Select Committee on European Communities Seventeenth Report


37.  RECONSTRUCTION IN CENTRAL AMERICA FOLLOWING HURRICANE MITCH (8695/99)

Letter from the Rt Hon Clare Short MP, Secretary of State for International Development, Department for International Development, to Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee

   I am writing to inform you that I intend to support the adoption of Council Conclusions on Reconstruction in Central America following Hurricane Mitch but regret that I need to do so before your Committee has had a chance to undertake scrutiny on the Commission Communication on which the text is based.

  The Communication on Reconstruction in Central America following Hurricane Mitch describes the destruction caused by Hurricane Mitch in October 98, the role of the international community in assisting afterwards, and the EC's broad plans for providing further assistance. DFID has considered the Communication carefully and is content that it provides a good basis for the EC to operate on.

  The Communication clearly falls within the criteria of EC business covered by Parliamentary Scrutiny. However, the English language version of the text only become available to DFID on 11 May and the Presidency proposed that Conclusions welcoming the Communication and broadly endorsing the Commission's plans should be adopted at both the General Affairs Council (GAC) on 17 May and the Development Council on 21 May. As this did not leave sufficient time to submit an EM and complete scrutiny prior to the Development Council, my officials immediately contacted your Clerks to discuss the course proposed in this letter.

  The UK adopted the Conclusions at the GAC on 17 May and I am planning to adopt those tabled for the Development Council on 21 May before your Committee has had an opportunity to scrutinise the Communication for two reasons. Firstly, for political reasons, the UK does not want to hold up the endorsement of the Conclusions (particularly in view of the consideration of this issue at the Ministerial Conference in San Jose« on 20 May). Secondly, because the conclusions are consistent with UK policy and are uncontentious. (I am very sorry that inefficiency in the Commission has led to my failure to inform you of these proposals earlier.)

  I regret that circumstances have prevented your Committee considering the Communication before the adoption of the conclusions. I will of course submit an EM on the Communication shortly.

21 May 1999

Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee, to the Rt Hon Clare Short MP, Secretary of State for International Development, Department for International Development

  Thank you for your letter of 21 May, explaining why you were supporting Conclusions endorsing this Communication even though the Communication itself had not cleared scrutiny. We understand why the Government felt the need to do this, and we have now cleared the document from scrutiny.

22 June 1999


 
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