HC Deb 16 January 1991 vol 183 cc840-2
6. Mr. Patrick Thompson

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress is being made in the United Kingdom in implementing European legislation.

Mr. Garel-Jones

The Commission's latest report on single market implementation shows that the United Kingdom has implemented 84 per cent. of measures requiring national implementation. Only Denmark, with 88 per cent. and Portugal—taking into account its derogations—with 85 per cent., had a better record than the United Kingdom.

Mr. Thompson

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. As this country has such a good record in the implementation of European legislation, will he outline the steps that the Government are taking to ensure maximum compliance by the more laggardly members of the European Community?

Mr. Garel-Jones

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. In this, as in so many other European endeavours, the United Kingdom has one of the best records in the Community. We intend to put forward ideas on implementation, enforcement and compliance at the intergovernmental conference, which we believe will strengthen the rule of law throughout the Community.

Mr. John D. Taylor

In view of the perception of many members of the European Community that the United Kingdom is a bad member of that club, what efforts have the Government taken to publicise in those countries its first-class record in enacting legislation for 1992?

Mr. Garel-Jones

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman. If we have been laggardly, I assure him that we are not being so now. Many of our partners are aware of our excellent record and are anxious to support our endeavours to strengthen the rule of law throughout the Community.

Mr. Dykes

In view of the obvious importance of hon. Members being able to follow European legislation and to scrutinise it in advance, through contacts with Community institutions in Brussels, and as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office takes the lead on EC liaison, will my hon. Friend make a point of liaising with the office of the Leader of the House and the Services Committee on the proposal for dedicated telephone lines so that Members here can keep in regular contact with Community institutions and the Commission in Brussels, notwithstanding the obvious reality that a few nervous, hesitant Members think that it is dangerous to have regular contact with foreigners?

Mr. Garel-Jones

I am not aware that many hon. Members, with the possible exception of the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner), are reluctant to have contact with foreigners or with foreign parts. This specific matter is one for discussion between the usual channels and between my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House and the shadow Leader of the House. We would certainly support them in any actions that would give hon. Members better and closer contact with events in the Community.

Mr. Anderson

Is the Minister aware that the EC Commissioner for social affairs, Mrs. Papandreou, following her meeting on Monday with the Secretary of State for Employment, said that the completion of the internal market by 1992 was in jeopardy because of what she called the negative British attitude towards elements of the social action programme? Following the Thatcherite hostility to the EEC, has there been only a change of style, or is there really a change of substance? Are the Government prepared to move towards majority voting in the social action sphere?

Mr. Garel-Jones

My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Employment has already pointed out that the Government have the best record throughout the Community in implementing the directives that are associated with social action. We are in no way being laggardly. We contend that in this matter, as in so many others, we are at the forefront.

Forward to