HC Deb 16 April 1964 vol 693 cc595-601
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, 20TH APRIL—Conclusion of the general debate on the Budget Resolutions and the Economic Situation.


Committee stage.

Also, on Tuesday, the Report stage of the Budget Resolutions.

FRIDAY, 24TH APRIL—Private Members's Bills.

MONDAY, 27TH APRIL—The proposed business will be:

Consideration of private Members' Motions until seven o'clock.

Afterwards, debate on an Opposition Motion on the Draft Order in Council on the British Guiana Constitution.

Mr. Wilson

Will the Leader of the House say what plans he has for an early debate on the Special Report of the Public Accounts Committee on the Ferranti question?

Also, will he say when he intends to provide Government time to debate the Government's dithering on the atomic nuclear reactor programme and the gross failures of the Government in regard to the maritime reactor?

Mr. Lloyd

I do not, of course, accept the right hon. Gentleman's epithets or descriptions. I shall consider the possibility of debate on these matters. The Report of the Public Accounts Committee was, I think, published only at eleven o'clock this morning. I think that we have, according to precedent, two days still available for discussion of Reports of the Estimates Committee and Public Accounts Committee. I shall certainly consider how a debate on that matter can be fitted into the programme, and r shall consider the right hon. Gentleman's other point, also.

Sir G. Nicholson

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that he made a slight error at the beginning of his answer and that, in fact, the two days which remain are, I believe, the property of the Estimates Committee?

I have two other questions. First, has my right hon. and learned Friend any news for me about the issues which arise in connection with Statutory Instruments? Secondly, would it not be a pity if a Report of a Select Committee became a political document? If there is to be a debate on the Ferranti question, should it not be done separately and apart from the Report of the Public Accounts Committee, bearing in mind that both the Estimates Committee and the Public Accounts Committee work entirely on non-party lines or all-party lines call it what one likes—and party politics do not enter into their discussions and considerations at all?

Mr. Lloyd

I think that my hon. Friend is absolutely right in what he said towards the end of his question.

As regards his first remark, I have been looking into this matter. I think that it was my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary who suggested to the House that it should have three days for debates on Reports of the Public Accounts Committee and the Estimates Committee. I admit that, by convention, up to now, it has been the practice to have one for the Public Accounts Committee and two for the Estimates Committee, but I do not think that this is an absolutely established rule. That is why I said that it was a matter which we could discuss.

My hon. Friend referred also to the question of a debate on the Report of the Select Committee on Statutory Instruments. I hope that that debate will take place at ten o'clock next Monday.

Mr. Wade

Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman say when a debate will take place on the White Paper on Monopolies and Restrictive Practices?

Mr. Lloyd

Not next week, but as soon as it can be managed.

Dame Irene Ward

When my right hon. and learned Friend is planning the future programme, will he refrain front paying too much attention to the time which is demanded by the Opposition, but bear in mind that there are one or two very important Bills which this side of the House would like to be considered and put on the Statute Book before the next General Election? If he would like me to tell him what they are, I should be delighted to do so.

Mr. Lloyd

I should be delighted if my hon. Friend would come to see me some time.

Mr. Shinwell

Will the Leader of the House make a rather less ambiguous and more specific pronouncement on when the right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport will make the promised statement on the improper intervention by the American Maritime Commission in British shipping?

Mr. Lloyd

I think that I am right in saying that there was a recent Written Answer on that matter in which my right hon. Friend revealed that representations have now been made to the United States Government. No reply has yet been received. I shall convey to my right hon. Friend what the right hon. Gentleman has said. I think it important that a statement should be made as soon as there is further information to give.

Dame Irene Ward

My Question yesterday.

Mr. G. Johnson Smith

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that there are many hon. Members who wish to debate the South-East Study? Could he undertake to arrange a debate soon?

Mr. Lloyd

I quite agree that this is a very suitable candidate for a debate.

Mr. Albu

May I press the right hon. and learned Gentleman about a debate on the nuclear power programme, in view of the absolute inadequacy of the White Paper which was published yesterday, which has been described today by Lord Coleraine as complacent, misleading and evasive?

Mr. Lloyd

I have already said that I shall consider the possibility of a debate.

Mr. W. Yates

Does my right hon. and learned Friend recall that, last week, I drew his attention to the debate in the Security Council on South-West Arabia, and will he take note of the Question on the Order Paper with reference to Her Majesty's Government's policy in South-West Arabia? In view of our enormous commitments there, is it not right and proper that the House should have a debate on this subject very soon?

Mr. Lloyd

I think that, within the comparatively near future, there should be a debate on foreign affairs; I certainly hope to arrange for one.

Mr. G. Thomas

Has the Leader of the House seen on the Order Paper the Motion in the names of my right hon. and hon. Friends and myself concerning the sale of land in the capital of Wales? Is he aware that a Scotsman has sold a slice of Cardiff to an English site development company? Does he realise that there is considerable feeling on this matter in the Principality? Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman give us the opportunity to debate the Motion and link with it the question of leasehold by the same absentee ground landlord?

[That this House, noting with concern the continued increase in the cost of land in Cardiff at a rate much above the national average, and noting the recent highly programme sale by an absentee ground landlord, who had done nothing to increase the value of the land, of an important half-acre site in central Cardiff to a London property company with no other interest in Cardiff, calls for early legislation to prevent any further such exploitation of the current land shortage.]

Mr. Lloyd

I am not quite certain of the circumstances of the case to which the hon. Gentleman refers, whether this is a site which was offered to the Cardiff Corporation which it turned down or refused to buy not very long ago; but I shall discuss the matter with the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. McMaster

In arranging the future timetable, will my right hon. and learned Friend see whether he can give Government time for at least a half-day debate on Northern Ireland, as was done last year?

Mr. Lloyd

I shall consider that suggestion, too.

Mr. Snow

Has the Leader of the House seen the Motion on the Order Paper, standing in the names of hon. Members on both sides of the House, on the subject of intensive animal husbandry and the recent public disclosure of nauseating practices in connection with factory farming?

[That this House notes with disquiet the conditions under which large numbers of animals and birds are now reared intensively for human consumption and the practice of supplementing their diets with non-nutritive additives; and urges Her Majesty's Government to consider whether steps should not now be taken to regulate some of these methods of husbandry.]

Mr. Lloyd

I cannot offer any prospect of a debate next week on that Motion.

Mr. Milne

Apart from the Resale Prices Bill, what else will the House be discussing between now and the General Election?

Mr. Lloyd

Quite a lot of things.

Mr. Holt

In view of the decision to put off the election until the autumn, is it now the Government's intention to introduce in this Session of Parliament a Bill relating to monopolies, mergers and restrictive practices?

Mr. Lloyd

The first thing to do on that matter is to debate the White Paper, which we shall find time to do.

Mr. Rankin

In view of the evident desire in the House to discuss a great number of interesting topics, will the Leader of the House consider reducing the length of the Recess at Whitsun?

Mr. Lloyd

No announcement has yet been made about any Recess at Whitsun.

Mr. Parkin

With reference to Motion No. 95 on the Order Paper, I am not asking for a debate next week on what ought to be a non-controversial matter, but will the Leader of the House give an assurance that he is inquiring, through the usual, and unusual, channels whether this formula is acceptable? Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman bear in mind that, while this formula is intended to produce something without constitutional problems and without unacceptable precedents, it is very much ad hominem? The House is very glad to know that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) likes being among us and it ought to be able to say officially that it feels that this situation can be prolonged as long as the right hon. Gentleman wishes it?

[That, mindful of changes in the role of the peerage in public affairs, this House considers that the hospitality it can extend to distinguished ex-Members of the Commons should not be linked with membership of another place, and resolves to offer to former First Lords of the Treasury privileges, including use of refreshment facilities and a special gallery near to the Bar of the Chamber, similar to those available to ex-M.P. Members of the House of Lords.]

Mr. Lloyd

I have studied the terms of the Motion in the name of the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends. There probably is a general feeling in the House that it would wish to mark its appreciation of the services of people such as those to whom the Motion refers, but the exact method is, I think, for consultation, as the hon. Gentleman suggested, not only through the usual channels but also, possibly, through unusual ones.

Mr. Lipton

If not next week, can the Leader of the House say when the House is likely to receive the report of the Committee of Privileges?

Mr. Lloyd

The Committee has had several meetings. It is trying to get on with its task as expeditiously as possible, but I cannot say when its report will be received.

Mr. Frank Allaun

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that this morning, at Geneva, the American Government made a very important proposal about freezing the production of nuclear missiles? As the Foreign Secretary has now gone to the bottom of the list for Questions, will the Government consider making a statement so that the House can discuss this vital matter at an early date?

Mr. Lloyd

I will certainly consider the point which the hon. Member has made.