Select Committee on European Communities Seventeenth Report


42. COMMISSION REPORT ON THE FUNCTIONING OF COMMUNITY PRODUCT AND CAPITAL MARKETS, PRESENTED IN RESPONSE TO THE CONCLUSIONS OF THE CARDIFF EUROPEAN COUNCIL ON THE ECONOMIC REFORM PROCESS (5474/98)

Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee, to Lord Simon of Highbury, Minister for Trade and Competitiveness in Europe, Department of Trade and Industry

  At its meeting on 2 March, Sub-Committee A (Economic and Financial Affairs, Trade and External Relations) considered this document, with the help of your Explanatory Memorandum of 22 February.

  We have cleared the document, but we consider that the handling has been unfortunate. We were told by HM Treasury that the paper was to be presented as a background paper to the 8 February meeting of ECOFIN, that it would be substantively considered at the 25 February Internal Market Council, and that you would be submitting an Explanatory Memorandum in advance of that Council. You will appreciate that, by not sending an Explanatory Memorandum until 22 February, you made it impossible for Sub-Committee A to consider the document before it was discussed at the Council. I should be grateful for an assurance that in future you will ensure that your Department deals speedily with European documents in order to leave time for proper scrutiny.

8 March 1999

Letter from Lord Simon of Highbury, Minister for Trade and Competitiveness in Europe, Department of Trade and Industry, to Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee

  Thank you for your letter of 8 March about scrutiny of the European Commission's report on product and capital markets (5474/98).

  I am grateful to the Committee for its clearance of this document, which formed an important part of the background to our discussions at the 25 February Internal Market Council. I am therefore particularly sorry that we did not give you enough time to consider it before the Council itself. There was a great deal of activity by the officials concerned in the period immediately before the Council in preparing conclusions on economic reform and insufficient attention was given to the timing of the Explanatory Memorandum.

  Whilst I agree that we could have handled the scrutiny of this particular report rather better, I can assure you that my Department does aim to ensure that European documents are dealt with sufficiently quickly in order to leave time for proper scrutiny. We will however be increasing our efforts in this regard by tightening up our internal procedures and issuing new guidance to officials. These measures will be aimed, in particular, at enabling better anticipation of scrutiny requirements and ensuring that Memoranda on such fast-moving issues are dealt with as quickly as possible in the run up to future Councils.

22 March 1999

Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee, to Lord Simon of Highbury, Minister for Trade and Competitiveness in Europe, Department of Trade and Industry

  Thank you for your letter of 22 March, apologising for the delay in submitting the Explanatory Memorandum on this document, and explaining why it occurred. We do appreciate that there is a lot of pressure in the period leading up to Councils, and we are therefore particularly grateful for your assurance that more attention will be given to the timing of scrutiny matters in future.

20 April 1999


 
previous page contents next page

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries

© Parliamentary copyright 1999