HC Deb 06 December 1994 vol 251 cc157-8 4.20 pm
Mr. William Cash (Stafford)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. In connection with the Council's own resources decision and the European Communities (Finance) Bill, which we shall consider tomorrow, I thought that you would be interested in the following account.

In April 1994 the Select Committee on European Legislation considered the own resources decision that was about to be made, and, against the background of the Government's explanatory memorandum as provided by the Paymaster General of the day, in paragraph 10.5 of our report we wrote: In the light of the Paymaster General's account of the Government's position and the conclusions already reached in the Council, we do not feel that there is practical advantage in further consideration of this proposal. We take it that, as unanimity is required, this amended proposal cannot be proceeded with in the face of the Government's opposition. If this amended proposal were to be further changed, we would expect a further round of Scrutiny to be initiated. Were the Government to change its view on the present unamended proposal we would expect to be informed before any decision were taken in the Council. As you will know, Madam Speaker, a resolution of the House dated October 1990 clearly says that there would not in any reasonable circumstances be any removal of a reserve imposed by resolution of the House through the Select Committee on European Legislation, if a matter of such importance were to be considered in the Council of Ministers.

I believe that there was no such reference back to the Select Committee before the Chancellor of the Exchequer went to Brussels and agreed to what had been decided by other member states on the own resources decision. I should therefore be glad if you, Madam Speaker, considered that point. It seems to me that there has been a prima facie breach of the resolution of the House of October 1990.

Madam Speaker

I am interested in the hon. Gentleman's point of order, but it seems to me to be a matter of interest rather than material for a point of order. It is something that the hon. Gentleman might raise in debate—tomorrow perhaps—to extract a reply from the Government Front Bench.

Mr. Ian Bruce (South Dorset)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Earlier today the Government announced the single regeneration budget, which I believe is about £4 billion over the next three years. The Department of the Environment has written to every hon. Member—either to all 651 of us or at least to all those affected—to tell us the good news, but, unfortunately, because of the volume of the document, the House authorities have not been able to distribute the information through the Members' notice board, and most hon. Members do not know that the document is tucked away near the office of the Liberal Democrats.

I wonder whether you, Madam Speaker, could look into the matter. I have already spoken to the Deputy Serjeant at Arms and asked him to ensure that the material is distributed, so that in future we can all be given such good news. It must be good news when £2.7 million is to come to Portland, in my constituency, to help regenerate jobs.

Madam Speaker

The hon. Gentleman appears to be behaving like Pat the Post. I am sure that the Serjeant at Arms, who normally takes care of such matters, will ensure that the document is distributed as soon as possible. Copies for 651 Members represent a great volume of mail for our board to deal with, and I am sure that it will all be distributed as speedily as possible.