My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.
The Question was as follows:
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will take steps to ensure that prior to any meeting of the Council of Ministers of the European Communities convened to propose an increase of the Community's own resources from the rate of 1.4 per cent. as agreed in Article 3 (para. 2) of the Council decision (85/257/EEC Euratom) of 7th May 1985 to 1.6 per cent. on 1st January 1988 as envisaged in para. 9 of the preamble to that decision they will seek the consent of Parliament, with due debate, for any such increase or change either above or below the 1.6 per cent. referred to.
My Lords, under the terms of the Treaty of Rome, the system of own resources cannot be changed without the approval of the British Parliament.
My Lords, in those circumstances, I take it that the noble Lord is able to give me a direct reply to my Question regarding whether the British Parliament will be consulted. That being the case, will the noble Lord take note of the fact that the sentiments currently being expressed about a revision to the Community's own resources as enshrined in the original directive were precisely the same farcical explanations that were given prior to the meeting at Fontainebleau itself? Will he take due note of that and also of the use of creative accounting and figure fiddling by the European Commission?
My Lords, I am not entirely clear about what is meant by the noble Lord's phrase "creative accounting" in that context. There is a very carefully set out and complicated formula for calculating the contributions to the Community budget. In answer to the noble Lord's first Question, I think I should further confirm that, under the Treaty of Rome, the own resources system, which is defined in a Council decision, can only be changed following both unanimous agreement by the Council and subsequent adoption by Member States according to their own constitutional requirements. In this country, that means approval by Parliament.
My Lords, will there be a debate before the decision is made by the Government and becomes reflected in the Council's proceedings?
My Lords, that would be a matter for the usual channels at that time. However, I have good news for the noble Lord, in that a debate in your Lordships' House on the report on financing the Community produced by your Lordships' Select Committee on the European Communities will take place on Monday, 9th November. He is no doubt aware of that.