Council it has undertaken to bring forward further proposals shortly. I made it clear that before the question of increasing Community resources can be addressed we must agree on effective and binding controls over Community spending, particularly agricul-tural spending.

Mr. Taylor

As the last round of "effective, binding controls" produced, instead of restraint, a series of accounting devices, of which even Liverpool councillors would be ashamed, and an escalation in the cost of food dumping and food destruction to £240 million a week, with the Soviet Union and the Mafia being major beneficiaries, will my right in saying hon. Friend agree to stand firm in December and, instead of giving more money to the uncontrollable CAP, propose that we should return agricultural responsibility to member states?

The Prime Minister

I confess that I have some degree of sympathy with some of my hon. Friend's points—as one usually has. He is quite right in saying that we did not get a binding arrangement for financial discipline on the last occasion, and we must have it on this occasion. I do not think that we can abolish the common agricultural policy. There may have to be a degree of national financing, but it would have to be within a Community framework. My hon. Friend will know — he knows the common agricultural policy very well—that if one looks back to the treaty there is absolutely nothing wrong with the common agricultural policy. It is the way in which it has been operated in practice that we wish to cure.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

I warn the House that this is not an open question.

Mr. Cryer

Is not the common agricultural policy a disaster? The Prime Minister makes a great pretence of being concerned about the complete lack of budgetary control, but will not the farm agreement cost this country £600 million this year and many more millions of pounds next year? As we have such a huge balance of trade deficit in manufactured goods, will the Prime Minister explain to the House clearly and succinctly what benefits we get from the Common Market, because it costs about £500 million to £1 billion to be a member of this absurd organisation?

The Prime Minister

No. I think that the original reason why we went in, and it was agreed by most hon. Members on both sides of the House that it was wise to go in, was a political one—that we should be part of the European Community. The Community's original purpose was to ensure not only that there was an Economic Community but that nations which had hitherto fought one another should in future work together in peace and for greater prosperity for them all.