|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Angela Eagle (Wallasey) (Lab): May I warmly congratulate my right hon. Friend on his skill in bringing to a successful conclusion the EU budget negotiations, and on reaching an agreement that enables the new European Union countriesthe EU 10to have at their disposal during the next budget period a sum twice the size of the post-war Marshall plan in order to develop their countries, which is in all our interests? Could he give me his opinion
The Prime Minister: I thank my hon. Friend for that question and she is right to say that there will be a big transfer of money, but there are other interesting points to note about the central and eastern European countries. For example, my conversations with the Prime Minister of Estonia and with representatives of many of the other central and eastern European countries showed that they believe that they will very quickly become net contributors to the European budget. Their economies are doing extremely well, they are expanding quickly and they are massive economic reformers. What all of them therefore need is this seed corn investment, which allows them to grow quickly. In time, of course, the result will be a massive increase in trade between those countries and this country. That is an example of the way in which the European Union has granted us such prosperity over the years.
Mr. David Curry (Skipton and Ripon) (Con): What steps can the Prime Minister take to ensure that the Doha trade round does not drift into failure in the early months of next year? Can he assure us that the 2008 expenditure review will not prevent the European Union from making a new offer on agricultural subsidies a great deal earlier than that, given that, in the light of world prices, the abolition of export rebates is a relatively low-cost option?
The Prime Minister: I actually think that the opposite is true. Obviously, it is important that we do everything we can to secure progress in the Doha trade round, and that requires action by the European Union, the United States and Japan, as well as by Brazil, India and the other emerging economies. The review allows us to be in the position of saying that we are going to need fundamental reform in order to meet our trade obligations. The Doha round, even if it is fully successful, will not create immediate agricultural reform: it will set that reform out over a period of time. For example, export subsidies will be phased out by 2013. That helps us to get a better deal in the mid-term review for Europe as well as the individual countries.
Jim Sheridan (Paisley and Renfrewshire, North) (Lab): Can my right hon. Friend assure the House that the additional resources afforded to our eastern European partners will not be used, directly, indirectly or through creative accountancy, to undermine this country's manufacturing base?
The Prime Minister: I assure my hon. Friend that the rules that apply mean that the economic development of those countries must take account of the criteria set out for all spending of structural and cohesion funds. However, there is a bigger positive for us. Those countries will increase in wealth and growth quickly, and that will be a market for our manufacturing industry.
Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con):
Would it be a fair summary to say that originally we were not going to give up any of the rebate, then we would give it up only for fundamental reform of the CAP, and now we will give it up to pay for enlargement? If that is not the case, what concrete reforms will there be of the CAP
19 Dec 2005 : Column 1579
before 2013? Would it not have been more honest of the Prime Minister to have come to the House and said that to us six months ago?
The Prime Minister: I have just read out what I said six months ago, and that is not an accurate summary of what I said. The rebate will rise in value and we will receive more back in the rebate in the next financial period than in the last. The rebate will remain on all agricultural spending. The rebate will remain on all spending in the original European 15. But we cannot say that those poorer countries should pay the rebate in respect of the money going to their economic development. Otherwise we would not be doing what I said in June that we should, which is in the meantimebefore the fundamental CAP reform takes placeto pay our fair share of the costs of enlargement. If we had refused to do that, there would have been no budget deal and there would have been crisis in all the central and eastern European states, and we would have been blamed for that. That would not have been very sensible negotiating.
Tony Lloyd (Manchester, Central) (Lab): My right hon. Friend rightly pointed out that our natural allies in central Europe would have felt betrayed by Britain if we had failed to reach a deal. If we had betrayed our own national interest in not getting a deal, with whom would we have negotiated in the European Parliament and with whom would a future Tory Government negotiate in that Parliament?
The Prime Minister: As I understand it, the position of the Opposition is that they would withdraw from the Conservative party grouping in the European Parliament. That would have the most serious repercussions for this country's ability to make its influence felt, which is no doubt why the previous leaders of the Conservative party, including the shadow Foreign Secretary, refused to do it.
Mr. David Heathcoat-Amory (Wells) (Con):
This descent by the Prime Minister from tough talking in advance to concessions and surrender is such a familiar path for his European policy that this latest humiliation is no surprise. But why will we pay twice the amount into a budgetary and control system in Brussels that is so
19 Dec 2005 : Column 1580
riddled with corruption and inefficiency that the auditors have not signed it off for the past 11 years? Was that raised at the summit
The Prime Minister: The right hon. Gentleman and I just have a fundamental disagreement about Europe. I happen to believe that having championed the cause of enlargement it would be absurd for this country to say that we were not prepared to pay for it. That is our position. He apparently wishes to support enlargement but would refuse to have anything to do with paying for it. I would say that that is a ridiculous position. Sometimes it is actually better to have a situation in which we work with our allies to secure a proper deal, which will meanas I said earlierthat France will actually pay more than us in the difference between their net contributions in the next period compared with the last. It is better to do such a deal than to end up alienating every ally in Europe and getting nothing for this country.
Mr. Wayne David (Caerphilly) (Lab): As part of this agreement, west Wales and the Valleys will receive £1.3 billion in structural fund assistance over the next seven years. Does my right hon. Friend agree that that will be a tremendous boost to the Welsh economy?
Mr. Nigel Dodds (Belfast, North) (DUP): I note that the Chancellor has left the Chamber. Is that because he wants to lock the Treasury against further raids by the Prime Minister or is it to find the £7 billion? Can the Prime Minister assist the Chancellor and the House by telling us which areas of public expenditure will be targeted for cuts as a result of his largesse in Brussels?
The Prime Minister:
From what the hon. Gentleman is saying and from what the Conservatives are saying, they would not pay anything towards the costs of enlargement[Interruption.] The Conservative party really has to understand that there is a choice. If we agree with enlargement, and if we agree that enlargement means a transfer from the wealthy to the poor, given that we are a wealthy country, I simply ask in all logic: how can they say that all other wealthy countries should pay but we should not? That is not a sensible position.
19 Dec 2005 : Column 1579
19 Dec 2005 : Column 1581
The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Charles Clarke): I am delighted that we are in a position today, as promised, to hold a debate in Government time on the police restructuring being considered, and which will cover all parts of the country.
I want to emphasise that the debate is wholly informed by the needs of modern policing and the need to build strong and secure communities. That is the start and end point of the process that we have set out and I shall give more detail during our discussions. Central to the approach is the issue of local support for the police and the consent and accountability of the local police, which have for centuries characterised policing in this country. I believe that our proposals strengthen rather than weaken those aspects.
I begin with the rationale for change. Members on both sides of the House will recognise that the nature of crime is changing. It is the duty of Government to ensure that our police service is equipped to protect the public and business from serious criminality as well as to provide effective neighbourhood policing. Both are increasingly related to each other in our modern society and both need structure.
That is why the issue is not simply about redrawing the boundaries on a map, but about fundamental change in our approach to what Her Majesty's inspectorate of constabulary termed protective services, by which the inspectors mean such things as serious and organised crime, counter-terrorism and handling major incidents without detriment to local policing. Protecting the public requires the police and others to predict and prevent rather than merely to react to serious criminality. That requires different approaches to policing from the traditional methods and gives particular priority to intelligence, which is at the core of dealing with serious and organised crime.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|