HC Deb 03 April 1996 vol 275 cc359-60W
Mr. Amess

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his written answer to the hon. Member for Gateshead, East (Ms Quin) on 6 February.Official Report, column 178, if the European Commission has provided a justification for expenditure without legal authority following the Government's inquiry about the legal basis of their funding for projects seeking to combat social exclusion. [25182]

Mr. Lilley

The European Commission has not provided a legal justification for these particular expenditure plans, made without the approval of the Council of Ministers. The Government have therefore this week made an application to the European Court of Justice challenging the legal basis of this expenditure. We believe that other member states share our concern. Commission proposals for a further Community spending programme on social exclusion projects were previously blocked in the Council of Ministers by Germany and the UK.

The challenge is not aimed at stopping sensibly planned funding in support of disadvantaged people. The Government are already funding many projects to combat social exclusion in the UK through inner city challenge, adult training, health care, housing and literacy programmes.