HC Deb 23 April 1964 vol 693 cc1506-13
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, 27TH APRIL—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.

TUESDAY, 28TH APRIL—Supply [14th Allotted Day]: Committee.

A debate on Maritime Nuclear Propulsion.

As the House is aware, the Chairman of Ways and Means has set down opposed Private Business for consideration at seven o'clock.

Motions on the Price Stability of Imported Products Orders.

WEDNESDAY, 29TH APRIL—Debate on a Government Motion on the Second Report from the Public Accounts Committee, Session 1963–64, on Guided Weapons Contracts, House of Commons Paper No. 183.

If, as hoped, the Committee stage of the Resale Prices Bill is disposed of today, then the business on THURSDAY, 30TH APRIL, will be Second Reading of the Drugs (Prevention of Misuse) Bill, and of the Perpetuities and Accumulations Bill [Lords].

If there is time, the remaining stages of the Criminal Appeal Bill [Lords], and the Administration of Justice Bill [Lords].

FRIDAY, 1ST MAY—Private Members' Motions.

MONDAY, 4TH MAY—The proposed business will be: Supply [15th Allotted Day]: Committee.

Debate on the South-East Study and the White Paper on South-East England (Command No. 2308).

Mr. H. Wilson

While a debate on perpetuities and accumulations will be highly appropriate in present circumstances, is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that in the debate on Wednesday, on the Report of the Public Accounts Committee, it is the intention of the Opposition to table an Amendment to the Government's Motion—whatever it is—of a censorious character on the failure of the Government to protect the taxpayer in this matter?

Further, is the right hon. and learned Gentleman prepared to provide facilities at an early date for a debate, which I am sure that the whole House will want to have, on the question of Southern Rhodesia?

Mr. Lloyd

I have taken note of what the right hon. Gentleman said at the beginning of his supplementary ques- tion and I will also take note of the second part.

Mr. F. M. Bennett

Has my right hon. and learned Friend noticed the Motion on the Order Paper concerning the pay of pharmacists, which has been signed by over two dozen Conservative Members? [That this House urges the Minister of Health in his current review of remuneration to pharmacists for National Health Service dispensing, in providing for a fair intrinsic profit element, to include adequate provision to cover all overhead expenses of the services rendered so as to obviate the need for pharmacists to have to sell other non-pharmaceutical goods to subsist.]

As the Government have now generously acceded to the terms of the Motion, will my right hon. and learned Friend take note of the fact that we shall not now require to debate the matter?

Secondly, in view of talk recently about the political courage needed for by-elections, can my right hon. and learned Friend say whether a Writ has been issued for the Scotland Division of Liverpool? If not, will the Opposition pluck up courage to do so?

Mr. Lloyd

The type of question suggesting that a matter need not be debated is most welcome.

As I have previously said, it is not wise to forecast or prophesy whether or not particular Writs are to be issued.

Mr. G. Thomas

In view of the mounting evidence of renewed pressure by ground landlords on leaseholds in South Wales, and as it is a very long time since the House discussed the leasehold problem, will the right hon. and learned Gentleman say whether we are to have an opportunity between now and July to discuss this question?

Mr. Lloyd

The hon. Gentleman raised this matter last week, when I suggested that he and I might have a talk about it. I am very disappointed that he has not contacted me about it.

Mr. Thomas

With great respect to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, that was another question, but I will be very pleased to see him if there is any chance of a debate on leasehold. I will see him after business questions have finished.

Mr. Lloyd

I am always delighted to see the hon. Gentleman, but his question today sounded very like the question he put last week.

Mr. J. Morris

Has the right hon. and learned Gentleman seen the Motion on the Notice Paper inviting the steel companies who are now indulging in an anti-public ownership advertising spending spree to publicise the views of the Prime Minister on that part of the industry still remaining under public ownership—Richard Thomas and Baldwins—and his confidence in its record to date? Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman arrange a debate on current political advertising, which is making a mockery of the Representation of the People Act?

[That this House, noting that the publicly-owned coal industry is shortly to assist both the privately- and publicly-owned sectors of the steel industry by reducing the price of coking coal by 2s. 6d. per ton and the congratulatory terms of that part of the Chancellor's Budget speech announcing this saying that it was encouraging that the National Coal Board was able to make this reduction and that it was a useful contribution towards keeping industrial costs competitive and provided a foundation upon which to work, and also noting that the Prime Minister in answer to a question on 24th March, 1964, confirmed that he had confidence both in the management and efficiency to date of that part of the steel industry which still remains in public ownership, namely Richard Thomas and Baldwin's, invites the British Iron and Steel Federation, the Steel Company of Wales, Dorman Long's, Stewart and Lloyd's and other organisations indulging in anti-nationalisation advertising to devote one-tenth of their expenditure to publicising the above views of Her Majesty's Government on the success of industries in public ownership.]

Mr. Lloyd

I think that a debate on the whole question of nationalisation might be very timely.

Sir H. Legge-Bourke

Can my right hon. and learned Friend say whether it in intended to publish the Report of the Study Group under the chairmanship of Sir Thomas Padmore and, possibly, lay a White Paper before next Tuesday's de- bate on marine nuclear propulsion? I understand that the Report is ready.

Mr. Lloyd

I think that a White Paper was laid on 15th April and that it explains that more information is needed for a decision on the type of reactor to be built, But I do not think that that will be a matter for Tuesday's debate, which will relate to marine propulsion.

Mr. H. Wilson

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that, while we considered putting the two subjects together for the one debate, we thought it right to confine it to maritime propulsion, as the debate is to cover only half a day? However, since there is a general desire in the House for a debate on power generation and the atomic reactor programme, do the Government intend to provide time to debate any White Paper on the subject that we would like to discuss?

Mr. Lloyd

I think that there is a desire in the House for a debate on this matter, and it is certainly one of the possibilities that. I shall take into account.

Mr. Ross

Is it the Government's intention at an early date to give us an opportunity of discussing the Kilbrandon Report, which was referred to by the Prime Minister as a fruitful equivalent of a Royal Commission on Scotland?

Mr. Lloyd

Certainly not next week, but I will bear in mind what the hon. Member has said.

Sir G. Nicholson

Will the Leader of the House bear in mind that a large section of opinion in the House and throughout the country views with regret the prospect of a debate on Southern Rhodesia when the situation there is exceedingly delicate and that, however good people's intentions may be it might cause a great deal of harm?

Mr. Popplewell

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the Motion on the Order Paper in the names of my hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. F. Noel-Baker) and many other hon. Members?

[That this House deplores the refusal of the Minister of Transport to allow British Railways to tender for the manufacture of wagons and containers for private rail users which has thus prevented free competition between the public and private sectors of the railway manufacturing industry.]

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware of the general dissatisfaction expressed yesterday by the Trades Union Congress about the refusal of the Minister to grant this permission? In view of the importance of the matter for the general well-being of the services concerned, will he arrange for a debate on this Motion, if not next week at an early date?

Mr. Lloyd

If there is the dissatisfaction which the hon. Member suggests there are plenty of opportunities within our ordinary procedure for the matter to be debated.

Dame Irene Ward

Will my right hon. and learned Friend return to the question put by my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke)? Is it not a fact that the Minister of Transport has promised to announce the name of the reactor to be chosen for maritime nuclear propulsion? Are we to have information about the choice of the reactor before we have the debate next week, so that we may really be able to discuss the matter with some knowledge of what we may be looking to for the future? I want that reactor to be named, if possible.

Mr. Lloyd

I do not think that this is a matter for me, but I take note of what my hon. Friend has said and I will certainly convey it to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport.

Mr. Grimond

Arising out of that question, I understand that the debate is to be confined to nuclear propulsion. If so, can the right hon. and learned Gentleman throw any light on the question when we may receive the decision of the Atomic Energy Commission about the siting of a fast reactor? There are Questions about this on the Order Paper today, one of which gives the impression that the Government might have had a hand in it. Does that mean that the decision is about to be taken? If so, will we have it by the time the matter is debated?

Mr. Lloyd

This subject has been chosen by the Opposition, and the form of the debate has not yet been precisely determined. It is a question whether certain Estimates are put down or not. I cannot add to what has been said on the matter.

Mr. McMaster

In view of the adverse trend in the unemployment figures for Northern Ireland, will my right hon. and learned Friend consider fixing an early date for a debate on Northern Ireland?

Mr. Lloyd

I am aware of my hon. Friend's request and I hope to be able to meet it.

Mr. Oram

In view of the important development this week of a monopoly in the electric lighting industry through the merger of A.E.I. and Thorne's, will the Leader of the House give much more urgent consideration to the question of a debate on the White Paper?

Mr. Lloyd

I cannot hold out any prospect for next week.

Mr. Berkeley

Can my right hon. and learned Friend tell the House whether the Government will find time for a debate on the Plowden Report?

Mr. Lloyd

Certainly not next week.

Mr. Rankin

The Leader of the House seemed rather reticent last Thursday when I asked about the Whitsun Recess. Is it a fact that this year there will be no Whitsun Recess, due to the pressure of Government business on the time of the House?

Mr. Lloyd

There is a great deal of pressure on the time of the House, as is quite apparent from the nature of the questions asked today, and the topics suggested for debate. Many important matters are awaiting debate. However, I will not be completely negative today. I think there is a possibility that there may be a Whitsuntide Recess.

Mr. W. Hamilton

Will the Leader of the House give serious consideration to his own suggestion that there should be a full day's debate on the nationalised industries, so that, among other things, we may compare the reduction in prices announced by the National Coal Board with the activities of Ferranti's?

Mr. Lloyd

The hon. Member refers to this as having been my suggestion; I was only trying to be helpful, in answer to a question that was put to me.

Mr. Albu

May I press the right hon. and learned Gentleman on the suggestion made by the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke)—in view of the obvious misunderstanding and confusion on the part of the hon. Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward)—that the Minister of Transport should publish a White Paper containing the proposals of the Padmore Committee so that the House can at least be informed of the considerations upon which we debate the matter?

Mr. Lloyd

I have said that I shall take note of that point.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman tell us whether, next week, there will be an announcement about a further exchange of prisoners? Is he aware that there is a demand from his back benches that the Prime Minister should be exchanged for Mr. Khrushchev?

Mr. Lloyd

I was in the House last week when there was some discussion about Mr. Khrushchev's political views in relation to the domestic situation of this country, but this is not really a matter for me.