HC Deb 27 November 1996 vol 286 c331
15. Mr. Whittingdale

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what was the total annual cost of the European Parliament in 1995–96; and if he will make a statement. [4600]

Mr. David Davis

The provision for the European Parliament in the 1996 EC budget is 803 million ecu, or £617 million. The provision in the 1995 budget was 843 million ecu, or £648 million. Final outturn figures for 1995 are not yet available.

Mr. Whittingdale

Can my hon. Friend confirm that the figure that he has just given represents approximately £1 million for each Member of the European Parliament? Does he think that that represents value for money?

Mr. Davis

The costs are very high. I find myself in the interesting position of defending the European Parliament on this issue.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton


Mr. Davis

Because, unlike our Parliament, the European Parliament has 11 languages to translate. That is pretty expensive. It also pays rent, which we do not, and must bear travel costs between three locations.

Having said that, I must add that we try at every turn to ensure that we get value for money from all institutions. That is one reason why we gave more powers to the auditors at Maastricht to look into the cost of institutions. It is worth saying that the budget for this year is 5 per cent. down on last year's.

Rev. Martin Smyth

The Minister referred to travel costs. Has there been any suggestion that there should be a Nolan commission to keep a check on MEPs' travel costs? Is any investigation of leakages from any of our Commissioners in Europe going on?

Mr. Davis

The President of the European Parliament, Mr. Hänsch, has taken on board some of the points made in the press and on television recently, and has undertaken to investigate them and resolve the matter. He obviously does not want the European Parliament to fall into disrepute.

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