HC Deb 14 November 1963 vol 684 cc317-21
Mr. H. Wilson

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

The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd)

Yes, Sir. As the House is aware, the debate on the Address in reply to the Gracious Speech, will be continued today and on Friday and Monday, and brought to a conclusion on Tuesday, 19th November.

WEDNESDAY, 20TH NOVEMBER—Second Reading of the Industrial Training Bill, and Committee stage of the Money Resolution.

Second Reading of the Nigeria Republic Bill.

THURSDAY, 21ST NOVEMBER—Second Reading of the Defence (Transfer of Functions) Bill, and the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill, and Committee stage of the Money Resolution.

FRIDAY, 22ND NOVEMBER—Second Reading of the Kenya Independence and Zanzibar Bills, and of the Bahama Islands (Constitution) Bill.

MONDAY, 25TH NOVEMBER—The proposed business will be: Second Reading of the Housing Bill, and Committee stage of the Money Resolution.

Mr. Wilson

I think that the Leader of the House is aware that in past years we have had a convention that the Opposition could borrow one or two Supply days in advance of Christmas. Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman say whether that arrangement will apply this year and that it will be possible to have one or two days' debate in anticipation of Supply on subjects chosen by the Opposition?

Secondly, either as part of that arrangement or in Government time, will the right hon. and learned Gentleman ensure that time is provided for us at an early date to debate the whole question of Commonwealth trade, including some of the Prime Minister's rather extraordinary remarks about the Commonwealth?

Thirdly, will the right hon. and learned Gentleman clear up the confusion which seems to exist in the minds of the Government about hire-purchase legislation which was not mentioned in the Gracious Speech? In view of the fact that right hon. and hon. Members opposite not long ago voted down a very valuable Bill introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Warrington (Mr. W. T. Williams), and that last Session an equally important Bill was voted down in another place, will the right hon. and learned Gentleman say whether we can now expect hire-purchase legislation this Session?

Mr. Lloyd

As far as the last point which the right hon. Gentleman made is concerned, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will be dealing with that matter in the course of his speech today. I will certainly consider the right hon. Gentleman's second point. I do not think that there will be any difficulty about the first point, but I will look into it.

Sir R. Cary

Much the most vital and intelligent proposals put before the House by the Government are the new and wide responsibilities given to the President of the Board of Trade, particularly in regard to the regional organisation and the possible appointment of regional industrial commissioners. In these circumstances, will my right hon. and learned Friend give consideration for the future to a series of debates on individual regions and not follow the usual custom of a day's or two days'debate on economic policy, in which we never get down to the vital, material matters affecting the regions?

Mr. Lloyd

I will certainly consider any suggestion from my hon. Friend. Of course, a good deal of what he said will be in order in today's debate.

Mr. Lipton

To make up some of the Parliamentary time lost on account of the Kinross by-election, will the Leader of the House now confirm the Government's decision that the Christmas Recess will run from 20th December to 14th January? All kinds of people seem to have been told these dates before the House has been officially informed.

Mr. Lloyd

I think that if the hon. Gentleman had studied the Motion put before the House yesterday he would have seen that Friday of that week was provided for private Members'time. Therefore, that is the provisional plan, but, of course, it is for the House itself to decide.

Mr. Wigg

Will the Leader of the House observe that I put down a Motion on the Order Paper to have a new Standing Order 80A so that we could have a defence expenditure committee to give the House some control over defence expenditure and to establish the facts? Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman be good enough either to find time for a debate on this subject, or to refer it to the Select Committee on Procedure so that the House could look at it, because surely it is time that the House, now meeting as the House of Commons, should have a look at, and attempt to control, the defence expenditure in the interests of all of us?

Mr. Lloyd

I think that the point raised by the hon. Member would be very material on the Second Reading of the Defence Bill which I have announced. I will certainly consider what he has said.

Mr. Wigg

If it is a fact that discussion of this kind will be in order on Second Reading of that Bill, I should be entirely satisfied.

Mr. Stratton Mills

Has my right hon. and learned Friend seen the Motion, standing in my name and relating to a matter of privilege, concerning an attempt by a public authority to exert improper pressure on a Member of Parliament? If so, will he give time to facilitate the investigation of this matter?

[That this House expresses its displeasure at the issue by British European Airways of a Writ of Summons dated 7th August, 1963, against the Belfast News Letter arising from a comment by the honourable Member for Belfast, North, subsequent to the tabling of a parliamentary question and deplores this attempt to prevent bona fide criticism of a public authority by a Member of Parliament; further regrets that British European Airways made no complaint as to the nature of the comment when published on Friday, 26th July, and did not communicate with the Belfast News Letter until after the adjournment of the House for the summer recess some eight days later on 2nd August, thus preventing the immediate raising of the issue of a breach by British European Airways of parliamentary privilege; and that the matter be referred to the Committee of Privileges.]

Mr. Lloyd

I have read the Motion, but I understand that the case has been settled. I would like to talk about it with my hon. Friend, if I may.

Mr. Manuel

Why is the Housing Bill, set down for 25th November, a United Kingdom one? It has been the custom to have separate legislation for housing matters in Scotland. To lump Scottish housing in with a United Kingdom Bill is grossly unfair, since our housing conditions are so very different. In a United Kingdom Bill we will not be able adequately to deal with the housing situation in Scotland.

Mr. Lloyd

The hon. Member is right in saying that the Bill applies to the United Kingdom as a whole, but I do not think that the other point he raised is one for me.

Dame Irene Ward

As I am rather interested in a few Bills which I want to see on the Statute Book, dealing with widows, for instance, will my right hon. and learned Friend let us have a list of the Bills which the Government have in mind, but which were not included in the Gracious Speech?

Mr. Lloyd

I will consider that suggestion.

Mr. Ross

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman consult the Home Secretary about his experiences with the Town and Country Planning Acts? Is he aware that we got so mixed up because the Government included both England and Scotland in the one Measure that we had to have a completely new one? Scotland has its own law, by right established, so would it not be better to have Scotland's housing problemsseparately considered?

Mr. Lloyd

I will consider that, but we have made our plans to go on with this as a United Kingdom Bill and I cannot hold out much hope for any change.

Mr. E. Johnson

Does my right hon. and learned Friend recall that the former Prime Minister indicated on 1st August that he hoped to make a statement within two months on the subject of Service pensions, particularly with reference to widows? Can my right hon. and learned Friend now say when that statement will be made?

Mr. Lloyd

I cannot do so at this moment, but I know that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has this matter in mind.

Mr. W. Hamilton

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman give an undertaking, because of the great number of Questions, down for the Prime Minister, that the Prime Minister will come to the House more than two days a week in order to let us know what his thoughts are?

Mr. Lloyd

I believe that the present arrangement has worked very well.

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