David Cameron mocked by Ed Miliband for abandoning campaign to freeze EU budget
By Tim Montgomerie
David Cameron used his statement to say (1) that the UK had successfully led negotiations which were likely to limit the EU's budget increase to 2.9% and (2) future budget settlements for the EU will be related to the pressures facing individual nation states.
He notes that if the Council of Ministers and European Parliament cannot agree on 2.9% there will be "deadlock" and this year's budget will continue into the next year - an effective freeze.
The Prime Minister also said that his talks with Chancellor Merkel over the weekend have produced ideas for greater transparency in the EU budget so that taxpayers can see how their money is used by European institutions.
On Herman Van Rompuy's economic governance report, Mr Cameron said that the UK was fully exempt from new enforcement measures. Britain would not have to submit more economic information to the EU than it already supplies to, for example, the IMF.
On the EU Treaty amendment sought by Germany, Mr Cameron said that it would exempt Britain from having to bailout the €urozone in future and would improve €urozone governance. Britain would not lose any sovereignty from the amendment and there would be no need, therefore, for a referendum.
Mr Miliband then quoted a number of times in which David Cameron had said he wanted a freeze in the budget. He also said that Conservatives had previously voted against a 2.9% increase. When did he change his mind?, the Labour leader demanded. He wanted to say "no, no, no" to an increase in the EU budget but he ended up with "no, maybe, oh go on then".
Sir Peter Tapsell asks, mischievously, if a German Chancellor can deliver a change to the EU Treaty, it is possible that a British Prime Minister can also deliver a Treaty change? The PM replies that he decided that the priority for Britain should be budget restraint from the EU and he had delivered that.
Charles Kennedy, Ming Campbell and Dennis MacShane praise Cameron for his pragmatic approach to engagement with the EU. Richard Ottaway, Oliver Heald and Alan Haselhurst congratulate the PM on his achievements.
Edward Leigh suggest that MEPs be subject to the IPSA regime so that, even if they receive the same money, life will be a lot more miserable for them.
Answering a question from Peter Bone, the Prime Minister blasts Tony Blair for agreeing to surrender part of Margaret Thatcher's rebate in return for a review of the Common Agricultural Policy that came to nothing.
David Cameron rejects an in/out referendum in response to a question from Kate Hoey.
Chris Heaton-Harris asks the Prime Minister to confirm that he has the ability to veto the Merkel Treaty amendment. The Prime Minister confirms that he has this veto but says that because it is only a limited amendment and Britain has an interest in it passing because Britain benefits if the €urozone is a success.