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Council Of Ministers (Meetings)

Volume 21: debated on Wednesday 31 March 1982

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asked the Lord Privy Seal what additional meetings have been arranged by the Council of Ministers of the European Economic Community for the months of April or May; and for what purposes.

The forecast of business for the month of April was placed in the Library of the House on 29 March. In May it is expected that there will be meetings of the Agriculture, Steel, Social Affairs, Finance, Fiscal, Foreign Affairs and Energy Councils. As I told the House on 24 March, Foreign Ministers are to meet on 3 April to carry forward their discussions on the mandate.

Will the Lord Privy Seal confirm that it is the Government's intention that, whatever arithmetical agreement is reached, there will be a review clause at the end of the determined period? If so, is it satisfactory that we must renew our contribution to the EEC on a lease every four years?

We believe that a settlement of the problem should be for a period of five years, or more if we can get it. However, I agree that a review at the end of whatever period is determined is essential.

To what extent can I pass on to my constituents who are engaged in fishing an assurance from my right hon. Friend that something will be resolved definitely in the next nine months to protect their interests and prevent them from losing their livelihood by the end of that period?

I hope that the matter will be resolved. As my hon. Friend knows, we are awaiting the Commission's proposals on the total allowable catches and quotas, which I hope will be forthcoming soon.

Will the Government give an unequivocal assurance that there will be no question of further cutting Britain's capacity to make steel at the proposed Steel Council meeting?