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Policy Co-Ordination

Volume 21: debated on Wednesday 31 March 1982

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asked the Lord Privy Seal if he plans to pay an official visit to the European Economic Community Commission in Brussels to discuss policy coordination matters.

I paid an official visit to the Commission in October last year. I have no immediate plans for another formal visit, although I regularly meet the President and other members of the Commission in the course of normal Community business.

Although a fair and proper resolution of our budgetary problems is essential and must be obtained as soon as possible, does my right hon. Friend not agree that it is remarkable that even Labour Party spokesmen accept that if we scrap CAP aid our domestic farm prices support system would cost over £2 billion?

Will my right hon. Friend advise the House whether, as of today, we have received full reimbursement of the moneys due under last year's European budget?

We have received nearly all our money. I believe that a small amount remains to be paid, but we should receive it soon.

Without anticipating what the right hon. Lady the Prime Minister will say, can the Lord Privy Seal tell the House whether the Government are turning their attention formally to what is likely to happen if the French dig in their heels, if we do not reach an agreement on the budget, and if—rightly—we do not agree to the farm price increases without an agreement on the budget? What are the Government likely to do? Is he aware that so long as the Government stand firm, the Opposition will support them? We do not want any backing down whatever on this question.

I take note of what the hon. Gentleman says, and I am always grateful for his support. I shall not give him details of any plans that we might have in mind if there were a total breakdown in the discussions, because it is our hope and belief that there will not be such a breakdown.