HC Deb 20 June 1963 vol 679 cc644-9
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, 24TH JUNE—Progress with the remaining stages of the Television Bill.

TUESDAY, 25TH JUNE, and WEDNESDAY, 26th JUNE—Report stage of the Finance Bill.

At the end, on Wednesday, Motion on the House of Commons Disqualification Act, 1957.

THURSDAY, 27TH JUNE—Remaining stages of the Peerage Bill, and, if not already obtained, completion of the remaining stages of the Television Bill.

FRIDAY, 28TH JUNE—Third Reading of the Finance Bill.

Remaining stages of the Commonwealth Development Bill.

MONDAY, 1ST JULY—The proposed business will be: Debate on a Report from the Estimates Committee.

At seven o'clock, Private Members' Motions.

Mr. H. Wilson

Is the Leader of the House now in a position to inform the House of the Government's plans for a two-day debate on foreign affairs, including disarmament, and, if so, can he state how soon we may expect this?

Mr. Macleod

I am almost certain that it will be in the business for the following week—in other words, that it will be in my next week's business statement.

Dame Irene Ward

Can my right hon Friend find time to debate my Motion on Privy Councillors?

[That a Select Committee be appointed to consider the wisdom of continuing the traditional practice of according a priority to address the House to Privy Councillors.]

Before he answers that question, will he bear in mind that Iam not against the privileges of Privy Councillors in general, irritating though they sometimes are, but that I am against the abuse of those privileges, as exercised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) on Monday last—[HON. MEMBERS: "Order."]—whose intervention I abominate?

Mr. Speaker

Order. That observation is out of order, if only on the ground that it goes far beyond the range of a business question.

Mr. Macleod

Perhaps I may reply to the first point put by my hon. Friend. I have noticed the Motion that she has put on the Order Paper, but I do not think that it is a suitable subject for debate. It may well be a subject for the Select Committee on Procedure to consider. We have a list, which perhaps will come up later tonight, if the House approves. I will consider my hon. Friend's suggestion, with a number of others, for a second list in due course.

Mr. Grimond

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Government will make any proposals for a discussion on the amendment to the procedure for tribunals of inquiry?

Mr. Macleod

I am not quite clear what point the right hon. Gentleman has in mind.

Mr. Grimond

The right hon. Gentleman may be aware that it has been suggested that this procedure might be amended, and that there might be an opportunity to discuss possible amendments before any course was agreed upon. I believe that that was said in the debate on the Vassallcase. Have the Government given any further thought to the matter and, if so, when may we expect an announcement?

Mr. Macleod

I have the point now. I was not clear what point the right hon. Gentleman was making at first. That matter would be preceded by discussions between the leaders of the parties. Perhaps I may draw the attention of my right hon Friend the Prime Minister to what has been said.

Captain Orr

Can my right hon. Friend say when the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure is coming?

Mr. Macleod

This is not Government business. It was tabled yesterday by the Church Commissioners, and I would hope that it would be possible to debate it at a reasonable hour. I cannot be more precise than that at the moment.

Mr. Brockway

May I take this last relevant opportunity to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he will now give facilities for the Bill against racial discrimination to proceed? Is he aware that President Kennedy has stated that he will introduce a Bill which is almost identical, in its major issues, with the Bill which has been introduced in this House on eight occasions? Would it not be desirable for this country to give a lead to America, rather than always to follow America?

Mr. Macleod

It may be that there are certain similarities between the proposed American Bill and the hon. Member's Bill, but very few people would consider that the situation is similar in the two countries. The position of the Government has been stated by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. The charges that were pressed before were upheld, and the sentences have been carried out. We are, nevertheless, convinced that a strengthening of the penalties is advisable, but we are not convinced that the hon. Member's Bill is the right way to proceed.

Mr. H. Wilson

Will the right hon. Gentleman stop this logic chopping and realise the importance of the Bill to which my hon. Friend refers? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware, first, that my hon. Friend's Bill deals with the problem of racial discrimination, which is not even touched upon in the vaguest way by the Home Secretary's miserable Measure? Will he now tell the House whether, in these last few remaining days, as my hon. Friend has said, the Government will give further thought to it?

Secondly, with regard to that part of my hon. Friend's Bill which deals adequately with proposals for racial incitement, is the Leader of the House aware that when the Home Secretary answered a Question, well before the Recess, the House was seriously misled? We were not told that an inadequate Bill was being introduced in another place on that very afternoon, when we had asked for further consideration of my hon. Friend's Bill. Will he now reconsider the whole matter on the lines of the plea made by my hon. Friend?

Mr. Macleod

That is a very arrogant way of putting it.

Of course it is true that the Bill that my right hon. Friend proposes to introduce does not mention racial discrimination. If the Leader of the Opposition will study the law of this country he will discover that no Bill has mentioned racial discrimination. It is a concept that is altogether foreign to our law. That is a very important matter.

Mr. Wilson

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that the purpose of my hon. Friend's Bill is to amend the law of this country so that we have powers to deal with racial discrimination? Will he now study my hon. Friend's Bill?

Mr. Macleod

That is a much more reasonable approach.

The hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) knows very well—because we have discussed this matter on a number of occasions—that I have studied his Bill very closely.

There is another Bill which many people believe to be a considerable improvement on the Bill of the hon. Member for Eton and Slough, namely, the Bill sponsored by my hon. Friend the Member for Word, North (Mr. Iremonger), but both these Bills have considerable defects in relation to the point which I have made about racial discrimination, which I assure the Leader of the Opposition is a very real one.

We shall have an opportunity to debate these matters when the Bill providing for increased penalties, on which, at least, everybody is agreed, comes before the House for its Second Reading.

Mr. Turton

Earlier this Session my right hon. Friend undertook that there would be a debate on Commonwealth trade and the G.A.T.T. Conference. Can he say whether that debate is still included in his business programme? If so, when will it take place?

Mr. Macleod

I did not think that the undertaking I gave my right hon. Friend was as categorical as that. I should like to refresh my memory as to its exact words and then consider it, together with the other claimants for the time that we have left.

Mr. Hector Hughes

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what are the Government's intentions with regard to the Wills Bill—a very useful but small Bill? Is it his intention to provide time for its implementation before the Recess?

Mr. Macleod

No, Sir. There are a number of Bills, all of which hon. Members regard as being of particular importance, if they are their own. It would be quite wrong at this stage of the Session to hold out that sort of hope.

Mr. G. Thomas

In answer to his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) the Leader of the House said that he would ensure that the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure would come on at a reasonable hour. Is he aware that this Measure was hardly discussed at all in another place, that it is a very controversial one, and that we have a right to expect at least a day to discuss a Measure that contains so many Clauses?

Mr. Macleod

I am aware of the importance of this Measure. I simply want to make two points. First, this is not Government business—as he knows—and, secondly, in my capacity as Leader of the House I will be as helpful to the House as I can in respect of the time allotted to it. Beyond that I cannot go.

Mr. Thorpe

Can the Leader of the House say whether there will be an opportunity to discuss the High Commission Territories which are of interest to hon. Members on both sides of the House? In particular, can he give an undertaking that there will be an opportunity to have a discussion before a Constitution is imposed on Swaziland?

Mr. Macleod

I should like to draw the point made by the hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) to the attention of my right hon. Friend. There are a number of subjects, the Rochdale Report, accommodation and other matters, which have strong claims, in respect of which undertakings have been given. Beyond that I can talk only about a possibility.

Mr. Marsh

In view of recent events, would the Leader of the House find time for a debate on the present state of the law of libel, particularly since it now seems obvious that it recently operated very much against the public interest and would seem to need reconsideration?

Mr. Macleod

No, Sir. I cannot give that undertaking.