The Government have ring-fenced health and overseas aid. Is there not another item that has been ring-fenced? It is our net contribution to the European Union, which is £6.7 billion this year. Would the Minister agree that if that were reduced by 20 per cent, it would enable 55,000 more nurses, policemen or teachers to be employed? Should our country not come first rather than subsidising other countries?Whether we really do want all those extra nurses, policemen and teachers is a separate issue. But our contribution to the EU Budget has not only been ring-fenced, it is actually set to increase.
I can't say that Lord Sassoon's response filled me with any great cheer:
I thank the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, for a question that reminds us that we are working extremely hard as a nation to live within our means. It is equally important that within Europe the European Union also lives within its means. The Government will be doing everything they can to make sure that proper financial discipline is applied to the European budget this year and for the next spending period. I do not know, but I have a sense-I might like to ask on the subject-that the Labour Members of the European Parliament were today voting to allow the European Union to have its own tax-raising powers to fund a separate pot of money. The present Government want to see proper discipline applied to European Union expenditure.It really is time members of Her Majesty's Government and, indeed, all politicians realized that as far as the
In the meantime, the Boy-King has realized that this might be quite a difficult issue and has come out
First of all, as the Boss has pointed out, if we get away from the headline, what we actually get is:
Dismissing calls for extra money from British taxpayers as “outrageous”, he said he would lead a rebellion to force the EU to make cuts in line with those being made by national governments.Oh wizard! He will lead a rebellion? He and whose army of rebels? And how is he going to lead it after the Toy Parliament has already passed the increase?
How the EU Budget is decided is, like everything else, defined in the Treaties. Article 314 [scroll down]states:
The European Parliament and the Council, acting in accordance with a special legislative procedure, shall establish the Union's annual budget in accordance with the following provisions.I think we can say with some justification that the Boss over on EURef is absolutely correct. The chances of the Boy-King actually doing anything about this are similar to my chances of being asked to dance the lead in the next production of Swan Lake at Covent Garden. The real question is does he know this? Has he read Article 314 and does he understand it? In other words, we are asking that old old question: is he a knave or a fool or a combination of the two?
1. With the exception of the European Central Bank, each institution shall, before 1 July, draw up estimates of its expenditure for the following financial year. The Commission shall consolidate these estimates in a draft budget. which may contain different estimates. The draft budget shall contain an estimate of revenue and an estimate of expenditure.
2. The Commission shall submit a proposal containing the draft budget to the European Parliament and to the Council not later than 1 September of the year preceding that in which the budget is to be implemented. The Commission may amend the draft budget during the procedure until such time as the Conciliation Committee, referred to in paragraph 5, is convened.
3. The Council shall adopt its position on the draft budget and forward it to the European Parliament not later than 1 October of the year preceding that in which the budget is to be implemented. The Council shall inform the European Parliament in full of the reasons which led it to adopt its position.
4. If, within forty-two days of such communication, the European Parliament:
(a) approves the position of the Council, the budget shall be adopted;
(b) has not taken a decision, the budget shall be deemed to have been adopted;
(c) adopts amendments by a majority of its component members, the amended draft shall be forwarded to the Council and to the Commission. The President of the European Parliament, in agreement with the President of the Council, shall immediately convene a meeting of the Conciliation Committee. However, if within ten days of the draft being forwarded the Council informs the European Parliament that it has approved all its amendments, the Conciliation Committee shall not meet.
5. The Conciliation Committee, which shall be composed of the members of the Council or their representatives and an equal number of members representing the European Parliament, shall have the task of reaching agreement on a joint text, by a qualified majority of the members of the Council or their representatives and by a majority of the representatives of the European Parliament within twenty-one days of its being convened, on the basis of the positions of the European Parliament and the Council. The Commission shall take part in the Conciliation Committee's proceedings and shall take all the necessary initiatives with a view to reconciling the positions of the European Parliament and the Council.
6. If, within the twenty-one days referred to in paragraph 5, the Conciliation Committee agrees on a joint text, the European Parliament and the Council shall each have a period of fourteen days from the date of that agreement in which to approve the joint text.
7. If, within the period of fourteen days referred to in paragraph 6:
(a) the European Parliament and the Council both approve the joint text or fail to take a decision, or if one of these institutions approves the joint text while the other one fails to take a decision, the budget shall be deemed to be definitively adopted in accordance with the joint text; or
(b) the European Parliament, acting by a majority of its component members, and the Council both reject the joint text, or if one of these institutions rejects the joint text while the other one fails to take a decision, a new draft budget shall be submitted by the Commission; or
(c) the European Parliament, acting by a majority of its component members, rejects the joint text while the Council approves it, a new draft budget shall be submitted by the Commission; or
(d) the European Parliament approves the joint text whilst the Council rejects it, the European Parliament may, within fourteen days from the date of the rejection by the Council and acting by a majority of its component members and three-fifths of the votes cast, decide to confirm all or some of the amendments referred to in paragraph 4(c). Where a European Parliament amendment is not confirmed, the position agreed in the Conciliation Committee on the budget heading which is the subject of the amendment shall be retained. The budget shall be deemed to be definitively adopted on this basis.
8. If, within the twenty-one days referred to in paragraph 5, the Conciliation Committee does not agree on a joint text, a new draft budget shall be submitted by the Commission.
9. When the procedure provided for in this Article has been completed, the President of the European Parliament shall declare that the budget has been definitively adopted.
10. Each institution shall exercise the powers conferred upon it under this Article in compliance with the Treaties and the acts adopted thereunder, with particular regard to the Union's own resources and the balance between revenue and expenditure.