HC Deb 28 February 1963 vol 672 cc1449-52
Mr. H. Wilson

May I ask the Leader of the House to 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, 4TH MARCH, and TUESDAY, 5TH MARCH—Debate on Defence, on a Government Motion inviting the House to approve the White Paper (Command No. 1936).

At the end on Tuesday, the remaining stages of the Purchase Tax Bill [Lords], which is a Consolidation Measure.

WEDNESDAY, 6TH MARCH—Remaining stages of Offices, Shops and Railway Premises Bill.

THURSDAY, 7TH MARCH—Supply [8th Allotted Day]: Air Estimates, 1963–64 will be considered in Committee on Vote A.

FRIDAY, 8TH MARCH—Private Members' Bills.

MONDAY, 11TH MARCH—The proposed business is Supply [9th Allotted Day]; Navy Estimates, 1963–64 will be considered in Committee on Vote A.

Mr. Wilson

Can the Leader of the House say whether it is the intention to suspend the Rule for the debate on the Air Estimates on Thursday and for the debates on the Navy Estimates for the fallowing Monday and for the Army Estimates when they come along?

Mr. Macleod

Yes, Sir. In each case we propose, as has been the custom for the last five years, to have a suspension for two hours.

Dame Irene Ward

Can we have a debate on the Atomic Energy Authority so that I may be provided with an opportunity of thanking Captain Atkins for preventing the Government from becoming pompous on this matter?

Mr. Macleod

I doubt whether we need a full day's debate for that.

Mr. Wade

May I draw the attention of the Leader of the House to a Motion on the Order Paper on the subject of rates, which stands in the names of my right hon. Friend, my hon. Friends and myself'? Is he aware of the growing concern in many quarters about the increasing burden of rates and the steep increases which some ratepayers will have to suffer? Can we have a debate so that this whole subject can be fully aired?

[That this House expresses its concern that the establishment of the new rating valuations has been accompanied by substantial increases in the overall rate burden and is creating serious hardship for many ratepayers; calls on Her Majesty's Government as a matter of urgency to reform local government finance by making available new sources of income to local authorities and by ensuring that a larger share of the cost of education is borne by the Exchequer; and in the meantime calls on Her Majesty's Government to take urgent steps to mitigate cases of hardship under the new valuations.]

Mr. Macleod

I am certainly aware of the concern. The hon. Member probably heard a short time earlier Members of the Opposition urging vastly increased expenditure, for example, on education, the additional expenditure on which, above everything else, has been put forward as the reason for the increase in rates.

Mr. J. Howard

When may we expect a statement on the Government's decision on the Rochdale Report?

Mr. Macleod

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport hopes to make a statement on that next week, probably on Wednesday.

Mr. Zilliacus

As it is now plain that in the recent Cuban crisis preliminary steps were taken in the military field for instant action but no precautions were taken in the field of Civil Defence, will the right hon. Gentleman find time for a discussion on Civil Defence, which has not been debated for a long time?

Mr. Macleod

I imagine that any comments which the hon. Member wishes to make on that subject would be in order in the debate on Monday and Tuesday.

Mr. Leavey

Can my right hon. Friend give any indication when we might expect to receive the report from Lord Radcliffe and his colleagues and when we might expect to have an opportunity to discuss it?

Mr. Macleod

I have no knowledge of that subject. The report will be made to the Home Secretary and, apart from any parts which cannot be laid on security grounds, it will then be laid before Parliament. At that time it would be appropriate to consider a debate. I recognise that the House will want to discuss the matter, but I would not have thought it likely that the House will have an opportunity for a debate on it before Easter.

Mr. Albu

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider having a debate on the Report of the Advisory Committee of Scientific Policy, especially so that we can discuss the complacent attitude of the Minister for Science towards the drain of scientists from this country and the petty, small-minded attack which the noble Lord made on the American educational system which was unworthy of a Minister?

Mr. Macleod

My noble Friend's attack was not on the American system but in praise of our own, which is no bad thing to do. On the other point, as I am sure the hon. Gentleman knows, in the next few weeks there will be opportunities on Supply, when I dare say that could be arranged.

Sir C. Osborne

May I make another plea that my right hon. Friend should find time to discuss exports, especially in view of the economic statement issued only yesterday saying how important this is for everything else in the nation? Can we have time to discuss it, please?

Mr. Macleod

I recognise that. The position, as those who study the procedure of the House know—and I am glad that on 15th March we are to have an opportunity for a debate on some of these matters—is that this is the time of the year when there is least flexibility of all in the programme and most of the initiative for debates lies not with the Government but with private Members and with the Opposition.

Mr. W. Hamilton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that for many months the Members for Scotland have been waiting for a statement by the Government on what the Government intend to do to remedy the now parlous state of the economy? Can the right hon. Gentleman give an undertaking that the Secretary of State for Scotland will make a statement on this issue in this House next week?

Mr. Macleod

No, Sir. I cannot give such an undertaking. There was some discussion on this point last week, and I think that since then there have been certain discussions between the two sides of the House about future Scottish debates. If it would help, we could have discussions through the usual channels.

Mr. Woodburn

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that up to now they all seem to be emergency measures which are proposed to deal with the situation in Scotland, while in fact there has been a fundamental decline in employment in Scotland for many years? Will the Government set up a committee to study more fundamental remedies for a rather serious situation?

Mr. Speaker

We cannot, on business questions, consider the setting up of independent committees.

Mr. F. Harris

Can my right hon. Friend say whether the Secretary of State for the Colonies will be returning from Kenya next week and whether a statement will be made on the possibility of self-government in Kenya in the near future?

Mr. Macleod

I think that my right hon. Friend is returning within a few days. I shall put to him the point relating to Kenya, and, indeed, other matters arising out of his trip and the question whether it would be convenient for a statement to be made to the House.