HC Deb 22 October 1992 vol 212 cc563-73 3.31 pm
Mrs. Margaret Beckett (Derby, South)

Will the Leader of the House state the business for next week?

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Tony Newton)

Yes, Madam. The business for next week will be as follows:

  • MONDAY 26 OCTOBER—Remaining stages of the Bankruptcy (Scotland) Bill
  • TUESDAY 27 OCTOBER—Timetable motion on and conclusion of remaining stages of the Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill.
  • Motion to take note of EC Document No. 6132/92 relating to the fifth environmental action programme. Details will be given in the Official Report.
  • WEDNESDAY 28 OCTOBER—Debate on a motion to take note of the outstanding reports of the Public Accounts Committee to which the Government have replied.
  • THURSDAY 29 OCTOBER—Debate on the White Paper on "New Opportunities for the Railways" on a motion for the Adjournment of the House.
  • FRIDAY 30 OCTOBER—Debate on sport on a motion for the Adjournment of the House.
  • MONDAY 2 NOVEMBER—Second Reading of the Asylum and Immigration Appeals Bill.
Madam Speaker, the House will also wish to know that European Standing Committee B will meet on Wednesday 28 October at 10.30 am to consider European Community Document No. 4327/92 relating to cultural goods.

I believe that it would also be of assistance to the House if I announced today some important future business that will shortly come before it. On Wednesday 4 November there will be a debate on a motion relating to the European Communities (Amendment) Bill. On 12 November my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will make his autumn statement to the House. We propose that that will be debated shortly thereafter in Government time.

[Tuesday 27 October

Wednesday 28 October

Mrs. Beckett

I thank the Leader of the House for that statement. In the light of the fast deteriorating situation reported from around the world—from Kurdistan, the Ogaden, southern Africa and Sarajevo—and the certainty of a huge increase in the loss of life as winter approaches, will the Leader of the House arrange for an early debate so that hon. Members in all parts of the House can express their opposition to cuts in the overseas aid budget before the public expenditure programme is finalised?

As the autumn statement will cover the shape of that programme and should also shed light on whether we have a new economic policy as a No. 10. briefing implies, whether we are seeking a new economic policy as the Prime Minister has been saying, or whether, in the Chancellor's words yesterday, there has in no way been a change of policy, will the Leader of the House ensure that previous practice of a two-day debate—one on the autumn statement and a separate debate on the public expenditure programme—will be followed this year?

Will the Leader of the House further tell us whether there will be a proper early statement on the progress of GATT talks, first, because on Tuesday, at column 323 of Hansard, the Prime Minister said that it is not now possible for one member country to scupper those talks and, secondly, to save him from using Prime Minister's Question Time to make such statements?

Finally, I remind the Leader of the House that we are eagerly awaiting publication of the Government's response to the Jopling report. In the meantime, as requested by my predecessor, will he take the earliest possible opportunity to arrange for business to be announced to the House two weeks ahead?

Mr. Newton

On the last point, in one sense I have responded in part to one of the Jopling recommendations by some of the indications that I have given in my statement about business in the next few weeks. I hope that that is regarded as a positive and constructive move.

Mr. John Smith (Monklands, East)

More, please.

Mr. Newton

I am urged on ever further by the Leader of the Opposition. In the circumstances, I had better be a little cautious, but I hear what he says.

I welcome the hon. Member for Derby, South (Mrs. Beckett) to her new position and I hope shortly to be able to open discussions through the usual channels on the Jopling issues that she raised in her request today.

On GATT, I note the request that has been made. The hon. Lady will have heard what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said—and, indeed, the vigour with which he said it—during Prime Minister's Question Time. A debate might be further considered through the usual channels, but in the light of developments following what my right hon. Friend said I certainly cannot make an off-the-cuff commitment to a debate next week.

On the autumn statement, I have already indicated that it would be—unusually, as it happens—the Government's intention to provide for a debate very shortly after the statement has been made. Again, I will fall back on the "usual channels" response to what the hon. Lady said about, in effect, a two-day debate. We can have further consideration of that matter.

On overseas aid, I do no more than note the hon. Lady's point, but I observe in return that there will at least be some opportunity for those matters to be raised as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will answer questions next Wednesday.

Sir Teddy Taylor (Southend, East)

In view of the disappointing announcement that the Leader of the House has made about the business for 4 November, will he seriously consider the possible nonsense of wasting a great deal of parliamentary time before we find out whether the people of Denmark want to overturn their decision? Why should we waste parliamentary time when there is so much to do in Britain and so much to talk about? Why can we not wait until the Danes decide for themselves whether they want to say yes or no?

Mr. Newton

I hope that my hon. Friend will agree, although I know how strongly he feels about these matters, that the Danes have made considerable progress in discussing and indicating how they see the way forward. We think that in the light of that it is now appropriate to invite this House to consider, along the lines that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister indicated earlier in the year, the position of the European Communities (Amendment) Bill.

Mr. Archy Kirkwood (Roxburgh and Berwickshire)

I warmly welcome the advance notice that has been given by the Leader of the House. I hope that that will encourage him to make a full two-week statement in future. It is very welcome to have those two important dates in advance.

I underline the point made by the hon. Member for Derby, South (Mrs. Beckett) about GATT. It is not just the political circumstances, but the implications for the textile industries and agriculture. It is a changing situation, but we need a debate at the earliest possible time to clarify some of the implications of the potential breakdown of the talks.

Mr. Newton

I well understand, as I am sure that the whole House understands, the importance attached to this matter by all hon. Members, but I do not think that at this stage I can add to what I said to the hon. Lady a moment ago.

Mr. Peter Thurnham (Bolton, North-East)

Will my right hon. Friend find time for a debate on the need for greater freedom in the skies, particularly for air travellers between regional airports in this country and the United States, so that we can get rid of all unnecessary restrictions?

Mr. Newton

My hon. Friend knows very well that the British Government have been pressing that point strongly in various discussions and negotiations in the European Community. I think that useful progress has been made, but I cannot promise an early debate on the matter.

Mr. Nick Ainger (Pembroke)

Will the Leader of the House find time in the near future for a debate on yesterday's announcement by the Minister of State for the Armed Forces? It will mean the deaths of many of my constituents, tourists, climbers and seafarers due to the reduction in cover by search and rescue helicopters. It is also of national significance that in the report following that announcement—

Madam Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman must simply put a question to the Leader of the House asking if he will change next week's business. That is the point of business questions.

Mr. Newton

I am obviously aware of the announcement to which the hon. Gentleman refers. Contrary to the implication of his remarks, the announcement was made on the basis that it would not significantly affect the Government's ability to provide an appropriate level of cover around the United Kingdom in respect of the issues which concern the hon. Gentleman. As I said to the hon. Member for Derby, South, there will be an opportunity to raise those matters again at Ministry of Defence questions next Tuesday.

Mr. John Denham (Southampton, Itchen)

Will the Leader of the House confirm whether the debate announced earlier on the European Community's environment programme will include a report on the decision reached this week on the import of toxic waste into this country? If it is to include that decision, will the right hon. Gentleman tell the Secretary of State for the Environment that many hon. Members will wish to hear a declaration that this country will use its powers under that agreement to ban the current import into this country of 44,000 tonnes of toxic waste a year, 20,000 tonnes of which come through the port of Southampton?

Mr. Newton

I would not attempt such a judgment. It is for the Chair to decide what might or might not be in order in the course of that debate, but I will ensure that my right hon. and learned Friend's attention is drawn to the concern that the hon. Gentleman has expressed.

Mr. Roger Knapman (Stroud)

My right hon. Friend has suggested that we debate the European Communities (Amendment) Bill on 4 November. Would not 5 November be more appropriate? How can we possibly proceed with the Bill when so much of it relates to monetary union, which is totally impossible at present?

Mr. Newton

My hon. Friend knows very well that the British Government have approached the matter on the basis of the outcome of the negotiations at the turn of last year, which includes—as my right hon. Friend the Chancellor has emphasised a number of times—the firm position that the British Government are in no way committed to a single currency.

Mr. John Bowis (Battersea)

As two more of my schools move towards grant-maintained status, will my right hon. Friend bring forward the debate on grant-maintained schools, which may come with a second Bill? I ask the question so that my constituents may know whether the Labour party's policy is that proposed at the last election by the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw), which was broadly supportive of such schools, or the policy now expressed by the Labour party spokeswoman, which is wholly hostile and destructive?

Mr. Newton

I promise my hon. Friend that, although we have not yet published the Education Bill, we are publishing today two major Government Bills. I do not think that he will have to wait too much longer for the Education Bill which will, I think, be widely welcomed throughout the country when it is introduced.

Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington)

The Leader of the House will know that the Select Committee on Members' Interests spent hundreds of hours working and conducting inquiries and discussions which led to our proposal for a new Register of Members' Interests. That should now come before the House as a matter of urgency. Can the Leader of the House give us time for a debate?

Mr. Newton

The hon. Gentleman will recall that shortly before the summer recess I went to some length to provide time for debate on various reports which was interrelated with that subject. I know that the hon. Gentleman wished us to go further and I have his request very much in mind, but I cannot give an undertaking on a specific time at present.

Mr. Mark Wolfson (Sevenoaks)

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it would be in the Government's own interests to allow at least two days for an economic debate following the autumn statement? It is vital to the country that we clarify exactly where we stand and where we intend to go, and this would surely be the right opportunity to do that.

Mr. Newton

When I start to get requests not only from the usual channels but from some unusual ones as well, I give them even greater weight. I cannot make an absolute commitment, but I have said that we shall give some thought to the request.

Mr. Ken Livingstone (Brent, East)

Will the Leader of the House consider a debate centred on early-day motion 589?

[That this House welcomes the decision of the United States Congress to investigate arms sales to Iraq; notes the charges by former Israeli Military Intelligence agent Mr. Ari Ben-Menashe that a Texan-based company owned by Mr. Mark Thatcher was used to move equipment directly from Britain to Iraq, that Mark Thatcher introduced 'Supergun' designer Gerald Bull to South African Military Intelligence General Pieter Van der Westhuizen, who subsequently introduced Mr. Bull to the Iraqi Deputy Chief of Procurement who arranged payment for Mr. Bull's services via Cardoen Industries financial network and that Mark Thatcher introduced Mr. Bull to Mark Thatcher's Chilean associate Carlos Cardoen; notes that Mr. Ben-Menashe also charges that Mark Thatcher sold 48 Chieftain tanks to Chile and proclaimed his admiration for General Pinochet; and, in the light of these charges, hopes the Government will conduct its own investigation to determine the truth of these charges and, if proved true, bring criminal charges against any United Kingdom Government individuals who were aware of these activities.]

The motion draws attention to serious allegations by a former Israeli military intelligence officer that a Texas-based company run by Mark Thatcher was instrumental in arranging the sale of the supergun to Iraq, and its funding. Will the right hon. Gentleman arrange for reports to be laid before the House from the heads of MI5 and MI6 stating whether they briefed the former Prime Minister about the activities of her son?

Mr. Newton

The hon. Gentleman knows that investigation and prosecution in a matter of this kind would require evidence of breaches of United Kingdom controls on arms exports to Iraq and Chile. If he or any other hon. Member has such evidence, he should first make it available to the relevant authorities.

Mr. Roger Moate (Faversham)

As my right hon. Friend has announced the date for the Maastricht debate, he presumably knows the form of the motion that will be presented to the House. Will it be a substantive motion capable of amendment or a motion for the Adjournment? May I suggest that the latter would be preferable, given the varying circumstances and the almost weekly changes in relation to this matter? It would be far more sensible to allow all sections of the House to present their views on an Adjournment motion.

Mr. Newton

I note what my hon. Friend says, but I would expect it to be a substantive motion.

Mr. Brian Sedgemore (Hackney, South and Shoreditch)

Can the Leader of the House confirm that the Secretary of State for Health will make a statement tomorrow on Professor Bernard Tomlinson's proposal to close some of London's major teaching hospitals? Is he aware that the hospitals have been told that the press will get this document at 8.30 am, that Professor Tomlinson will hold a press conference at 10 am—before the statement is made to the House—and that the hospitals concerned, the pitiful victims of the proposals, will not receive the document until 12.30 pm or even 2 pm? Will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that there are no pre-releases of the document, no press conferences and no press releases until both this House and the hospitals concerned have had a chance to see the papers?

Mr. Newton

The answer to the first part of the hon. Gentleman's question is yes, I can confirm that my right hon. Friend intends to make a statement tomorrow covering the publication of the report and how she proposes to carry forward consideration of it. I shall, of course, undertake to bring the hon. Gentleman's latter observations to her attention.

Mr. John Greenway (Ryedale)

Do the Government intend that there should be an opportunity for a debate on the Bingham report, published today? Will they link that debate with a wide-ranging discussion of the future of our banking and financial services industry, on which so much of our economic future depends?

Mr. Newton

It is my intention that, at an appropriate time, there should be a debate on the matter. Perhaps I can reserve judgment on the precise extent and content of such a debate until my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made his statement a little later this afternoon.

Mr. Harry Barnes (Derbyshire, North-East)

There are a number of current scandals: pit closures, sterling and the fact that the House has been away for three months while those crises have been bumbling around. There is, however, another crisis that we should examine. It is outlined in early-day motion 601.

[That this House believes that thousands of people are in desperate circumstances due to massive failures in the operations of the Benefits Agency; and calls for the resignations of the Secretary of State for Social Security and the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State with responsibilities for the Benefits Agency, together with the disbanding of the Benefits Agency and the return of its duties directly to the Department of Social Security where the operations of the benefits system can once more be opened to parliamentary scrutiny.]

The motion refers to the failure of the social security system. The disability living allowance unit is in a state of collapse, and the whole operation of the Benefits Agency is an utter disgrace. People have been cut off from benefits, and, despite having to go through a great deal of detail and time wasting, they cannot get their benefits back.

May we have a debate on the future of the Secretary of State for Social Security, the future of the Benefits Agency and the problem of our inability to ask questions in the House relating to that agency?

Mr. Newton

On the last point, the hon. Gentleman will know that I announced on Tuesday that chief executives' replies to hon. Members questions are to be published in the Official Report. I hope that that is welcome as it is something that a number of people have pressed for and, frankly, I think that it is a sensible decision.

On the hon. Gentleman's other observations, I am well aware that the introduction of substantially improved extended disability benefits was attended by some difficulty because of the level of demand for them. I am also well aware that those problems were vigorously tackled by the Benefits Agency but I will, of course, draw the hon. Gentleman's remarks to the attention of my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Ian Bruce (South Dorset)

Would my right hon. Friend consider having a debate about public expenditure before the autumn statement so that we do not have the unedifying spectacle of hon. Members trying to advise the Chancellor, after the event, what he should have been doing with public expenditure? I have particularly asked that question because I know that £300 million is due to be spent on moving the Procurement Executive to a central location north of Bristol with the loss of thousands of jobs in my constituency and others. It will take 14 years to pay back to the Exchequer the cost of that move. If we could highlight such wasteful uses of public expenditure, we might get somewhere in keeping our economy under control.

Mr. Newton

I am afraid that I cannot promise my hon. Friend a debate of quite the kind that he wishes, but it seems to me that he made effective use of his opportunity today to make a contribution to the debate. I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor will note what he said.

Mr. Alex Salmond (Banff and Buchan)

Will the Leader of the House acknowledge the strongest possible case for a debate next week on the crisis in the Scottish fishing industry? He may recall the words of Aneurin Bevan who said that Britain is almost made of coal and surrounded by fish. Does he agree that the Scottish fishing communities are currently being treated with the same arrogance and insensitivity that the Government tried to dish out to the English mining communities?

Mr. Newton

The hon. Gentleman would not expect me to accept—nor do I—accept the suggestion that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland or any of his Ministers are treating any part of Scottish industry with arrogance and insensitivity, to repeat his words. I am aware that there are problems, but they are being addressed.

Mr. Harry Greenway (Ealing, North)

All my constituents will welcome the fact that the Asylum and Immigration Appeals Bill has been announced for consideration on 2 November. However, could we have a debate next week on the pressures exerted on boroughs such as Ealing which are near to Heathrow? The pressures are different from those experienced in other constituencies because asylum seekers put great pressure on housing authorities and social services and we in Ealing already have enormous problems in meeting housing needs and the like.

Mr. Newton

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his welcome for the appearance of the Asylum and Immigration Appeals Bill. I said in my statement earlier that I expect it to have its Second Reading on Monday week, and it would seem entirely appropriate—subject to you, Madam Speaker—for my hon. Friend to seek to make some of those points in the course of that debate.

Mr. Peter L. Pike (Burnley)

Does the Leader of the House agree that it is totally wrong that Ministers are increasingly referring letters from hon. Members on policy issues to the chief executives of agencies, who cannot respond on those policy issues? As this is such a fundamental change affecting the rights of hon. Members' on both sides of the House, could we have a debate on the issues involved to ensure that procedures are correctly followed and policy issues are dealt with by the Ministers responsible for them?

Mr. Newton

The hon. Gentleman will know that the basis of the current arrangement is that matters are referred to the chief executives when they concern, essentially, the delivery of the services with which they are charged. Therefore, if the hon. Gentleman has particular examples where he believes that what should have properly been treated as a matter of policy has been passed to chief executives, I should like to bring them to the attention of my right hon. Friends or other hon. Friends concerned.

Mr. Christopher Gill (Ludlow)

In the light of the Prime Minister's remarks at the Conservative party conference in Brighton, does my right hon. Friend have it in mind to allow the House to debate the subject of regulatory overkill, which threatens the competitive position of so many sections of British industry with absolutely no perceptible benefit to the customer?

Mr. Newton

I am not sure that I can promise an early debate on those matters, but my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made clear in his remarks on economic policy earlier in the week that continued attention to what is called the deregulation initiative is part and parcel of our approach to seeking to build growth on the basis of low inflation.

Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South)

Does the Leader of the House accept that if he allows the Jopling proposals to sink out of sight it would be widely accepted on both sides of the House?

Can he give time for a debate next week, or at the earliest opportunity, on the Home Office statement on the decision not to grant Derek Bentley a posthumous pardon? Many people consider that there was an outrageous injustice in the first place and it has been compounded by the Home Secretary turning a blind eye to the evidence submitted which justifies such a pardon for the innocent Derek Bentley. As the statement was made when the House was not sitting and no Member had the chance to question the Minister, surely we should have time for a debate.

Mr. Newton

On the issue of Jopling, I shall not attempt to add to what I told the hon. Member for Derby, South, I will leave her to discuss with the hon. Gentleman the variation in their attitudes to that matter.

On the latter question, I ought to say that, knowing my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary as I do, I cannot accept the description that the hon. Gentleman gave of the long and careful consideration which I know that he gave to the Bentley case. I cannot promise an early opportunity for a debate on that.

Mr. Walter Sweeney (Vale of Glamorgan)

Does my right hon. Friend accept that the majority of people in this country do not want to become European citizens and do not want a common defence policy or a single currency, that they will regard it as an irrelevance to debate Maastricht on 4 November, and that they will feel that we are fiddling while Rome burns?

Mr. Newton

I advert to what I said earlier about the British Government's clear opposition to the notion of a federal Europe, and the absence of any commitment on the single currency having been agreed at Maastricht. My hon. Friend will be well aware of those points. I do not think that the people of this country will regard as irrelevant further consideration of the relationship between this country and others in the Community in circumstances in which it is overwhelmingly accepted that our future lies in the Community and that our trade with it, and influence in it, are matters of crucial British interest not—French or German interest, but British interest.

Mr. Alan Williams (Swansea, West)

Before next Wednesday's Public Accounts Committee debate, will the right hon. Gentleman tell the House or have one of his colleagues tell us whether it is correct that, at a time of impending public expenditure cuts, it is proposed to spend £2 million to £3 million on the refurbishment of Old Palace yard, from which hon. Members of this House and their secretaries are to be evicted, to provide accommodation for four ex-Prime Ministers who are in another place, three of whom have expressed no interest in such accommodation, which means that that money is being spent to provide accommodation for the Prime Minister in exile—the noble Lady Baroness Thatcher?

Mr. Newton

The right hon. Gentleman will be aware that there have been discussions between the two Houses, which have resulted in an agreement that the Lords would give up the third floor of 7 Milbank in exchange for the transfer back to them of 6 and 7 Old Palace yard. It is recognised that no such change could be made without inconvenience, but the relevant Committees of both Houses—in the case of this House, that is the Accommodation and Works Committee—have accepted that that change has major benefits for all concerned.

Mr. Derek Enwright (Hemsworth)

The Leader of the House will be interested to hear that I had a long telephone conversation this morning with a card-carrying Conservative, who informed me that the way in which the budgets of the 10 condemned pits have been shown as making a loss was false accountancy. He has clear proof of that. Will the Leader of the House therefore provide time next week for us to consider that matter urgently, after a statement by his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, so that we can assure ourselves that those 10 pits work at a considerable profit?

Mr. Newton

It might surprise the hon. Gentleman a little if I were to promise another debate next week of the sort that we had yesterday.

Mr. Enright

No, it would not.

Mr. Newton

Even if it would not surprise the hon. Gentleman, I can assure him that I am not planning to give him such an assurance. It would seem that the statutory 90-day period on which we have embarked provides an opportunity for him and others to raise the point that he has made.

Mr. Greville Janner (Leicester, West)

May I press the Leader of the House to allow time for a statement on overseas aid as a matter of urgency? Is he aware that the hon. Member for Bury, South (Mr. Sumberg) and I have recently returned from a visit to Lithuania and Latvia? Apart from the misery of a pilgrimage to mass graves, we now know just how cold those countries are, how poor they are, and how difficult it will be for them to preserve their democracies in a winter of probable cold and hunger. Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate the importance of providing time now for the Government to give an undertaking not to reduce aid to such countries so that the Government will not have to say, after those countries have returned to misery and extremism, "We should have helped them more"?

Mr. Newton

I note what the hon. and learned Gentleman says and I appreciate the reason why he felt it right to raise the issue again. I cannot add to what I said earlier to his Front-Bench colleague, the hon. Member for Derby, South (Mrs. Beckett).

Mr. Richard Shepherd (Aldridge-Brownhills)

As it would appear that it is genuinely the Government's intention to continue with the legislation on the Queen as a citizen of the union of Europe, perhaps we could have a debate on the constitutional consequences of the sovereign authority of this country being the Queen in Parliament and the effects on that of the Queen now being reduced to the status of citizen.

Mr. Newton

As my hon. Friend will know, I do not accept the interpretation that he places on these matters. There will be an opportunity to make those points when we have the debate to which I have referred.

Mr. Max Madden (Bradford, West)

Is the Leader of the House aware that there will be widespread dismay that the Government are reintroducing asylum legislation and extending it to abolish rights of appeal against immigration decisions? Does he understand that many will suspect that that legislation is being brought forward to divert and distract public attention from the Government's disarray and economic incompetence?

Will the right hon. Gentleman make the necessary arrangements for the members of the Standing Committee—I hope to be one of them—to be able to make visits, including visits to Heathrow, to see the disgraceful conditions in which those fleeing war and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia are treated, and enable those with professional expertise and experience in these matters to present evidence direct to the Committee?

Mr. Newton

I think that the hon. Gentleman will find that, rather than taking the attitude that he has suggested, the country will regard the Government's proposals as entirely in line with our long-standing commitment to firm but fair control of immigration and related matters. That is the purpose of the Bill, and that is what I believe it will secure. As for the rest of the hon. Gentleman's observations, they, too, are matters that he might legitimately raise if he is fortunate enough to catch your eye, Madam Speaker, during the debate that will take place in 10 days' time.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)

Is it not clear from the replies of the Leader of the House to his hon. Friends about the debate on Maastricht that the Government intend not to assess the opinion of the House but to force a majority vote—no doubt the same way as yesterday—by means of arm twisting? Are the Government generally, and especially the right hon. Gentleman, aware that since the summer recess there has undoubtedly been a substantial increase in the number of people who are opposed to Maastricht? In my opinion, an overwhelming majority of the British people—this could be tested by a referendum—do not want the treaty. Why are the Government going ahead, particularly at a time of acute economic crisis?

Mr. Newton

My assessment is rather different. I believe that it has become much clearer during the past three months that there is widespread support around Europe for the approach that the Government adopted to negotiations on Maastricht and the emphasis that we placed on developments through co-operation between Governments rather than centralised Community institutions and through the key concept of subsidiarity.

Several Hon. Members


Madam Speaker

We now move on to the statement from the Chancellor of the Exchequer.