HC Deb 21 February 1963 vol 672 cc645-52
Mr. H. Wilson

May I ask the Leader of the House whether he will state the business of the House for next week?

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Iain Macleod)

Yes, Sir. The business for next week will be as follows:

MONDAY, 25TH FEBRUARY—Second Reading of the Television Bill.

Motion on the Motor Vehicles (Tests) (Extension) Order.

TUESDAY, 26TH FEBRUARY—Supply [6th Allotted Day]: Committee.

Civil Estimates and Estimates for Revenue Departments Vote on Account 1963–64.

A debate will take place on Town and Country Planning, at the request of the Opposition.

At seven o'clock, opposed Private Business, set down by the Chairman of Ways and Means.

WEDNESDAY, 27TH FEBRUARY—Second Reading of the Children and Young Persons Bill [Lords], and Committee stage of the Money Resolution.

Consideration of any Lords Amendments to the National Insurance Bill.

THURSDAY, 28TH FEBRUARY—Supply [7th Allotted Day]: Report stage of the Civil Vote on Account.

There will be a debate on Central Africa, at the request of the Opposition. Second Reading of the Purchase Tax Bill [Lords], which is a consolidation Measure.

Motion on the Police Pensions (Amendment) Regulations.

FRIDAY, 1ST MARcH—Private Members' Motions.

MONDAY, 4TH MARCH, and TUESDAY, 5TH MARCH—The proposed business will be: Debate on Defence, on a Government Motion inviting the House to approve the White Paper (Command No. 1936).

Mr. H. Wilson

In preparation for the defence debate, will the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether the House is to have a statement on Government defence policy to study? If he is relying on the Command Paper, giving the sort of catalogue with which we were issued yesterday, will he say whether there was a printer's error which missed out the whole of the defence policy statement, and, if so, what he intends to do about it?

Mr. Macleod

If the Leader of the Opposition takes part in the defence debate, I have no doubt that his contribution will be both as helpful and as ham-handed as his contribution on nationalisation.

Mr. Wilson

So that all Members of the House, including members of his party, who are as concerned about this matter as we are, can make their full contribution to the debate, will the right hon. Gentleman seriously recognise that he has not on this occasion issued the House with any defence policy statement? While we have disagreed with the defence policy statements of previous years, we have at least been given the courtesy of being able to read what it was. Will the right hon. Gentleman tell the House why he has broken with the practice of publishing such a statement and what he intends to do about it between now and the debate?

Mr. Macleod

The White Paper, Cmnd. 1936, has been issued by the Government. We will put down a Motion on it. An Amendment can, no doubt, if wished, be tabled by the Opposition—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer the question."]—and points arising out of that are for the debate itself.

Mr. J. Wells

Can my right hon. Friend tell the House when the debate on the Prison Commission, which is not taking place tonight, will take place?

Mr. Macleod

No, not yet, In view of the representations that were made to me on this matter, I hope to arrange it on a date and time that will be convenient to hon. Members.

Mr. Grimond

Are we to understand from the last but one answer of the right hon. Gentleman that neither the Bahamas agreement, the action of the President of France, nor developments in N.A.T.O. have been considered by the Government and that they have no announcement or proposal to make about defence other than those made last year? If they have, and we are to be left until the opening of the defence debate, the House will be put in difficulty.

Surely, this year, when we have the whole of the Polaris agreement to consider, is a year when we should have had rather more information in advance. The Polaris programme is hardly mentioned in the White Paper, neither are there any suggestions for the defence of the West as a whole.

Mr. Macleod

I understand that point of view, and I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will be able, if he wishes, to develop it in debate. The matter before the House now is the announcement of business for next week. I have included the business for the Monday and Tuesday of the following week and have made it clear that the Government will put down a Motion to approve the White Paper which has been issued.

Mr. Eden

Can my right hon. Friend say when the departmental Service Estimates are likely to come out? Are any likely to be issued during the week of the defence debate? Will he arrange an early debate on space satellite communications for Britain and the Commonwealth? May we have an announcement on this subject before long?

Mr. Macleod

The ordinary Service Estimate debates will follow shortly after the defence debate. I think that it is likely that at least one of the Service Estimates will come out during the week beginning Monday, 4th March. I have no statement to make on the subject of satellite communications as far as next week's business is concerned.

Mr. C. Pannell

The right hon. Gentleman will be aware that we propose to make a start with fresh accommodation for Parliament during the Summer Recess. Is he seized of the need for a continuing Select Committee on Accommodation generally to overlook the provision of accommodation? Is he aware that accommodation projects should not be finished, or even actively engaged upon, until all hon. Members understand what it is all about? Is he also seized of the necessity, as on previous occasions, that hon. Members should have some say about their own accommodation?

Mr. Macleod

Yes, certainly. I am quite clear that we must debate this matter, but—if I can make a point partly specific and partly general on this matter —this is the time of the year in which, more than any other, the business is heavy. We shall soon have the Supply Estimates, the defence debate and the Budget debate, which means that virtually all the days until Easter are automatically mortgaged. But I undertake that we shall have the debate to which the hon. Gentleman refers.

Mr. F. Harris

In view of the detailed opposition to the London Government Bill, is it possible to hold up the Committee stage?

Mr. Macleod

No. The Committee stage is proceeding in accordance with the Resolution of the House.

Mr. Shinwell

When will the President of the Board of Trade, the Minister of Labour and the Chancellor of the Exchequer be available to make statements on the investigations recently conducted, and still being conducted, by Viscount Hailsham into the unemployment position in the North-East?

Mr. Macleod

It is always possible for Questions to be put down on these matters. We have, of course, had debates which have covered this subject as well. But it does not come into the business I have announced today.

Sir C. Osborne

Will my right hon. Friend be good enough to try to find time in the near future to discuss exports, since unemployment and everything else depend on them?

Mr. Macleod

I certainly agree with the last part of my hon. Friend's question, but I must return to the point I made earlier in response to the hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell). With the exception of opportunities for private Members—and these are becoming limited as we move on in the Session—and opportunities on Supply days, which are very considerable, the time available between now and Easter is very limited.

Mr. Mendelson

The right hon. Gentleman has said several times in reply to questions about the defence debate that our complaint about the absence of full documentation can be raised in debate. Will not he agree that the main point here is that proper documentation should be published before the debate and not that complaints about the absence of documen- tation should be raised in the debate? Does he not also agree that, when decisions are made which might determine the country's defence policy for six or seven years ahead, it is the Government's duty to put the fullest documentation at the disposal of the House before we debate that policy?

Mr. Macleod

I understand the point that the hon. Gentleman has raised, but I do not share it. I do not share the view that another White Paper or document should be published before the date I have mentioned, but I am ready to draw the attention of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence to what has been said. The hon. Gentleman will remember that last year's Defence White Paper covered a considerable period ahead. It was called "The Next Five Years", and I do not see why it should be necessary to repeat that in the years following.

Mr. F. M. Bennett

Will my right hon. Friend say whether we shall have the long-awaited statement about the future of the Gurkhas before the defence debate? If his answer is "No", may we have the statement at the beginning of the debate and not at the end?

Mr. Macleod

I will put that to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence.

Mr. Denis Howell

Those of us interested in another part of Lord Hailsham's activities—sport—are beginning to wonder where we may get information about it. Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us when we shall have an opportunity to discuss the developments announced periodically to the Press? How can we put Questions down when we have to address them to the Minister of Education, who we know will not answer them?

Mr. Macleod

If there is a desire for a discussion on sport—and I agree that the subject is of very great importance—this could arise, in one way or another, on the Estimates, in Supply time, or in private Members' time.

Mr. Doughty

Will my right hon. Friend consult the Minister of Power to ascertain the importance of introducing early legislation for the issue of licences for prospecting for oil near this country and announce a date when such legislation will be introduced?

Mr. Macleod

I cannot undertake to do that. As I said to my hon. and learned Friend last week—and I will gladly discuss it with him—we have considered the possibility of legislation on this matter, but I cannot give any undertaking about it.

Mr. G. Thomas

Is the Leader of the House aware of the urgent need for a debate on the education service? In view of the exchanges earlier today, is he aware that it would do nothing but good if the House had the opportunity at an early date to discuss the employment and salaries of teachers and the conditions in the service?

Mr. Macleod

Of course I listened with great interest—it is a subject in which we are all deeply interested—to the exchanges which have just taken place. I imagine that an opportunity should arise during debates on the Estimates or on Supply.

Mr. D. Foot

Has the right hon. Gentleman's attention been drawn to the motion which appears today on the Order Paper, signed by hon. Members on both sides of the House, relating to Central Africa? In view of the widespread indignation expressed in Central Africa and in this country, will he, first, direct Her Majesty's representative in Central Africa to make representations to the Federal Government on this matter, and, secondly, provide time for the Motion to be debated?

[That this House views with deep concern the action of the Federal Government of Rhodesia and Nyasaland in declaring Dr. Terence Ranger a prohibited immigrant.]

Mr. Macleod

No, Sir—not in that form. I can, of course, fulfil the undertaking I gave to the hon. and learned Member and to other hon. Members in relation to Dr. Ranger in answering Questions for the First Secretary of State a week or so ago. I have announced a debate on Central Africa for next Thursday, although I cannot say to what extent these matters will then be in order.

Mr. Willis

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Scottish Members and the Scottish people generally would like to hear the proposals of the Secretary of State for Scotland about the Scottish economy? Will the right hon. Gentleman therefore make arrangements for the Secretary of State to come to the House at an early date and make a statement about such proposals?

Mr. Macleod

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has obviously heard that question, so I need not undertake to convey it to him. We have had a considerable number of debates, and no doubt will have a considerable number more, on the subject of the economy in general. If there is a specific wish by Scottish Members that next time we have such a debate my right hon. Friend should speak, of course we will take that into account in planning the debate.

Mr. Hector Hughes

When will the Leader of the House find time to discuss the disastrous state of unemployment in Scotland? Will he consult the President of the Board of Trade, the Minister of Labour and other Ministers, who are well aware of the tragedy which is taking place, with a view to informing himself of the need for an immediate debate on the subject?

Mr. Macleod

The hon. and learned Gentleman knows that I have just answered that question.

Mr. Lubbock

In view of what he has just said about the business for the next few months, will the Leader of the House reiterate the promise, which he made some time ago, that he would find time for a debate on the Motion on incitement to racial discrimination which stands on the Order Paper in the names of many hon. Members on both sides of the House?

[That this House calls upon Her Majesty's Government to introduce legislation making the incitement of race hatred and discrimination an offence.]

Mr. Macleod

I have always made the Home Secretary's position clear on this, as he has in response to Questions. As soon as possible after cases pending are out of the way—I recognise the feeling about this matter on both sides of the House—the Home Secretary will make a statement about it. Perhaps we can leave the question of debate until after the statement. I am sure that that would be wiser.

Mr. Gourlay

Has the right hon. Gentleman noticed the Motion on the Order Paper in the names of a number of my hon. Friends and of myself asking for the elimination of tolls on the new Forth Road Bridge? Is he aware that Scottish people are extremely disappointed by the refusal of the Secretary of State for Scotland, last Friday, to say that he would eliminate tolls? Will he give us an assurance that we can shortly debate this very important question?

[That this House bitterly condemns Her Majesty's Governmnt for its deliberate refusal to allow the new Forth Road Bridge to operate free of toll charges, despite urgent representations from the Scottish Trades Union Congress, the Scottish Council, the Scottish National Trust, the Scottish National Farmers' Union, the Scottish Tourist Board, and all the local authorities immediately concerned, of all political persuasions; believes that since such tolls will be the only transport charges on any part of the trunk road system from John o'Groats to London they are bound to have an adverse effect on industrial development in the development districts on both sides of the Bridge; and calls on Her Majesty's Government to match words with deeds by announcing forthwith that, in view of the economic situation in Scotland, no tolls wilt be levied on this bridge.]

Mr. Macleod

It may well come into some of the debates which we are to have. I have seen the Motion about tolls on the Forth Bridge, to which the hon. Gentleman has directed my attention, but I cannot promise specific time for it.

Mr. Lipton

Has the Leader of the House had another look at the very important Motion, which is signed by many of his hon. Friends, relating to the rating burden, which, in view of the recent revaluation, is causing widespread alarm and despondency? Will he do his best to find time to discuss it before the next General Election?

[That this House, conscious of the necessary changes under the rating revaluation of premises due to come into force in April, 1963, believes that the time has now arrived for the rate burden to be spread more fairly amongst all citizens, for the financing of education to be transferred, by stages, to the national Exchequer, whilst retaining local control, and for a full inquiry into possible new methods of raising revenue for local government services.]

Mr. Macleod

That takes us months, and perhaps years, away from the business for next week.