HC Deb 16 January 1979 vol 960 cc727-9W

Mr. Lee asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer by what percentages the United Kingdom Government budgeting contributions to the Common Market budgets have increased in each successive year from the first such budget until the most recent.

Mr. Joel Barnett: The provisions relating to the new member States' contributions to the European Communities' budget from 1973 to 1979 are laid down in articles 129 to 131 of the Treaty of Accession. The United Kingdom's percentage shares of contributions to the 1973 to 1977 budget have been as follows:

per cent.
1973 8.7809
1974 11.0366
1975 13.5691
1976 16.3010
1977 19.2414

Up to 1977 the budget was drawn up in budget units of account (ua) based on fixed IMF parities; thus conversions into sterling were made at the rate of 2.4 ua to £1, not current market rates. The above percentages are calculated on that unit of account basis.

From 1978 the budget is drawn up in European units of account (EUA), the value of which is dependent on the daily movement of a basket comprising all member States' currencies. The current sterling value of the EUA is about 1.48 EUA to £1. The change to the market- related EUA therefore has the effect of reducing the United Kingdom's percentage share of contributions calculated on a unit of account basis although our effective share continues to rise with the phasing out of the transitional arrangements. Until the accounts are closed, the United Kingdom's percentage contribution to the 1978 budget cannot be calculated precisely, but it is likely to be a little over 15 per cent.

Mr. Lee

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer by what percentage the agricultural support element of the Common Market budget has increased or decreased year by year since the date of the United Kingdom's accession to the latest available date.

Mr. Joel Barnett

The actual expenditure on the guarantee section of the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund as a percentage of total Community budget expenditure from 1973 to 1977 is as follows:

1973 79.3
1974 72.5
1975 75.2
1976 73.6
1977 74.2

The estimated percentage for 1978 is 70.3.

Mr. Spearing asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list in the Official Report the various stages in the progress of the EEC budget to date, specifying the main changes made by the Assembly and Council, respectively, and the position now reached under article 204 of the Treaty of Rome.

Mr. Joel Barnett: On 20th July the Budget Council established the draft general budget of the European Communities for 1979; I reported to the House in my answer of 25 h July to my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mr. Cant). On 20th November the Budget Council considered the amendments and modifications proposed to the draft budget by the European Parliament ; in my reply of 24th November to my hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, South (Mr. Perry) I gave details of the Parliament's proposals and of the decisions of the Council on them. Further meetings of the Budget Council were held on 5th and 12th December and I reported to the House on these on 15th December in my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich, West (Miss Boothroyd). In this latter statement I referred to the hope expressed by the Budget Council that it would be possible for agreement to be reached with the European Parliament on a new maximum rate so that the Parliament would be able to declare the Community budget for 1979 finally adopted.

On 14th December the President of the European Parliament declared the budget finally adopted; the Parliament had made no amendments to the draft budget as agreed by the 20th November Council and had reached no agreement with the Council on a new maximum rate.

On 18th December the Budget Council agreed the text of a letter to the Parliament pointing out that the Council did not think that the adoption of the budget complied with the provisions of the treaty, and suggesting that if the Parliament wished the dialogue between the Council and the Parliament could be continued.

The Council will be giving further consideration to the implications of this situation. Her Majesty's Government are concerned to uphold the authority of the Council in its relations with the Parliament, and are also concerned about the practical functioning of the Community, including in the budgetary field.

Mr. Lee

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the attitude of Her Majesty's Government to the increased Common Market budget provisions for 1979 approved by the Common Market Assembly on 14th December 1978.

Mr. Joel Barnett

I refer to my reply today to the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing).

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