HC Deb 26 July 1979 vol 971 cc352-3W
Mr. Grieve

asked the Attorney-General what progress has been made in regard to the proposals submitted by the European Court of Justice to the Council of the European Communities in documents R/2075/78 and 4679/79 for measures intended to improve the efficient functioning of the court.

The Attorney-General

Amendment of the rules of procedure designed to lead to a more rapid disposal of the mounting work load of the court were submitted for the Council's agreement earlier this month in a form approved after joint deliberations of representatives of the court and experts of the member States. Unless these amendments can be brought into operation at the beginning of the European Court's next judicial year—which starts in September—they will not have their desired effect. The backlog of cases will increase with harmful consequences for all concerned. Her Majesty's Government have therefore expressed their willingness to agree to these procedural amendments which are expected to be finally agreed by the Council later this week. As the Select Committee on European legislation has recommended that the two documents submitted by the court should be debated by the House, I took steps two weeks ago and before our agreement was notified in Brussels to explain to the chairman of that Committee the need for an urgent decision because I considered that it would not be justifiable to hold up approval of the procedural amendments until after the recess, that being the earliest date when a debate could be arranged. Other and more weighty proposals made by the court in the two documents referred to relate to increases in the number of judges and advocates-general. On this no decision has been taken and none will be taken until a debate has taken place.