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Council Of Ministers

Volume 886: debated on Wednesday 19 February 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will state any changes in the provisional agenda of the Council of Ministers which he announced on 29th January last.

The agendas of the meetings of the Council during February have closely followed my forecast. The main additions were the budgetary powers of the European Assembly and the Regional Policy Committee discussed by the Foreign Affairs Council. The main items which now seem unlikely to be discussed are the "stocktaking" report on the CAP and the draft Regulation on European Monetary Co-operation.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that information. Is he aware that of the 13 items discussed only three were discussed in the House before those meetings? In pursuance of our manifesto, which stated that the powers of the House would be protected, is my right hon. Friend satisfied that the method of reporting the outcome of these discussions is such that the House can be fully acquainted of what happened and call Ministers to account for their performance at the Council?

As my hon. Friend knows, a Select Committee is examining the procedures. He will recall, from his close study of the subject, that the Government are observing to the letter the assurance we gave about the Scrutiny Committee, its examination, recommendations from it, and debates on those recommendations on the Floor of the House. That has applied during February 1975, as during previous months.

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that he does not expect that at the meetings any issues will be raised in connection with our renegotiations other than those that have already been discussed, and that in particular the general question of sovereignty is not one of the items for renegotiation in them?

My right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary has made clear since his 1st April speech that we had a list of renegotiation objectives, that we could withdraw none of them, but that we did not intend to add to that list. Sovereignty is involved in many of those items. Our intention to obtain assurances about the ability to have the regional policy of our choice is concerned with sovereignty. Where sovereignty is related to our legitimate aims, we shall of course pursue its ensurance, but only in those terms.