HC Deb 04 July 1963 vol 680 cc592-601
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, 8TH JULY—Supply [24th Allotted Day]: Committee.

There will be a debate on Housing and Urban Land Prices, on the appropriate Votes.

At seven o'clock, opposed Private Business, set down by the Chairman of Ways and Means. It is expected that this will be disposed of in sufficient time to allow the Housing debate to be resumed.

Consideration of the Lords Amendments to the British Museum Bill.

Motion on the Town and Country Planning (Minerals) Regulations.

TUESDAY, 9TH JULY—Second Reading of the Public Order Bill [Lords], which it is hoped to obtain early enough for the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure to start at a reasonable hour.

WEDNESDAY, 10TH JULY—Debate on the Rochdale Report on the Major Ports of Great Britain (Command No. 1824).

Second Reading of the Statute Law Revision Bill [Lords], which is a consolidation Measure.

Motion on the Gas (Borrowing Powers) Order.

THURSDAY, 11TH JULY—Second Reading of the Rhodesia and Nyasaland Bill.

Motion on the Greenwich Hospital and Travers' Foundation Accounts.

FRIDAY, 12TH JULY—Debate on the First and Special Reports of the Estimates Committee on Dental Services.

And, if there is time, on their Sixth and Special Reports on the Timing of the Presentation of Supplementary Estimates.

MONDAY, 15TH JULY—The proposed business will be: Supply [25th Allotted Day]: Committee.

A debate will take place on Science.

At 9.30 p.m. the Question will be put from the Chair on the Vote under discussion and on all outstanding Votes, under Standing Order No. 16.

Mr. H. Wilson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware—as I am sure he is—that there can be no guarantee that the Second Reading of the Public Order Bill, on Tuesday, will go through with the speed for which he hopes, particularly in view of the feeling of hon. Members that the Bill has been misconceived from the start? The right hon. Gentleman will recollect the exchanges which we had about it the day that it was very quickly introduced in another place.

In those circumstances, will he take note of what I am sure is the widespread feeling on both sides of the House, that if the debate on the Public Order Bill continues longer than he hopes, it will be quite intolerable for the House to be asked to deal with the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure, if that is reached too late at night, in view of the very strong feelings both for and against this Measure which many hon. Members have?

Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm—I think that I am right in saying this—that the Government, as well as the Opposition, regard the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure as entirely a matter for private Members and that the Whips will be off in respect of that Measure?

Mr. Macleod

I agree with everything that the Leader of the Opposition said—which makes a nice change. The Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure is not a Government Measure and there is no question of the Whips being on for it. I entirely agree that it would not be desirable to take it late at night, and that is why I worded the business for Tuesday as carefully as I did.

Sir H. Legge-Bourke

May I ask a question about the business for Monday week? Will my right hon. Friend be a little more specific as to what the debate will be about, because it is within the recollection of hon. Members on both sides of the House that the last time we had a debate on science as such it proved to be too wide a subject for us to get anything constructive out of the debate?

Mr. Macleod

My hon. Friend will appreciate that this is a Supply day and that, therefore, it is the Opposition who indicate what they wish to discuss. It has not yet been announced whether it will be on the appropriate Votes or on a Motion. I do not know whether the Leader of the Opposition can help on this matter, but perhaps we could clear the matter up now or I could make a subsequent business announcement.

Mr. H. Wilson

Is it not clear to the right, hon. Gentleman, since the Question will be put from the Chair about 9.30 p.m., that the debate must be on a Vote and cannot be on a Motion? The Votes will relate to the Minister for Science and other related subjects, and we shall obviously make our own speeches, but, the Votes having been tabled, it will be entirely a matter for hon. Members and the Chairman of Ways and Means to decide what is in order. We shall put the Votes down and presumably anything which is in order on the Votes relating to science could be discussed.

Mr. Wade

Is it the right hon. Gentleman's intention that there should be a debate on the case of Mr. Harold Philby and the recent disclosures relating to him?

Mr. Macleod

No, Sir. I have no such intention.

Sir A. V. Harvey

Last wek, my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, South (Sir H. d'Avigdor-Goldsmid) asked the Leader of the House whether he would find time for legislation about an airport authority. Is the Leader of the House aware that London Airport urgently requires something to be done about it? As the previous Minister of Aviation said that there would be such an authority, will he give this matter his urgent attention? London Airport is rapidly becoming a disgrace to this country and legislation is required to deal with it.

Mr. Macleod

I am well aware that legislation is necessary to deal with this matter, but I know that my hon. Friend realises that it cannot come into the busines for next week or, at this stage, into the business for this Session. But I agree that it is an important matter and, of course, I take note of what he said. A good deal of study on this matter has taken place.

Mr. Lipton

Will the Leader of the House find time to discuss a Motion which I put down with my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) relating to a personal statement which I made to the House on 10th November, 1955? If, for any reason, he does not like the terms in which the Motion is drafted, will he agree to enter into discussions with my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley and myself with a view to an agreed Motion which will enable the House formally to permit me to withdraw that personal statement?

[That this House deplores the fact that on 10th November, 1955, the hon. Member for Brixton was prevailed on by the formal assurances of the then Foreign Secretary, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bromley, to make a personal statement withdrawing and regretting charges and disclosures regarding Mr. Harold Philby, which the Government now belatedly admit to be true.]

Mr. Macleod

Naturally, in my capacity as Leader of the House I shall be very glad to discuss with the hon. Member and anybody he chooses to bring with him any matter concerning the business of the House. I can deal only with the Motion which now stands on the Order Paper, and I certainly do not propose to find time to debate that.

Mr. Warbey

Will the Leader of the House say when we shall have a debate on foreign affairs? When is the House to have an opportunity to discuss, in addition to the problems of and preparations for war, the problems of the Yemen, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cuba, Berlin, and other problems which are before the United Nations and which are likely to lead to breaches of the peace?

Mr. Macleod

I cannot suggest that there is any possibility of another foreign affairs debate at present. The hon. Member knows that we had a two-day debate on the subject, ending last night. On one particular matter which he mentioned, and only on one aspect of that in relation to the Yemen, there will be a statement in a few moments.

Mr. P. Williams

As the Government are to make an announcement in due course on policy in relation to the North-East, will my right hon. Friend agree that this would be a highly desirable subject to be debated by the House as soon as possible?

Mr. Macleod

It certainly is an extremely important subject and no doubt one which is in the mind of the Leader of the Opposition as the Opposition are considering the remaining days which are available. [Hon. Members:"Government time."] I cannot provide an opportunity within Government time. We have spent less time in this Session on legislation and more time on debate than, I think, in any single Session since the war. That charge cannot be laid against the Government. There are opportunities available to the Opposition.

Dr. King

On Wednesday, we are to debate the Rochdale Report. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the ports of Britain and the areas around them have been anxiously awaiting some declaration of Government policy and of its attitude to the Report? Shall we merely have a general debate on the Report on Wednesday, or will the Leader of the House precede it by presenting a White Paper setting out the Government's views?

Mr. Macleod

The debate would take place on a Government Motion, which I think has already been tabled, welcoming the statement made by the Government on Wednesday, 6th March, on the Report. Naturally, my right hon. Friend will develop that statement when he opens the debate.

Mr. Robert Cooke

Will the Leader of the House indicate when time might be found to debate the Wilson Report on Noise? Will he say whether the Government intend to take effective action on this important subject?

Mr. Macleod

I cannot suggest an early opportunity for debate, but I very much agree about the importance of this subject. The statement made in another place, repeated in this morning's HANSARD, shows the seriousness with which the Government regard this problem.

Mr. Wigg

Has the right hon. Gentleman given very careful consideration to the Motion standing in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Brixton (Mr. Lipton)? If he has, has he borne in mind the fact that if a wrong has been done to my hon. Friend the Member for Brixton, it is a wrong which has been done to the House as a whole? This House lives by precedent, and if this wrong is not put right, then in twenty or thirty years' time this precedent will guide a future Speaker in the conduct of a similar matter.

Will the right hon. Gentleman not remember that recently, when some of the cards were in my hand, I went out of my way to meet the Government in this matter so that a similar situation could be put right? Would not the Leader of the House reconsider his duty to the House and find time, not by discussions with my hon. Friend and myself—that would be presumptuous—but by discussions between the usual channels to find a form of words which could be tabled without encroaching on either Government or Opposition time and in the interests of the House as a whole?

Mr. Macleod

I readily responded at once to the suggestion made by the hon. Member for Brixton (Mr. Lipton), and if wider consultations are required I should be glad to have them, too. The point which I have made is that I certainly could not accept any suggestion in the terms of the Motion which is on the Order Paper at present.

Mr. H. Wilson

Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise that this is fundamentally a House of Commons matter? The issue raised at this stage—I should hope that he would take this view—does not go into the wider questions of the Philby affair, which might be a matter for other handling. This is the second case in recent weeks where a problem has arisen about a personal statement, and we have no precedent to guide us in the whole history of Parliament, in Erskine May, and all the rest of it. It is important to get some declaration about it.

Would the Leader of the House consider having discussions either through the usual channels or with my hon. Friends on the basis that perhaps an agreed Motion might be found which would enable the House to dispose of this matter quickly and without any controversial or acrimonious debate on the wider issues in order to get the record straight, because, as I say, this is a House of Commons matter?

Mr. Macleod

I recognise that it is a House of Commons matter, and I have said that I would have discussions either with the right hon. Member or with the hon. Members for Brixton (Mr. Lipton) and Dudley (Mr. Wigg).

Mr. McMaster

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind the need for an early debate on the affairs of Northern Ireland, in view of our heavy unemployment and the difficulties facing our shipbuilding, aviation and textile industries?

Mr. Macleod

Yes, certainly. I am reasonably confident that we will be able to have such a debate before we rise for the Recess.

Mr. Charles A. Howell

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman a question for his consideration when he is picking the days for the various debates? Will he give the House an assurance that the Minister of the Crown who is responsible for the Department concerned will be present in the House for the debate and will give priority to being here rather than accept engagements outside?

Mr. Macleod

Obviously, there is a supplementary question behind that question, and I am not informed on what the hon. Member has in mind.

Dame Irene Ward

Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that before he enters into any conversations with the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) and those who support him he will seek the views of some Members of Parliament who have been here for a long time? Is he aware that I have a great deal to say before we get involved in any Motion of any kind? I support the view that the Motion of the hon. Member for Brixton (Mr. Lipton) should be debated, but I am a bit tired of hearing hon. Members opposite talking as if they were the only people in the world—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The fact that the hon. Lady has a great deal to say about the matter may take it outside business questions.

Mr. Snow

Does the Leader of the House recall that a few weeks ago I secured permission from the House to introduce a very modest Bill to amend the Public Health Act, 1961? Since the various outbreaks of typhoid are imposing strain on an increasing number of small authorities, will the Government provide some sort of help to get this very modest Bill through?

Mr. Macleod

I could not give that undertaking. As the hon. Member knows, the time for private Members' legislation in the ordinary way has been exhausted. There are many claimants and I cannot select from them.

Mr. Grimond

When the right hon. Gentleman is giving further thought to the Motion of the hon. Member for Brixton (Mr. Lipton), will he consider whether there is not a perfectly good precedent for dealing with this? Is it not the custom of the House that when a Minister unwittingly misleads a Member of the House so that that Member, in turn, misleads the House, that Minister comes to the House and makes a statement, without prejudice, explaining the matter and making it clear that he unwittingly misled the Member in question?

Mr. Macleod

This subject is a great deal more complicated than that. If the right hon. Gentleman will read the speech of the hon. Member for Brixton (Mr. Lipton) in November, 1955, he will find that the hon. Member was interrupted on at least six occasions and that the majority of the interruptions were made by hon. Members on his own side, asking him to substantiate what he was saying. It is quite unfair to suggest that it was solely the statement of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, then Foreign Secretary, which led to this situation.

Dr. Bray

Will the Leader of the House consider finding time to debate the Report of the Select Committee on the Nationalised Industries dealing with the electricity supply industry in view of the questions which it raises about the security of electricity supply and the public importance of maintaining that security?

Mr. Macleod

Yes, but the problems of the nationalised industries are dealt with under a sort of quota system, and I do not think that there is any time available.

Mr. Wigg

May I say to the Leader of the House that I entirely agree with the view which he has expressed about the 1955 debate? That is why I appeal to him as the Leader of the House.

Mr. Macleod

Exactly. That is why I say—perhaps to my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward)—that I am, of course, prepared to discuss this matter with any Member of the House. I do not limit that in any way at all. But I think that it is a very much more complicated matter than the Leader of the Liberal Party suggests.

Dame Irene Ward

Let us have the truth.

Mr. Wigg

I am much obliged to the Leader of the House for offering to have talks with my hon. Friend the Member for Brixton and myself. As this is a House of Commons matter, it would be entirely proper for the two Front Benches to discuss this matter first.

Mr. Speaker

If the hon. Member is addressing me, that is not a point on which I can express any view. I was rather hoping that we might bring business questions to an end soon.