HC Deb 11 March 1987 vol 112 cc208-9W
Mr. Teddy Taylor

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the outcome of the Council of Finance Ministers meeting on 9 March; and if, in particular, he will state whether the Council discussed the opinion of the Court of Auditors that the Commission scheme for spending 3.2 billion European currency units on the emergency disposal of the European Economic Community butter mountain was unlawful.

Mr. Brooke

The EC Economic and Finance Council met in Brussels on 9 March. I represented the United Kingdom.

Following the conclusion of conciliation procedures with the European Parliament, the Council adopted the new Community instrument (NCI IV) to facilitate global loans to small and medium-sized enterprises in non-assisted areas.

The Council reviewed the economic situation in the Community, and agreed that there was no need to change the policy guidelines set out in the 1986–87 annual economic report adopted last December.

The Council discussed again the question of delayed reimbursement to member states of losses incurred on the disposal of butter stocks. The main focus of the discussion was the financial impact of the proposal on Spain and Portugal. The Council asked the Commission to examine the problems raised by these two countries.

The Court of Auditors' opinion on the proposal was on the table for the discussion. I had already made clear at the February meeting of the Council the view that the proposal, while justified by agricultural savings resulting from accompanying measures, should be regarded as exceptional. A similar view was expressed on this occasion by the Commission and other member states.

The Council discussed other issues arising from the European Court of Auditors' report on the 1985 Community budget. The Presidency concluded that

Revision to 1986–87 cash limits resulting from the carryforward of capital underspend in 1985–86 not being required Voted cash limits
Class Vote Accounting Department Description of expenditure Current cash limit £000 Decrease £000 Revised cash limit £000
V 51 Department of Trade and Industry International trade: export credit services, insurance of investment overseas (central services) 43,469 315 43,154
XI 3 Home Office Central, administrative, miscellaneous and community services and civil defence—England and Wales 365,238 2,000 363,238
XVII 5 Welsh Office Civil defence, tourism, roads and transport, housing, other environmental services, education and science, arts and libraries, and centrally funded health services and personal social services, Wales 187,047 787 186,260
XIX 11 Department for National Savings Economic and financial administration 156,977 58 156,919
1 Capital expenditure on this vote is not classified as public expenditure.

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