HC Deb 21 March 1963 vol 674 cc572-80
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 far next week will be as follows:

MONDAY, 25TH MARCH—Third Reading of the Weights and Measures Bill.

Motions relating to the Post Office.

TUESDAY, 26TH MARCH—Committee and remaining stages of the Consolidated Fund (No. 2) Bill, which if the House agrees, will be taken formally to allow debate on an Opposition Motion on School Building and Teacher Shortage.

Motion on the Housing (Payments for Well-Maintained Houses) Order.

WEDNESDAY, 27TH MARCH—Remaining stages of the Protection of Depositors Bill, and of the British Museum Bill.

THURSDAY, 28TH MARCH—Debate on House of Lords reform, which will arise on a Government Motion to take note of the Report of the Joint Select Committee.

Motion on the Location of Offices Bureau.

FRIDAY, 29TH MARcH—Private Members' Motions.

MONDAY, 1ST APRIL, and TUESDAY, 2ND APRIL—The proposed business will be: Remaining stages of the London Government Bill.

Mr. H. Wilson

In view of the widespread Press reports about the publication of the reorganisation scheme of the railway authorities, can the right hon. Gentleman say whether, in addition to our confident expectation that we shall read the whole scheme in the Sunday Times or the Sunday Telegrpah this weekend, the House will be given a statement on the day of publication of this reorganisation scheme?

Mr. Macleod

Yes, Sir. My right hon. Friend the Minister will make a statement in the House at 3.30 next Wednesday, and we are arranging, which, I think, will be for the convenience of hon. Members, who might like to know it now, that copies of the Report will be available in the Vote Office at 12 noon; that is, a few hours before the Minister makes his statement.

Mr. Wilson

Is the Leader of the House aware that that will almost certainly meet the convenience of the House, because on this occasion at least, and, perhaps, on other occasions, it would be helpful to have a detailed report available to us before the Ministerial statement is made? In view of a lot of Press comments and statements about this matter, will the right hon. Gentleman say whether the White Paper which is to be published at 12 noon on Wednesday represents the full report submitted by Dr. Botching to the Minister, or an amended version of it?

Mr. Macleod

It is the Report, absolutely and in full, without a single word altered, as it has been presented to us.

Mr. Kitson

Shall we have an opportunity to debate the Agricultural Price Review before Easter?

Mr. Macleod

No, Sir. As my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has made clear, in recent years, when it has been debated, it has usually been taken on Supply.

Mr. M. Stewart

Concerning the London Government Bill, will the right hon. Gentleman consider inviting the House to revise its former decision about the amount of time to be available for the Bill in view of certain embarrassments experienced by the Government this morning in Standing Committee F?

Mr. Macleod

On the Floor of the House, we have no official notice of what happens upstairs.

Mr. P. Williams

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Lord Privy Seal was pressed fairly closely yesterday, from both sides of the House, on the question of a multilateral and multinational nuclear force? Can he give us an undertaking that there will be at least one day, and perhaps two, to debate any conclusions that the Government may come to on this matter?

Mr. Macleod

No, Sir, I cannot give an undertaking about a debate. If my hon. Friend studies what I have said, he will see that I have announced the business until Tuesday, 2nd April. We all know that the Budget is to be presented on the following day and virtually, therefore, I have announced the business until the Recess. I am, however, aware of the importance which the House attaches to this matter, which was raised yesterday by the Leader of the Opposition, and on an early day next week—on Monday, or, more likely, Tuesday—my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal, in this House, and my noble Friend the Foreign Secretary, in another place, will make a statement on these matters.

Mr. Hector Hughes

Will the Leader of the House kindly say whether the debate on school buildings which is to take place on Tuesday will be sufficiently wide to deal with the closure of existing schools in Aberdeen, about which I have written to the Minister?

Mr. Macleod

I dare say that if the hon. and learned Member catches the eye of the Chair, he can make that point.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Now that it has been decided to put before the Select Committee on Procedure the question of the Committee stage of the Finance Bill, will my right hon. Friend say when there will be an opportunity to debate further reforms and the future programme for the Select Committee?

Mr. Macleod

Let us take one thing at a time. The Select Committee will meet at an early date and will, of course, report to the House on this year's Finance Bill as soon as we have seen it. After that, there are a number of subjects which have been put to me for consideration.

Mr. Shinwell

In his reply to the hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. P. Williams), the right hon. Gentleman said that he could not afford facilities for an early debate on the subject of the proposed multilateral and multinational forces. Is he, however, aware that his right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal, in reply to Questions yesterday, agreed that the matter of a debate was one for the Leader of the House and gave an assurance that the matter would not be finally disposed of until the House had had an opportunity of debating it? Can the right hon. Gentleman repeat that assurance?

Mr. Macleod

I have have had some discussion on this with my right hon. Friend and, naturally, I heard most of yesterday's exchanges in the House. My understanding of the assurance was that I, being responsible for arranging business, would consider the question of a debate. As I have said, however, although there is not an available Government day before Easter we have arranged for a statement—on which, no doubt, Questions will be asked in the usual way—by my right hon. Friend on Monday or Tuesday next week.

Mr. Healey

Is it now proposed to publish the statement made by the Foreign Secretary at the N.A.T.O. Council meeting yesterday, in view of the widespread publicity it has already received as a result of most of it being revealed by members of the Foreign Office News Department?

Mr. Macleod

There is an analogy in the long series of statements on the Common Market negotiations which were made, at appropriate times, by my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal. I think that the speech by my noble Friend yesterday would be better covered by the statement we envisage for next Monday or Tuesday, but I will certainly put to my right hon. Friend the hon. Gentleman's suggestion for a White Paper in addition, if the hon. Gentleman wishes to press me on that.

Mr. Healey

I am sorry to press the right hon. Gentleman on this, bat he will recall that a similar incident arose during the Brussels negotiations, when a so-called secret speech by the Lord Privy Seal received wide publicity in Europe before being made available to hon. Members of this House. In view of that precedent, will the right hon. Gentleman seek to publish, or to lay on the Table, the speech made yesterday by the Foreign Secretary, which is already receiving publicity without being made available for study by right hon. and hon. Members?

Mr. Macleod

I am aware of the precedent that the hon. Gentleman has, quite rightly, mentioned. But there were a number of other occasions on which no such action was taken. However, I will discuss with my right hon. Friend the full coverage of my noble Friend's speech.

Mr. F. Harris

As the Chancellor of the Exchequer is taking the unusual course of opening his Budget on a Wednesday, how many days will be devoted to the debate on this occasion?

Mr. Macleod

The usual four days, which will take us into the beginning of the last week before Easter.

Mr. Oram

On a recent Thursday, did not the right hon. Gentleman say that we might expect a debate on the Rochdale Report before Easter? Is this now likely?

Mr. Macleod

It cannot take place before Easter. I do not think that I ever indicated any particular time for this debate. I have said clearly that the Rochdale Report will be debated, but it will not be before Easter.

Mr. K. Lewis

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many of us on this side of the House, and doubtless many hon. Members opposite, enjoyed his all-too-short debate with my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Crawley) on television last night? Is it possible for us to have a debate in this House on industrial relations, a subject which is highly important for the country?

Mr. Macleod

This subject is highly important. But there are a number of claims on business between now and Easter. There can be no conceivable prospect of such a debate in that time.

Mr. Grimond

Surely the Foreign Secretary's speech yesterday in Paris represents a major departure, whether we agree with it or not, in British defence policy. It was not mentioned in the White Paper on Defence. I remind the right hon. Gentleman that during the Brussels negotiations there were debates in this House. It is very difficult to believe that there is so much important Government between now and Easter that this major matter cannot be debated in what has recently been called the main forum of the nation. There can be few more important matters than the defence of the Western world.

Mr. Macleod

The right hon. Gentleman is somewhat telescoping an argument. There were not debates on every occasion that my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal made a statement during the Brussels negotiations, but only on a selected number of occasions. I agree that some aspects of the Foreign Secretary's statement are new. Since the White Paper, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, there have been visits by American leaders, for example, and communiqués issued as a result. I suggest that we might await the statement which my right hon. Friend will make next week.

Mr. Brockway

In view of his statement that he had to await a decision in the courts on the Jordan case before he could give a reply to my request for facilities for the Racial Discrimination and Incitement Bill, can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Government have now reached a decision on the implications of the case and whether they will facilitate the passage of the Bill?

Mr. Macleod

I think that any such statement would be made by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. As the hon. Gentleman knows, my right hon. Friend is considering the implications of the decision of the Divisional Court in the case of Jordan and, naturally, we shall fulfil the undertaking to make a statement in the House.

Mr. Thorpe

The hon. Member for Richmond, Yorks. (Mr. Kitson) asked about a debate on agriculture. Why are th Government relying upon the Opposition to provide time for an agricultural debate? Is not this an industry in which the Government themselves nave sufficient interest to provide time for a debate? There was no debate last year on this vital industry's Price Review. Is that precedent to be followed this year?

Mr. Macleod

If the hon. Gentleman carries his researches a little further back, he will find that it is comparatively rare for the Government themselves to find time for a debate on this subject.

Mr. Thorpe


Mr. Macleod

I am sorry. I thought that the hon. Gentleman understood how these matters were arranged in the House. This is, fundamentally, a matter of Supply. That being so, it is normally taken in Opposition time. This has been a well-established custom over very many years.

Mr. Hannan

Yesterday, the House granted me permission to introduce a Bill to indemnify the Secretary of State for Scotland against any penal consequences of his failure to lay certain reports before the House. Will time be provided to put that Bill through further stages? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Secretary of State is such an asset to this side of the House that we do not want to lose him?

Mr. Macleod

The hon. Gentleman should not be so pointed in his observations. If he wants to indemnify Secretaries of State going back to 1889, there is a right hon. Gentleman within a few feet of him on whom he would have to start.

Mr. Hale

Before fixing the dates of the Easter Recess, will the right hon. Gentleman try to find time for further progress on the National Insurance Act, 1957 (Amendment) Bill? It is a very small Measure, but one of great importance to diseased, injured and disabled soldiers. It is supported by hon. Members on both sides and I had the unanimous leave of the House to present it. As far as I know, it is mainly opposed by the hon. and learned Member for Surrey, East (Mr. Doughty) on the ground that my name is on the Bill and that he opposes any Bill which has my name on it.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this Bill has caused the greatest interest in the Colne Valley of yorkshire—rather more interest, indeed, than his belated announcement that the snow had stopped?

Mr. Macleod

The House gave the hon. Gentleman leave to introduce the Bill. It has not reached the stage of Second Reading. There are many Private Members' Bills in exactly that position and it would be wholly wrong for me to issue, as it were, a ranking list between them.

Mr. Warbey

Since the latest figures confirm that some parts of the Midlands are being seriously affected by long-term structural unemployment, will the right hon. Gentleman now put high on his list of priorities a debate on the economic problems of the Midlands?

Mr. Macleod

No, Sir. If we were to debate employment and unemployment on a regional basis, there are, as the hon. Member will recognise, many regions with higher claims than his.

  1. BRITISH MUSEUM [MONEY] [No. 2] 165 words