HC Deb 13 February 1964 vol 689 cc557-64
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, 17TH FEBRUARY—Supply [6th Allotted Day]: Committee stage of the Supplementary Estimates which, if the House agrees, will be taken formally to allow debate on an Opposition Motion on Government Expenditure in the Field of Aviation.

TUESDAY, 18TH FEBRUARY—Second Reading of the Hire Purchase (No. 2) Bill [Lords].

WEDNESDAY, 19TH FEBRUARY—Remaining stages of the Succession (Scotland) Bill, and of the Rating (Interim Relief) Bill.

THURSDAY, 20TH FEBRUARY—SecondReading of the Emergency Powers Bill.

Remaining stages of the War Damage Bill.

FRIDAY, 21ST FEBRUARY—Private Members' Motions.

MONDAY, 24TH FEBRUARY—The proposed business will be: Supply [7th Allotted Day]: Committee stage of the Civil Estimates and Estimates for Revenue Departments Vote on Account, 1964–65, when, at the request of the Opposition, there will be a debate on the Provision for the Ministry for Science.

It may be convenient for the House to know that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will open his Budget on Tuesday, 14th April.

Mr. Brockway

As the Leader of the House is not able to give facilities for my Bill against racial discrimination and incitement, will he, as a little compensation, allow time for discussion of a Motion on the Order Paper, signed by 56 hon. Members, on the subject of religious discrimination in Northern Ireland?

[That this House asks Her Majesty's Government to advise the appointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into the allegations of religious discrimination in the composition of public authorities and corporations and their practices, and in housing, employment and other spheres in Northern Ireland and to recommend appropriate action.]

Mr. Lloyd

I do not think that the hon. Gentleman will be very surprised if I say that I cannot hold out very much hope for that.

Mr. Stratton Mills

Following on the request made by the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway), if my right hon. and learned Friend thought fit to have a debate on that subject, would he particularly bear in mind that Ulster Members of the House would welcome the opportunity of refuting these wild and inaccurate statements?

Mr. Lloyd

However that may be, I can give no promise of Government time.

Mr. Jay

As it is now three weeks since the right hon. and learned Gentleman promised us a Bill dealing with resale price maintenance within four weeks, can he say whether that Bill will be published next week?

Mr. Lloyd

I see no reason to alter my original suggestion to the House.

Mr. Wade

Will the Leader of the House say whether the promised White Paper on monopolies will be published before the Bill, at the same time, or after it?

Mr. Lloyd

I have nothing to add to what I have said on the matter.

Mr. F. Noel-Baker

Has the right hon. and learned Gentleman had his attention drawn to the strong dissatisfaction felt on this side of the House with the remarks of the Economic Secretary in the debate on the International Development Association Bill last Tuesday? Will he note that a number of hon. Members on this side are very anxious for a wider debate on technical assistance and development aid to the underdeveloped countries?

Mr. Lloyd

There have been considerable opportunities, but I have also taken note of what the hon. Member has said.

Sir B. Janner

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman reconsider his decision about facilities for the introduction of the racial discrimination and incitement Bill of my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway), particularly as there has been a difference of opinion in two courts as to whether the words "Hitler was right", with their horrible implications, used by street vendors selling a publication similar to Die Stürmer were actionable? Will he do something to enable the House to consider the question of altering the law so that that type of thing cannot be countenanced by any court?

Mr. Lloyd

The hon. Gentleman is really trying to involve me in a discussion of policy matters and matters of construction. I am dealing with the business of the House. In that respect, I am in the hands of the House, but we are facing a period now when, until Easter, certainly, Parliamentary time will be dominated by the needs of the business of Supply.

Mr. C. Pannell

Will the Leader of the House consider a full day's debate on the activities of the Ministry of Public Building and Works? Will he bear in mind that some hon. Members are interested in the threat, or promise—whichever way one looks at it—to pull down the Foreign Office and build something else in its place? We want to debate the proposed Parliamentary precincts. Also, in view of the imminent publication by the N.E.D.C. of the document on the building industry, and its capacity to meet the priorities of any Government—this or the next—does he not think that this is a useful subject for a debate, and one concerning the whole House?

Mr. Lloyd

It may very well be a useful subject of debate, but in view of what I have just said I really cannot hold out any promise of wider debate before the Easter Adjournment. I understand that you, Mr. Speaker, may have it in mind soon to appoint your Advisory Committee to consider the question of accommodation for the House of Commons, which may cover at least part of the hon. Member's question.

Mr. H. Wilson

Since the Government, to play out time, have just resurrected some 40-year-old proposals for legisla tion—however welcome—cannot they also find time in accordance with the same desire, to give full discussion, with a view to early legislation on the lines of the Bill introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway)?

Mr. Lloyd

I have already given my answer to that. I should have thought that the right hon. Gentleman would have been careful before referring to resuscitated problems and doctrines 40 years old.

Mr. Wilson

If the right hon. and learned Gentleman thinks that he is being funny, of course, there is nothing we can do about it, but is he aware that the continual evading and ducking the question of legislation to deal with racial incitement that he and his predecessors have now been doing for the last three years is not satisfactory to the House? It really is not good enough for him to say that we are now caught up by Supply time. The Government have failed to deal with this matter for three years. Will the Leader of the House now say that he accepts the principle of the Bill, and the principle of giving it Government time when Government time permits?

Mr. Speaker

Not on business. We cannot discuss principle now, or we get out of the scope of business questions.

Mr. Shinwell

The right hon. and learned Gentleman did not think it inappropriate to business to refer to the introduction of the Budget on 14th April, so it is presumably permissible to ask: does that really mean that we are not to have a General Election before that date?

Mr. Lloyd

The right hon. Gentleman must draw his own conclusions.

Mr. Wigg

Will the Leader of the House tell the House whether a defence debate is to take place on 26th and 27th February? If that is so, and assuming that he has read the White Paper, does he not think it an absolute outrage that statements involving the expenditure of large sums of public money are not included in the White Paper, but are to be announced shortly—presumably by the Minister of Defence in the defence debate—so that the country can be persuaded that defence costs have not risen above the £2,000 million mark? Have not practices of the kind implicit in the whole concept of the White Paper, and the form of its presentation, landed a considerable number of people in Dartmoor?

Mr. Lloyd

My statement dealt with the business for next week. The defence White Paper will not be debated next week, but I think that the hon. Gentleman could draw a possible inference that it may be debated not many days later.

Mr. Wigg

I am asking the right hon. and learned Gentleman whether, before the debate takes place, the House will be told what these projects are, for, as we all know, they cost astronomical sums, or is this information to be reserved until the country and the House have been lulled into believing that the Government have not increased the defence bill, when, of course, they have done so?

Mr. Lloyd

That is not a question on business for next week.

Mr. H Wilson

On business for next week, and so that the defence debate, when it comes, need not be too frustrated by Government obscurantism on the lines mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg), would it not be possible, for example, during Monday's debate on Government expenditure on aviation, for the Minister to announce what financial commitment the House is being asked to support, instead of leaving it until the debate? If there is a deficiency, as I understand, in the White Paper, could we not have a promise that during next week's business there will be a statement to make this good?

Referring to a point which I have raised before, and again on next week's business, since we are to have the Succession (Scotland) Bill taking all of Wednesday, would the Leader of the House give priority next Wednesday to the Bill dealing with racial incitement?

Mr. Lloyd

The right hon. Gentleman is not correct. Wednesday's business includes not only the remaining stages of the Succession (Scotland) Bill, but also the Rating (Interim Relief) Bill, which is of considerable importance.

As for the first part of the right hon. Gentleman's question, I will, of course, convey the point to my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Frank Allaun

The defence statement issued this afternoon proposes an increase of £161 million a year, which many hon. Members will think excessive even for this Government. May I ask the Leader of the House when the debate will take place? Since this is, I believe, the largest increase in this expenditure ever to take place in a single year in peace time may I ask whether special facilities will be given to the debate on this occasion, for instance, an extension of time?

Mr. Lloyd

I will certainly consider that suggestion, but I must stick to my position that I am announcing business for next week and that this time next week I will announce business for the following week.

Mr. H. Wilson

It is about time that we got some of this matter straight with the right hon. and learned Gentleman. Is it not a fact that in the statement on business he announces exactly what he regards as convenient to the Government? If he was allowed to announce three weeks ago the date of the Bill on resale price maintenance, four weeks ahead, why are hon. Members strictly confined to the five days under review?

Mr. Lloyd

That is remarkably ungrateful of the right hon. Gentleman. I gave an indication of the time of that Bill only in answer to questions by him and his right hon. Friends, for their convenience and to help them.

Mr. Wigg

Is not the point raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) strictly a matter for you, Mr. Speaker? What is announced must be in accordance with the rules of the House, and those rules must be interpreted by you.

Mr. Speaker

The rule of the House is that a supplementary question must arise out of the answer, and the answer relates to the business for next week. If an hon. Member can get beyond next week by ingenuity, his success in keeping in order must depend on the degree of ingenuity he attains.

Sir B. Stross

In answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell, the Leader of the House announced that it would not be possible to discuss the redevelopment of the Whitehall area before the Easter Recess. Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman reconsider this, as this is a great ceremonial centre of the whole of the Commonwealth? There is great interest in it and some good might come out of it if we were to discuss the matter in the House.

Mr. Lloyd

I do not disagree with what the hon. Member has said. It is a question of timing. I have already said, Mr. Speaker, that you will be announcing your decision about your advisory committee. That is an important element and when that is announced some progress may be made and there may well be an opportunity for a wider debate.

Mr. Ross

On business next week, will the Leader of the House arrange for the Law Officers of the Crown to look at the statement made last night by the Postmaster-General, which, to my mind, affects the freedom of the House to adjudicate on a Statutory Instrument? If what the right hon. Gentleman said is true, it will be possible for a Government Department to introduce a Statutory Instrument in such a way as to evade the freedom of the House to vote on a particular aspect of it. Will the Leader of the House ask the Law Officers to examine that statement and make a statement to the House next week?

Mr. Lloyd

That appears to be a question on the business of this week, but I will certainly look into the point.

Mr. Woodburn

Will the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary be available for Questions next week?

Mr. Lloyd

I sincerely hope so.

Mr. Warbey

On the business for 14th April, can the right hon. and learned Gentleman say whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer will then explain the reasons for the enormous increase in defence expenditure to which my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) referred? Will hon. Members have an opportunity before that date of proposing to reduce the Estimates?

Mr. Lloyd

My right hon. Friend will say what he considers appropriate to the occasion.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Is the Leader of the House aware that the Titles (Abolition) Bill is to come up for consideration but that before it can be considered it appears from the Notice Paper that the Queen's consent is to be signified? Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that I have tried my best to obtain the Queen's consent through the Home Secretary, but that the Home Secretary has not yet replied and said what advice he has given to Her Majesty? Is it possible that this can be speeded up so that I can obtain consent by four o'clock tomorrow afternoon?

Mr. Lloyd

I heard of the possibility of the hon. Member asking this question. I understand that he is in correspondence with my right hon. Friend and I have nothing to add to that.

Mr. Mendelson

Does the Leader of the House not recall that, when we were under the guidance of his predecessor, several hon. Members demanded, before a previous defence debate, that the fullest documentation be published on the ground that if certain documentation was provided only when the debate took place they would be unable to look at the documents beforehand? Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman give an assurance that he will convey to the Minister of Defence the need to publish all the documents well in time before the debate?

Mr. Lloyd

Certainly, if any reasonable request is put to me I will convey it to my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Mackie

Could the Leader of the House spare the Patronage Secretary five minutes to apply for some by-election writs?

Mr. Lipton

In accordance with well-established precedent, may I ask, although it is not connected with next week's business, whether the attention of the Leader of the House has been drawn to a Motion on the Order Paper relating to religious discrimination in Northern Ireland signed by about 60 hon. Members, including myself, and whether he will find time, if not next week then very soon afterwards, for a discussion of the Motion?

Mr. Lloyd

I do not think that the hon. Member could have been listening. That point has already been dealt with.