HC Deb 10 January 1996 vol 269 cc192-3
4. Mr. David Marshall

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next plans to visit the European Parliament to discuss developments in the European Union. [6841]

Mr. David Davis

My right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary hopes to visit the European Parliament in the first half of 1996.

Mr. Marshall

The Government have said that they wish the European Parliament to concentrate on tackling fraud and waste in the European budget. When the Secretary of State next visits the European Parliament, will he therefore explain why he is opposing the proposals to allow Members of the European Parliament to amend wasteful agricultural spending, which accounts for the majority of fraud in the European budget and adds an estimated £20 a week to the tax and food bill of an average family of four in this country? How does opposing such a measure accord with Britain's national interest?

Mr. Davis

The hon. Gentleman makes an extraordinary presumption about which way the European Parliament would vote on such matters. It has not exactly been inclined to vote in favour of economy in the past. We have criticised the European Parliament in the past for not using the powers that it has. It has just commissioned its temporary commission of inquiry, and we commend it for that.

Mr. Cash

What will the Government's policy be with regard to the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General, which has been placed in the Library of the House of Commons, regarding fraud in the European Community, and the recommendation of improvement in the scrutiny processes that that report contains? Will he also consider whether we shall have a White Paper in the near future?

Mr. Davis

My hon. Friend attempts to pre-empt another hon. Member's question later on the Order Paper, and I shall answer that in due course. My hon. Friend knows that we have been vigorous in opposition to the items that cause fraud and in promoting measures to tackle fraud, and we shall continue with that vigour in future.

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