HC Deb 26 July 1999 vol 336 c12W
Mr. Bercow

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment she has made of reports of alleged Commission fraud made by Dr. Nikolas Alexandrakis; if her Department has investigated these allegations; and if she will make a statement. [92870]

Clare Short

We take fraud against the EC budget very seriously. Specific decisions on fighting EU fraud are a matter for the Chancellor of the Exchequer and are discussed at ECOFIN Council.

I am not aware of the reports by Dr. Alexandrakis. However, the report of the Committee of Independent Experts, which led to the resignation of the Commission in March, revealed a lack of responsibility and accountability in the Commission's handling of external aid spending in the Mediterranean, in emergency aid and in nuclear safety in Eastern Europe. I welcome the report and the shake up which it has triggered. The new Commission and member states must now ensure that fraud and weak controls are rooted out and that EC funds are spent properly and effectively on development and other programmes.