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Community Legislation

Volume 984: debated on Wednesday 14 May 1980

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asked the Lord Privy Seal what action he has taken or proposes to take, consequent on the First Special Report of the Select Committee on EEC legislation (HC 543) relating to EEC instruments not deposited in the House.

My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House and I have discussed this report. We accept that the Committee should be informed as promptly as possible of legislative proposals. Further representations are being made in Brussels to try and improve the service. We shall also ensure, wherever possible, that when no depositable document is produced before a legislative proposal is considered by the Council, the Scrutiny Committee is kept fully informed by use of unnumbered explanatory memoranda.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman accept that there has been a breach of the undertaking, in that a statutory instrument has been made by this House when no document on which it is based has gone to the Scrutiny Committee? Will the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that Her Majesty's Government will not in future assent to any directive or regulation in the Council of Ministers until they have a document from the Council which can be put before the Scrutiny Committee of this House, in accordance with their undertakings?

With all respect to the hon. Gentleman who, I know, takes a close interest in these matters, I think that my first answer went fairly far towards meeting his point. We accept that there is a difficulty. We are trying to deal with it. The hon. Gentleman knows that there are occasional difficulties when we have to proceed. We shall do our best to see that there is an adequate document whenever we discuss matters.

Will the Lord Privy Seal look at the Danish system, whereby Ministers are required to come back to the Danish Parliament with detailed propositions before they are decided upon in the Council of Ministers? We would like the right hon. Gentleman, if he is to deposit documents, to make sure that they are deposited in good time.

We would, of course, like documents to be deposited in good time but each Parliament has its various customs. In this matter, I do not intend to suggest to the House that we should follow the Danish example.

The right hon. Gentleman did not answer the question put by my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) or his supplementary question. The right hon. Gentleman was asked whether he would state to those in the so-called European Parliament and to these so-called Europeans that we would refuse to carry out any directives unless the papers and documents, are put to the Committee. Will he not simply do his best? Will he tell them that?