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European Summit (Milan)

Volume 82: debated on Monday 1 July 1985

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3.30 pm

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. As you know, this morning I asked whether I could put down a private notice question—

On a different subject entirely, Mr. Speaker. As you will know, at the weekend in Milan our Prime Minister was subjected to full-frontal federalism by other European Governments. Later this evening we shall have an important debate on European matters. We are fortunate to have the Leader of the House in the Chamber with us. In view of the dramatic events of the weekend and the radical nature of some of the proposals that have been made it is essential, before proceeding with this evening's business, that the House has a report from the Prime Minister, the Leader of the House or someone else about what took place at the weekend. If not, it will be impossible for us, in the changed situation, to make the speeches that we would be able to make if we knew the true circumstances of what happened at the weekend. Will the Leader of the House say something about this?

Yes, Sir. I wonder whether you would ask someone from the Government to say whether the Prime Minister proposes to make a statement about what happened at Milan. We are all anxious to know the Government's attitude towards the sadly unsuccessful summit. We all know that the Dooge report was sent to be approved by the Government 10 days ago. Many of our European allies came forward with proposals based upon the Dooge report, but, to our amazement, the British Government opposed those who support the Dooge report—

Order. The hon. Gentleman has frequently mentioned the Government. That has nothing to do with me. He must put a point of order which I can answer.

Perhaps you would be good enough, Mr. Speaker, to cajole some response from the Government. Of course, I shall be guided by your interpretation of your powers, but sometimes our constitution works in curious ways. Although I would not suggest for a moment that you should give a nod or a wink to the Government, it might facilitate later proceedings if we knew something more about the institution for which it is suggested the House of Commons should vote money. I hesitate to say this, but some Conservative Members believe that, with a majority of 140, we should not be arrogant. I know that the Government would never wish to be arrogant and try to bounce the House into voting for something about which it does not know.

Order. I think that is the speech that the hon. Gentleman may make in Committee.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Perhaps you could help the House. We read in the newspapers over the weekend—we often obtain information from newspapers first—that the Prime Minister might make a statement tomorrow on her humiliation in Milan. It might be helpful if a Minister were to make a statement today about the position in the EC, before we debate whether we should give further large sums of money to subsidise this enterprise. The Government may have changed their view, and it would be helpful to the House to hear from them today before the debate on the European Communities (Finance) Bill. Is there any way in which the Government can be invited to make a statement today rather than tomorrow?

It is not open to me to force statements from any quarter. I also saw what the hon. Gentleman read in the newspaper, but I have no knowledge whether there is to be a statement tomorrow, I have had no notification of a statement today.

Order. I do not think that any point of order can arise, because I do not know about any statement being made.

Do you have any control whatever, Mr. Speaker, over the timing of debates, other than those under Standing Order No. 10? I am sure that you would wish the House to be properly informed of the very important EC discussions which took place at the weekend, before we proceed with this evening's debate.

I am riot responsible for the debates that are called on any one day. I am glad to say that that is not one of my responsibilities.