Richard North, 15/06/2005  

Yesterday in the House of Lords, Lord Barnett, not known as a eurosceptic (au contraire) asked Her Majesty's Government:
What progress they have made in the current negotiations on the European Union budget?
On behalf of HMG, Lord McKenzie of Luton (no I don't recall either who he is) replied:
My Lords, the Government are currently negotiating both the annual budget and the next financial perspective. In both areas the Government are working effectively with like-minded member states to ensure budget discipline and value-added for spending at EU level. Other member states have taken a keen interest in the UK's ideas and we are confident that the negotiations will result in an outcome in the best interests of both the UK and the EU.
This sort of thing may go down in the House of Commons but not, dear reader, in the Upper Chamber. Lord Barnett was unimpressed:
My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that Answer and appreciate that it is difficult for the Treasury to find short answers to say nothing. Would not the simple answer to my Question have been, "Not a lot"?
The rest of the discussion was not particularly interesting except for the extraordinary fact that Baroness Ludford MEP again informed the assembled Chamber that the CAP would have been different, had Britain been part of the EEC from the beginning. One does not expect much from MEPs, particularly Lib-Dim ones, but the occasional hour could be spent on reading books and garnering information.

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