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Wednesday, 5 November 2003 - Brussels OJ edition


  Gill (PSE ). Mr President, I should like to refer to some very unpleasant, untruthful and personal remarks made by Mr Balfe following the budget vote in Strasbourg last month. Mr Balfe had demanded an extension of the medical insurance to former Members, which was refused by the Committee on Budgets.

As one of the budget rapporteurs for 2004 I see myself as a servant of this Parliament whose main responsibility is to defend the decisions taken by this House and, in this case, also those of the Budgets Committee. My primary objective has been to ensure that there is value for money for the European taxpayer and a desire to maintain the reputation and the dignity of this House in the eyes of the European public.

First, the accusation by Mr Balfe against me that I have entirely frustrated the decision taken by the Bureau is an accusation against the entire Budgets Committee, because all of his demands were put to the vote.

Second, Mr Balfe made a reference to, and I quote 'the comparatively inexpensive scheme'. This is an astonishing statement given than the initial estimates are far over EUR 1 000 000 and it is costing us EUR 60 000 just for a study to establish the actual figures: hardly peanuts.

Third, with respect to the use by existing Members of current schemes, I have to say that I am completely baffled. Is Mr Balfe suggesting transparency for all Members in the Budgets Committee, or does he want to establish a register for everybody? Is he proposing to amend the current scheme? Surely he is not concerned about the cost! I suggest he puts forward proposals for next year's budget so that we can make whatever amendments are needed.

Finally, in the name of all of my colleagues on the Budgets Committee who I believe take their responsibilities extremely seriously, I would like to say that these allegations are not worthy of someone holding a senior position in this House such as a Quaestor and I believe he brings this House and that office into disrepute.

(Applause from the left)

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