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Disciplinary Procedures

Volume 984: debated on Wednesday 14 May 1980

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asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will publish the memorandum by Sir Roy Denman on disciplinary procedures within the European Economic Commission.

No, Sir. The document in question is, I understand, an internal Commission memorandum prepared as part of the Commission's work on the report by the Spierenburg committee. It is not a matter for Her Majesty's Government.

But as the Prime Minister is so keen on reducing the number of civil servants, and as Sir Roy Denman says that they cannot be dismissed in Brussels even if they are dead drunk all day, what will the right hon. Gentleman do about it?

That extract from the report is clearly grist to the right hon. Gentleman's mill, but as he will be aware, what Sir Roy Denman was saying was that there was security of tenure in Brussels, virtually whatever happened. There may well be too many bureaucrats in Brussels, but compared with, say, the Scottish Office, their number is not great.

While it may not be appropriate for the Government to publish the Denman report, does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that there is considerable, and probably justified, public anxiety about the appointment, terms of reference, general disciplinary procedures and terms of employment of those employed by the Commission? Is he satisfied that they are up to at least the standards in the British Civil Service? If not, what will he do about it?

I did not know that there was anxiety. I should have thought that the general standard of public servants in Brussels was very high.

Would the right hon. Gentleman care to commend staff regulation No. 4 of the European Communities to his own Department and to the home Departments of State? He will recollect, I am sure, that that regulation says that the Commission can take away the pensions of people who take jobs contrary to the wish of the Commission after leaving the service of the Commission. Perhaps he could commend that regulation to the Department of the Industry, for example.

Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether it was on this report that The Daily Telegraph based its article on Monday, pointing out that poor European MPs could not get their £40,000 a year—mostly in expenses—tax-free? Is he aware that many of them, according to the article, are having to apply to their banks for overdrafts? Is it not terrible that these poor people cannot manage on that money?

I was abroad on Monday and did not see the report in The Daily Telegraph. From what the hon. Gentleman said, the newspaper report appears to relate to Members of Parliament. As the Denman report does not relate to Members of Parliament, I think that the connection is unlikely.