HC Deb 16 January 1964 vol 687 cc410-7
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)

Ye s, Sir. The business for next week will be as follows:

MONDAY, 20TH JANUARY—Second Reading of the New Towns Bill, and Committee stage of the Money Resolution. Remaining stages of the Defence (Transfer of Functions) Bill.

TUESDAY, 21ST JANUARY—Second Reading of the Plant Varieties and Seeds Bill [Lords], and Committee stage of the Money Resolution, which it is hoped to obtain by 7 o'clock.

And, the remaining stages of the Industrial Training Bill.

WEDNESDAY, 22ND JANUARY—Second Reading of the Family Allowances and National Insurance Bill, and Committee stage of the Money Resolution.

Motions on the Local Government Luton and Solihull Orders.

THURSDAY, 23RD JANUARY—Remaining stages of the Export Guarantees Bill, the Legal Aid Bill, and the Shipbuilding Credit Bill

FRIDAY, 24TH JANUARY—Private Members' Motions.

MONDAY, 27TH JANUARY—The business proposed is Second Reading of the Consolidated Fund Bill.

Mr. Wilson

Can the Leader of the House tell us what time the Government propose to allocate, and when, to debate the statement made by the President of the Board of Trade yesterday about resale price maintenance, monopolies, and other things? Secondly, in view of the fanfare of trumpets with which the Government greeted the Robbins Report, now three months ago, and as they have not in all that period even been able to decide which Minister is to be responsible for higher education, will he say how soon we can expect a debate on higher education so that we can begin to inject some sense of urgency into the Government on this question?

Mr. Lloyd

Both of those topics are suitable for debate by the House of Commons, and I think advantage must be taken of the usual channels to see what opportunities can be found; certainly not next week.

Mr. Wilson

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman trying to tell the House, after this statement yesterday by the Presidentof the Board of Trade—which raises very big issues, and which, we gather, has given rise to a great deal of controversy, at any rate, on the other side—that it is for the Opposition to provide time for that subject to be debated?

Mr. Lloyd

I did not say that at all. My right hon. Friend indicated that there would be a Bill. All I can say is that neither of those topics can be debated next week; but subsequent opportunities can be examined.

Mr. Grimond

Can the Leader of the House tell us whois to be responsible for higher education and when an announcement will be made?

Mr. Lloyd

Not in the statement of business for next week.

Mr. Wigg

Is the Leader of the House aware of the Motion, in the names of myself and a number of my hon. Friends, asking for a Select Committee to inquire into a Canberra replacement of the TSR2? Can he hold out any hope at all about a debate on this very important subject?

[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 thought that I would wait and see what was said about that today.

Mr. Woodnutt

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware of Motion 37, in the names of myself and some of my hon. Friends, drawing attention to the plight of ex-colonial servants who worked in Ghana? Is he aware that President Nkrumah has made a savage cut of 7s. in the £ from their pensions, which he calls a tax, and can my right hon. and learned Friend give the House time to debate the matter?

[That this House, recognising the residual moral responsibility of Her Majesty's Government to ex-Gold Coast civil servants, urges Her Majesty's Government to take immediate action to protect individual pensioners against the hardship imposed on them by the recent action of President Nkrumah in making, unilaterally, a severe reduction in their rates of pension.]

Mr. Lloyd

Discussions are taking place at the present time with the Ghana authorities, and I think that a debate would be quite inappropriate while those discussions are taking place.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Can the Leader of the House tell us what business he has for 19th March? Does he not think that, for the convenience of hon. Members opposite, they should have some idea of the date of their own funeral?

Mr. Lloyd

The announcement of business for 19th March will be made at the appropriate time.

Mr. Mellish

The Leader of the House will be aware that, since 1960, we have been awaiting legislation to confirm the International Convention on Safety of Life at Sea, and he was present yesterday when there were exchanges between his right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport and ourselves. Can he say whether he can change the business for next week so as to have matters of this kind dealt with quickly?

Mr. Lloyd

I am afraid that I cannot change the business for next week, and I have nothing at the moment to add to what was said yesterday.

Mr. Mellish

That was nothing.

Mr. Milne

Will the Leader of the House consider giving an opportunity to discuss the Motion, signed by hon. Members on both sides of the House, in regard to advertising cigarettes on TV, particularly in view of the recent American Report and of the fact that it is today reported that even juke-box advertisers have now decided to remove cigarette advertising from juke boxes in this country?

[That this House, gravely concerned at the expenditure of large sums of money on the advertising of cigarettes, and at the impact of such advertising on young people, in view of the proven dangers to health, including cancer, caused by cigarette smoking, urges Her Majesty's Government to stop all cigarette advertising on commercial television as a first step towards restricting such advertising on all media.]

Mr. Lloyd

I am aware of the Motion and of the large number of signatures that have been attached to it, but I am afraid that I cannot promise Government time to debate it.

Mr. Pavitt

Can the Leader of the House give further consideration to discussing the Motion in my name? Does he recall that last week he advised me to await the reply of the Prime Minister? The Prime Minister has judged that there is no case, but it is the job of the Leader of the House to protect the rights of back benchers and for justice to be seen to be done. That being so, will he look at this matter again, with a view, if not of finding time to debate it, at least of allowing the Select Committee on Procedure to look at it, in order to satisfy back benchers as well as Front Benchers?

[That this House is of the opinion that answers to oral Questions asked by Members should not be given to the Press for publication before the Member receives such Answers; and urges that a Select Committee should be set up to look into the matter.]

Mr. Lloyd

I remember the answer I gave to the hon. Gentleman just before the Christmas Adjournment, and I also saw what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said. I am, in principle, completely with the hon. Gentleman; I think it is undesirable that Answers should be given out before they can be announced in this House, and I would be very willing to discuss the facts of this particular case with the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Callaghan

What degree of importance do the Government attach to the question of legislation on the safety of life at sea, as they have had the subject under consideration for four years? As the Government's programme is so flexible that they can now put forward a new Measure on resale price maintenance, are we to assume that they regard the safety of life at sea as being less important? Recent events at sea should surely have convinced them of the necessity of such legislation. Does not the right hon. and learned Gentleman recognise that, unless this country ratifies it, the Convention cannot come into force for the world as a whole,so that there is an international responsibility bearing on the Government, as well as a national one?

Mr. Lloyd

I am aware of the importance of the matter and the issues at stake. I will take account of what the hon. Gentleman has just said, but I cannot alter the business for next week.

Mr. E. L. Mallalieu

Has the Leader of the House noticed that no fewer than 140 hon. Members have already signed the Motion relating to the Channel Tunnel and asking for an early decision? Can he not give an early indication of when we may discuss it?

[That this House, noting that the report of the British and French officials about a fixed Channel link advises that the twin-rail tunnel, providing special facilities for road vehicles, is the most practicable and economic of all solutions and also preferable to substantial expenditure on developing existing cross-Channel services; convinced that such a link is of vital importance to the beneficial development of British communications and trade with all parts of Europe and essential to deal with growing cross-channel traffic congestion, urges that Her Majesty's Government should now, jointly with the French Government reach a decision in principle, in favour of proceeding with such a tunnel, so that precise plans can be made forthwith for its construction and financing under arrangements satisfactory to both Governments.]

Mr. Lloyd

I am afraid that all I can say is "Not next week".

Mr. A. Lewis

Can the Leader of the House assure us that the Government and the Cabinet are keeping him in touch with everything that is happening with regard to Parliamentary business? I ask that question because in today's newspaper the former Leader of the House has said that there was no consultation with him on vital matters affecting the business of the House, and goes on to say, in effect, that the Patronage Secretary is a liar—

Mr. Speaker

Order. We must, in the general interests, confine business questions to business.

Mr. Lewis

Mr. Speaker, I am asking whether or not the Leader of the House has been kept informed by and is in the confidence of the Government, be cause other hon. Members—[Interruption.] Can I ask whether or not the attention of the Leader of the House has been drawn to the fact—[Interruption.] I am on business—

Mr. Speaker

Order. Let me hear the hon. Gentleman's question, and we shall see.

Mr. Lewis

On Monday week, there is to be a debate on the Consolidated Fund Bill. Will the Leader of the House make provision to be present, together withthe former Leader of the House, so that we may discuss here to what extent the House is kept in ignorance of what is happening with regard to Parliamentary business, as revealed by the former Leader of the House in today's Spectator?

Mr. Lloyd

I will consider the hon. Gentleman's suggestion with the attention it merits.

Mr. Ross

May we have an assurance from the Leader of the House that the Bills to be given a Second Reading next week will not be sent to Standing Committee but will be considered in Committee on the Floor of the House? Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that, at present, almost every Committee Room is taken up, that the clerks must be pretty well stretched in order to man the Committees, and that the same applies to many of theMinisters? Is he aware also that it is becoming quite impossible for some hon. Members, who, because of the nature of things, must duplicate their membership of Committees, to race from the Westminster Hall from one important Committee which is sitting there to Room No. 12, No. 14, or wherever it may be where other Committees are sitting? Will the Leader of the House pay close attention to this problem with particular reference to the Second Readings next week, bearing in mind that the Motion to take the Committee stage on the Floor of the House must be put at that stage?

Mr. Lloyd

If I may say so, I think the hon. Gentleman has raised an important point. I shall look into it.

Mr. Mellish

The Leader of the House said that he was aware of the importance of safety at sea and the need for the Convention to be applied. Does he realise that that can be done only by legislation passed by the House, as the Minister said yesterday, and will he therefore, give an assurance now that, if it is not to be taken next week, it will be taken the week after?

Mr. Lloyd

I said that I would consider the point.

Mr. Webster

Is the Leader of the House aware that I have a Bill on the subject of safety at sea to be taken on 13th March and that it is very much hoped that the Opposition will support it and that Government time will be given during the Committee stage?

Mr. Lloyd

My hon. Friend has drawn attention to a fact which is not absent from my mind.

Dr. Bray

Can the Leader of the House say whether the Government will find time to debate the recent important White Paper on Public Expenditure proposals for the next six years?

Mr. Lloyd

Not next week; but I think that that is a matter which can be considered through the usual channels.

Mr. Loughlin

Will the Leader of the House consider the possibility of debating the present situation in Aden, where the Aden T.U.C. leaders are now in gaol? Could he change the order of business for next week, in view of the urgency of the situation?

Mr. Lloyd

I shall consider that suggestion, but I can only say, as I have said before, "Not next week."

Mr. Fernyhough

Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman tell us whether. on Monday week, business on the Consolidated Fund Bill will be taken formally, being followed by a debate, or whether there will be the traditional free-for-all with no time limit until hon. Members have exhausted their complaints about the Administration?

Mr. Lloyd

That is really a matter for the House, not for me.