§ Mrs. Liddell
I attended a meeting of the Budget Council yesterday to consider the Council's second reading of the 1998 EC draft budget. As a result, the level of payments in the draft budget has been reduced by approximately 1,1000 million ecu from the European Parliament's first reading. This represents an increase of approximately 1.4 per cent. over the 1997 EC budget, compared with 2.7 per cent. following the Parliament's first reading. The draft budget as amended will now be transmitted to the European Parliament, which will adopt the final budget for 1998 at its second reading in December.