HC Deb 28 November 1963 vol 685 cc475-82
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. The business for next week will be as follows:

MONDAY, 2ND DECEMBER—Second Reading of the Air Corporations Bill, and Committee stage of the Money Resolution.

TUESDAY, 3RD DECEMBER, AND WEDNESDAY, 4TH DECEMBER—Debate on Regional Development, for which the Government will be giving one day, and the Opposition allotting a Supply day.

At the end on Wednesday, Motion on the General Grant (Increase) Order.

THURSDAY, 5TH DECEMBER—Second Reading of the Harbours Bill, and Committee stage of the Money Resolution.

Remaining stages of the Electricity and Gas Bill.

FRIDAY, 6TH DECEMBER—Second Reading of the Post Office (Borrowing Powers) Bill, and of the Legal Aid Bill, and Committee stage of the Money Resolutions.

MONDAY, 9TH DECEMBER—The proposed business will be: Second Reading of the Navy, Army and Air Force Reserves Bill, and Committee stage of the Money Resolution.

Motions on the Army Act, 1955, and the Air Force Act, 1955 (Continuation) Orders.

Mr. Wilson

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether the Government Motion for the two-day debate on regional development will be drawn in terms which will not only enable the House to debate the two White Papers which we expect, but will enable hon. Members on both sides to raise problems of regional development going outside the areas covered by the White Papers?

Mr. Lloyd

The Motion will be drawn sufficiently widely to permit that.

Dame Irene Ward

Is it the intention, in the two-day debate, to take one White Paper on one day and the other White Paper on the other day, or shall we range over both White Papers? Can my right hon. and learned Friend tell me who will open and wind up the debate, as; I should like to know who is to speak to us about the North-East.

Mr. Lloyd

At the moment I am not able to tell my hon. Friend. Without doubt, the Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development will open the debate. My impression is that it would not be a case of one day being allotted to a specific White Paper in the allocation between the days.

Mr. Ross

Does the Leader of the House recollect that last week I raised the, to us, important point of the intermingling of Scottish legislation and English legislation to the detriment of representatives of both countries? Is he aware that we have had the experience of the unsatisfactory Second Reading debate on the Police Bill and that we are now faced with an even more unsatisfactory position today on the Housing Bill?

Will he take the trouble to examine the Housing Bill? If he will, he will find the complexities which arise out of the way in which it has been handled. To that must be added inaccuracy and slipshod drafting which makes the Bill, from the Scottish point of view, intolerably unintelligible? Would he, even at this late stage, look again at the possibility of separating the Scottish parts of it and sending them where they ought to go—to the Scottish Committee?

Mr. Lloyd

As the hon. Member knows, I had a long discussion with him and some of his hon. Friends about this matter yesterday. There is a genuine difficulty here, because of the burden upon the Scottish Grand Committee. As for the future, I promise to watch this matter and to see whether there are certain possibilities. We are still talking about other Bills. But I consider it quite impracticable at this stage to separate the Scottish part of the Housing Bill from other parts of the Bill. The only possibility would be to have no Housing Bill for Scotland, and I do not think that that decision would be wanted by either side of the House. It must stay as it is, but we will have, I hope, continued discussions on the other Bills.

Sir K. Thompson

May I return to the two-day debate on the White Papers on die North-East and Central Scotland and ask that the Motion should be drawn in terms which are wide enough to enable those of us who represent other areas and regions, which ought to be included, to have an opportunity of expressing our opinion? Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that the Government can be assured that there are plenty of hon. Members on this side of the House who feel equally strongly on these matters?

Mr. Lloyd

I do not think that my hon. Friend could have heard what I said—

Mr. Speaker

Order. Neither at Business Question Time nor at any other Question Time is it in order to ask a question which has been answered already.

Mr. Wigg

May I ask two questions? First, is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that when the House gave up the right of voting on Vote A on the Army Bill before the Estimates were passed it was on the agreed understanding that there would be one day each year on the Army and Air Force Act Continuation Orders, followed by a Select Committee in the fifth year? To arrange that Order as the second Order of the day is a breach of the undertaking which was given by the then Leader of the House several years ago. Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman be good enough to look at what he then said and at the negotiations which took place on that issue?

Secondly, has the right hon. and learned Gentleman observed the Early Day Motion in the name of my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) and myself calling for a Select Committee to inquire into the difficulties which have arisen from the Canberra replacement? Is he aware that in the Second Reading of the Defence Bill, last Thursday, my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) devoted a considerable part of his speech to the TSR2, as I did, and that we had no reply of any kind from the Government?

In view of what happened the other night, is it not time that the Government gave time for us to have an objective examination of this matter in the full light of public opinion so that not only the House of Commons but the country can make up their minds on the facts?

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman further aware that I was this morning invited by I.T.V. to broadcast with the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro), but that he has discovered that he has another engagement in another part of the country? May I express the earnest hope that he is not suffering from cold feet?

[That this House expresses grave concern at the failure of Her Majesty's Government to keep the House informed of the difficulties experienced in the development of the Canberra replacement and calls therefore for the appointment of a Select Committee to examine the planning, development and cost of this aircraft, with the power to call for persons, papers and records.]

Mr. Lloyd

I will certainly look into the hon. Gentleman's first point. I cannot find time next week for a debate on the Motion in the names of the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) and the hon. Gentleman, nor can I hold out high prospects of it being debated in Government time. It is a matter which can be discussed in the usual way.

Mr. P. Williams

Will my right hon. and learned Friend give an undertaking that he will consult hon. Members on both sides of the House for the greater convenience of the House on the two-day debate on regional development, for it is quite possible that some of us think that it might be to the advantage of this debate and to the regions concerned to divide the debate into two days as between Scottish and English matters?

Mr. Lloyd

I will consider any representations that are made to me, either by individual Members or through the usual channels.

Mr. Shinwell

Reverting to the second question raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg), is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that The Times this morning contains a long statement, provided by the Minister of Aviation, on the subject of the TSR2? Can he explain why the statement is conveyed to a newspaper when the Minister himself declined to answer the question during the course of last week's defence debate?

Mr. Speaker

I do not think that I can relate that to business.

Mr. Willis

As the Housing Bill cannot be separated, has the right hon. and learned Gentleman considered ways of enabling Scottish Members to play their proper part in proceedings on the Bill, because, as he knows, this affects Scotland more than England? Has any decision been made by the Government as to publishing the Scottish parts of the Bill separately after the Bill has passed through the House of Commons?

Mr. Lloyd

I believe that it would be a good thing to have a consolidation Bill to make quite clear what the law is in Scotland. I am considering the point the hon. Gentleman raised in his first question, if he was referring to the size of the Standing Committee.

Mr. McMaster

Reverting to the debate on regional development, in view of my right hon. and learned Friend's uncertainty in answering business questions last week and of the ambiguity that exists as to his reference to "this country", which may mean Great Britain not including Northern Ireland, can my right hon. Friend now confirm that the debate will cover Northern Ireland? If any White Paper is to be published dealing with the Government's plans for Northern Ireland and other parts of the country not covered by the two White Papers, will it be published before the debate?

Mr. Lloyd

The debate will certainly cover Northern Ireland. I do not think that any other White Paper is likely to be published.

Mr. K. Robinson

Is it the Government's intention to provide time to debate the very important Gillie Report on the future of the family doctor?

Mr. Lloyd

I agree with the hon. Gentleman that that is an interesting Report, but I cannot hold out very high hopes of Government time being found very quickly.

Mr. Snow

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that one feature of this Report is that it does not appear to pay quite enough attention to the problems of rural practitioners? Many of us on both sides of the House are concerned about the conditions of work of these doctors.

Mr. Lloyd

I am aware of that fact, but I do not think that it alters the answer I have just given.

Mrs. Hart

Is the Leader of the House aware that the problem of the intermingling of English and Scottish legislation is also arising on the New Towns Bill? Can he give us an assurance that he will examine the possibility of separating legislation on this matter, where the conditions are so very different in the two countries? Secondly, will he assure us that he will provide adequate time to debate the Second Reading of the Bill, since new towns have been so little discussed in the House over the years.

Mr. Lloyd

I will certainly go into that matter. I repeat my previous statement that one of the problems is the burden of work upon the Scottish Grand Committee.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

In view of the Leader of the House's sympathetic reference to the burden of work on the Scottish Grand Committee, may I ask whether he is aware that the greatest burden on the Scottish Grand Committee is the number of English Members on it?

Mr. Lloyd

Would any Welshman be a burden, too?

Mr. Rankin

May I take it from the apparently encouraging answer of the Leader of the House on the Housing Bill that it is now possible for the Committee stage of the Housing Bill to be dealt with by the Scottish Standing Committee?

Mr. Lloyd

I do not think that there is any prospect of that.

Mr. W. Hamilton

The Leader of the House will recollect that last week I asked him a question about the Hire Purchase Bill and he promised to consider the possibility of separate Scottish legislation, since the position in relation to abuses in connection with hire purchase is much more serious in Scotland than it is in England. Nevertheless, is he aware that the Hire Purchase Bill, too, brings Scotland in with the English position and that this does not in any way lighten the burden that Scottish Members have to bear, because it simply means that we will have to be dispersed among a whole series of Committees?

As this is a highly undesirable situation to be in, will he give an assurance that if he cannot produce a separate Bill for Scotland on hire purchase there will be as many Scottish Members on the Hire Purchase Bill, and more especially on the Committee stage of the Housing Bill, as there are on the Defence Bill, where it seems to me that there are far too many of us?

Mr. Lloyd

I will take into account what the hon. Gentleman has just said. As to the future, I have stated my decision about the Housing Bill. I do not think that that can be altered. I am still prepared to consider the position of the other Bills.

Mr. C. Johnson

Can the Leader of the House tell us when the White Paper on compensation for victims of crimes of violence, which has been promised by the Home Secretary and is eagerly awaited, will be made available to the House? Is there any hope of it being presented before Christmas?

Mr. Lloyd

I cannot tell the hon. Member, without notice.

Mr. Lipton

In what form will the Government announce the imminent improvements in widows' and other pensions? Will the announcement take the form of a White Paper? Will there be a statement in the House, or will the information be given in the form of private correspondence with one Member or another? Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman say exactly how the Government will announce the details of these imminent improvements?

Mr. Lloyd

I do not think that that question arises on the business for next week.

Mr. A. Lewis

Has the Leader of the House's attention been drawn to a Report which appears to have been overlooked or conveniently forgotten, the Denning Report? May we know whether this is to be debated?

Mr. Lloyd

It will be debated in the fairly near future.