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 JULY—Supply [26th Allotted Day]: Report.
A debate on the Family Doctor Service until 7.30 p.m., when the Question will be put from the Chair on the Vote under discussion and on all outstanding Votes.
Afterwards, a debate on Concessionary Fares, on an Opposition Motion.
Motions on the Thames Conservancy Orders, and on the Police Pensions (Amendment) Regulations.
TUESDAY, 28TH JULY—Second Reading of the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill, which it will be proposed should be taken formally to allow debate on an Opposition Motion on Housing and Rents.
695 Motions on the Local Government Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely, and Huntingdon and Peterborough (Amendment) Orders.
WEDNESDAY, 29TH JULY—Remaining stages of the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill.
The Opposition propose to debate the Method of Selection for Secondary Education, until about seven o'clock.
THURSDAY, 30TH JULY—Motion on the Summer Adjournment.
Afterwards we propose to facilitate consideration of the Motion on the Vestures of Ministers Measure.
FRIDAY, 31ST JULY—The House, if it has been so resolved, will rise for the Summer Adjournment.
During the week further Lords Amendments will be brought forward for consideration.
Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman inform the House, first, when the Government intend to bring forward—under the procedure which we have discussed with the Prime Minister—the Motion in respect of the forthcoming retirement of the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill), and on what day we shall debate it?
Secondly, do the Government intend to publish the Lang Report next week? When do they propose to find time to debate it? Will they now immediately institute an inquiry, with full powers, to deal with the affront to the House, for at least the fifteenth time this year, in that Ministry of Aviation business, Ministry of Aviation secret reports, Ministry of Aviation proposals to the Cabinet, whether ultimately accepted by the Cabinet or not, have been privately leaked to a single newspaper for reasons which I can only surmise?
Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman say whether the Prime Minister will be making a statement next week—the Prime Minister knows that I have raised this matter with him—about an inquiry to be held into this long succession of security leaks to the Press from one Ministry?
§ Mr. Lloyd
The Motion relating to my right hon. Friend the Member for 696 Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) will be tabled on Monday, and on Tuesday that and a related Motion will be considered.
It is hoped that the Lang Report will be published early next week. The House will gather from the nature of the programme which I have outlined that there is no time for a debate on it in Government time. The right hon. Gentleman's series of questions about an inquiry is not for me, but I will take note of his questions and convey to my right hon. Friend what he has said.
Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that this is an absolutely intolerable way to treat the House of Commons? Is he aware that when a Report came from a Select Committee, showing a wanton waste of public money, the House was fobbed off with a promise of an independent inquiry? Is he aware that since that Report has been received by the Government, and has been in the hands of the Minister of Aviation, it has been deliberately leaked to the Press? In these circumstances, does the right hon. and learned Gentleman intend to get rid of his responsibilities by saying that there is no Government time to debate it? Will he ensure that the House does have time to debate it, and in Government time, since it was a Government waste of money and a Government leak to the Press?
§ Dame Irene Ward
In view of my Motion on the London Opera Centre, will there be the usual opportunity on the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill to raise matters in which hon. Members are interested?
§ [That this House notes that on two occasions the Arts Council's briefing of its spokesmen in the controversies over the Carl Rosa Opera Company and the London Opera Centre in the House of Lords was inaccurate and that the Treasury Ministers involved refused an impartial inquiry; that the statement by Lord Cottesloe that the reasons given 697 in the Press for the decisions about the resignations of Miss Joan Cross and Miss Anne Wood were not communicated to the Governors and the Administrator before they sent in their resignations, was not correct, since the facts are that all the reasons for their decision to resign had been under constant discussion for the past three years with the former Chairman, the present Chairman, and the Director; that, shortly after the Centre was opened in September, 1963, and at the invitation of the Chairman of the Board, a routine of weekly meetings was established between the Chairman and the Misses Cross and Wood, at which all current matters concerning the Centre were reviewed, and the problems of the building, heating, ventilation, etc., were discussed, as was, in particular, the dilemma presented by the Centre's lack of a stage; that Miss Cross and Miss Wood found themselves urging the need for the students to give public performances but at the same time were adamant that the lack of a raised stage, the poor acoustics and the unsuitably large size of the auditorium made performances before the public positively disadvantageous to students, whose future careers often depend on such performances; that they naturally assumed that the gist of these discussions was placed before the Governors and the Administrator, particularly as many of their views appeared to be shared by the Chairman and Director, so that the fact that these dissatisfactions never apparently reached the Board came as a complete surprise to them; and that this House accordingly resolves that the terms under which the Arts Council is empowered to spend public money without adequate parliamentary control should be revised.]
§ Mr. Abse
Will time be given to debate the Motion in my name and the names of other hon. Members, which deals with the failure to give the House an opportunity to deal with two Clauses which were in the Divorce (Scotland) Bill?
§ [That this House regrets the decision of the Speaker in refusing to call new clauses 1 and 2 on the consideration of the Divorce (Scotland) Bill [Lords], as amended.]698
§ Sir C. Taylor
When does my right hon. and learned Friend expect to receive the Allen Report and when may we expect to debate it?
§ Mr. Woodburn
It was very interesting to hear when we are to disperse next week. I did not gather, from what the right hon. and learned Gentleman said, when we are to reassemble for the new Parliament. Can he tell us?
§ Sir B. Janner
Has the right hon. and learned Gentleman's attention been called to the serious state of heavy lorries which the Minister of Transport himself declared to be appalling? Out of 70 vehicles examined by an all too small a number of inspectors, only 23 were found to be fit? Will he give the House an opportunity next week to discuss this matter, which is of extreme importance to the life and limb of people who use the roads?
§ Mr. P. Williams
Will my right hon. and learned Friend confirm his detailed answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) about the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill, that, although it is nominally being taken formally, it will be an opportunity when any hon. Member can raise any subject he wants?
§ Mr. Lloyd
I want to make the position quite clear. The Second Reading will be taken formally. On Wednesday, the remaining stages will not be taken formally. There will be a debate until seven o'clock, on the initiative of the Opposition, about the method of selection 699 for secondary education, but after that hon. Members will be able to raise such subjects as they want.
§ Mr. G. Thomas
Is the Leader of the House aware that I could hardly believe my own ears? Is he really telling us that in the last week of this Parliament he is still not to allow us to debate the leasehold problems of Wales? Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman be prepared to allow us to discuss this issue, instead of the Vestures of Ministers Measure, on Thursday?
§ Mr. Driberg
Does the Leader of the House realise that, when he says that there is no Government time next week, he is asking for various important matters which have been mentioned to be raised on the Motion for the Summer Adjournment on Thursday, which will present certain procedural difficulties and might also have the effect of driving the Vestures of Ministers Measure on towards late in the evening, a situation which has caused difficulty in the past, as he knows?
Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman, therefore, reconsider this matter and see whether it is possible to come to an arrangement by which that Measure could be allowed, perhaps, two or three hours, by agreement with its sponsors, leaving three or four hours at least to spare on Thursday for some of the other important matters?
§ Sir C. Taylor
Reverting to my previous question about the Allen Report, 700 I was aware that the Leader of the House did not personally receive such Reports, but can my right hon. and learned Friend say when the Government will receive it?
§ Mr. Wigg
Is the Leader of the House aware that, for the Government to receive the Lang Report and for parts of it then to be leaked, without any opportunity for a debate to take place, is an absolute outrage? Does he realise that, when he tells the House that the Consolidated Fund Bill will be taken formally on Tuesday, he is being a trifle optimistic and that he cannot hope for any co-operation from any part of the House if he, as Leader of the House, behaves in a way which outrages every democratic principle?
Mr. H. Wilson
Will the Leader of the House agree to enter into discussions through the usual channels to see how a debate on the Lang Report and its premature disclosure can take place next week? Is he aware, for example, that, if the Summer Adjournment Motion went through with reasonable speed, we could have reasonable time for a debate on the subject on Thursday before coming to the Vestures of Ministers Measure? Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree to have talks through the usual channels, or will he force us to put down a Motion of censure on the Minister of Aviation?
§ Mr. W. Hamilton
As there is absolutely no interest whatever in the country in the vestures nonsense, will the Leader of the House undertake to scrub that item out of next week's business and let us discuss matters like the Lang Report and something just as serious, though not as large as some, namely, the Downing Street scandal, which has never yet seen the light of day, although I hope that it will next week?
701 Secondly, can the Leader of the House say whether the Prime Minister will be making another speech next week? It is six weeks since he made one in the House. Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman recall that, when I made this suggestion last week, he replied that my desire for punishment seemed to be obsessive, but does he, nevertheless, realise that we should like to hear the right hon. Gentleman speaking as Prime Minister on a subject of public importance for the last time in the House?
§ Mr. Abse
Is the Leader of the House aware that, in refusing to give time for the Motion to which I referred, he is acting almost without precedent? As the Motion criticises Mr. Speaker, apart from being of profound constitutional importance, and arises out of what Mr. Speaker himself described as a unique situation, is it not right that it should take precedence over nonsense such as Bills of the character of the Vestures of Ministers Measure?
§ Sir J. Arbuthnot
Will my right hon. and learned Friend bear in mind that, having put on the Church Assembly the duty of legislating on Church matters while reserving to itself the right to accept or reject resulting proposed legislation, Parliament has the duty expeditiously to deal with Measures which are brought before it from the Church Assembly?
§ Mr. Lubbock
Reverting to the subject of the Lang Report, will the Leader of the House say whether we could, as an absolute minimum, have a statement next week outlining to the House the result of inquiries which, I hope, he will make between now and next week into how 702 these revelations in the national newspapers arose?
Secondly, if it is quite inevitable that we rise for the Recess at the end of next week, will the Leader of the House consider whether we could come back to the House for one day during August specially to have a debate on this vital matter?
§ Mr. M. Foot
Reverting to the question put by my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse), will the Leader of the House explain more fully why he has taken this attitude? Does not he realise that a serious situation for the House of Commons is raised if Mr. Speaker informs the House, as he is compelled to do, that the only way for the matter to be dealt with, when there are criticisms of his decisions, is for a substantive Motion to be put down, and the Leader of the House refuses the right of the House to have time to discuss it? In such circumstances, he is, in effect, denying to back benchers the right to pursue what Mr. Speaker says is the only way in which such questions can be dealt with.
Although there may have been one or two precedents for such a Motion being left on the Order Paper undiscussed, I believe that, if the right hon. and learned Gentleman looks at the precedents, he will discover that overwhelmingly it has been the desire of the House, and, I should certainly think, the desire of Mr. Speaker also, that any such Motion should be debated. Will the Leader of the House, therefore, explain why he has taken the extraordinary decision not to allow time for a debate?
§ Mr. Rankin
In view of the completely evasive answers which the right hon. and learned Gentleman gave last Thursday to questions from this side of the House about the location of Scotland's new university—when he was evading the 703 issue, was not he aware that there was a Question for Written Answer on the Order Paper to which the Government replied on the following day?—is it not necessary that the right hon. and learned Gentleman reveal the rôle which the Government have pursued in locating this university? It is their responsibility. As it is up to the House to hear their case, and hon. Members ought to have an opportunity of deciding what the Government's attitude was, having regard to the national interest of Scotland, will the Leader of the House think about providing some time to discuss the matter?
§ Mr. Lloyd
The hon. Gentleman accused me of evading certain issues and, I think, almost of misleading the House. I did not know that the Question for Written Answer was on the Order Paper, and I suggest to the hon. Gentleman that it is helpful sometimes to be given a warning that a Question is to be asked so that one can investigate the position. I did not know of the Question on the Paper. Anyhow, the desire was for an answer to be given speedily, and an answer was, in fact, so given. It is not for me to pronounce on its merits.
§ Mr. Rankin
On a point of order. May I have your guidance on this matter, Mr. Speaker? At the beginning of Questions I submitted to you notice that I wished to take further the Answer which I received to my Oral Question No. 76 yesterday from the Minister of State for Education and Science. You said earlier that this was a matter which I could not raise. Could you tell me why an Oral Question which is reached is subject to notice of further action but an Oral Question which is not reached, and the Answer to which is not seen until the following day, is not subject to notice about further action?
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Gentleman has an opportunity of giving notice in the office. He would not have to give it orally on a subsequent date.
§ Mr. Rankin
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Does not your 704 Ruling indicate that there is discrimination between the treatment of Oral Questions which are reached and Oral Questions which are not reached?
§ Mr. Speaker
No. The hon. Member is entitled to give notice—it is a historical survival—in relation to an Oral Question which is reached. Otherwise, notice is given in the office, in the ordinary way.
§ Mr. Mendelson
In view of the reports which have appeared, particularly in Washington, concerning Her Majesty's Government's new proposals on experimenting with ideas on the multilateral nuclear force, and since next week might well be the last week during which this Parliament is in session, would the Leader of the House convey to the Prime Minister the request that he should make a statement some time next week on Her Majesty's Government's position in these negotiations and give a firm assurance to the House that the Government, which might well go out of office during the next few months, will not, in the last days of an old Parliament, commit the country to any affirmative policy on British participation in an international multilateral nuclear force?
§ Mr. M. Foot
Referring once again to the question raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse), will the Leader of the House take this into consideration? If the practice grows that when a Motion criticising the Chair is put on the Order Paper the Leader of the House refuses time for its discussion, it will alter the relationship between the authority of the Chair and the rest of the House of Commons. Therefore, it is a serious step which the Leader of the House is taking when he assumes the authority to deny to back benchers the right to express their opinion on the decisions of the Chair.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman says that, in his view, he has not taken an extraordinary step, but does not he realise that that is precisely the case that he would be called upon to present in a debate on the matter in the House? Therefore, in my judgment, he is arrogating to himself a right which he does 705 not possess. However, would he at least agree to refer this matter to the Select Committee on Procedure so that it might report to the House whether it is proper that when Mr. Speaker tells hon. Members that the only way in which they can deal with a matter is to put down a substantive Motion the House should be denied the right to discuss it by the individual decision of the Leader of the House?
§ Mr. Lloyd
I certainly do not think that my decision should be regarded as a precedent. I have to have regard to all the circumstances, and one of the circumstances, as the hon. Member well knows, is the fact that the House is to adjourn next Friday. It is a question of time. Having regard to all the circumstances, I came to my decision. I certainly do not think that it should be regarded as a precedent.
§ Mr. Foot
Is the Leader of the House really claiming that one of the reasons why he decided that a matter of this significance should not be discussed was that there was not time? This is a question affecting the relationship between Mr. Speaker and the rest of the House of Commons. There can be no matter concerning the House of Commons which should have pre-eminence over that. This is a question about the authority of the Chair. The right hon. and learned Gentleman has no right to deny the House of Commons discussion on that. It is all 706 laid down in Erskine May and in the Constitution. The right hon. and learned Gentleman is taking upon himself powers to which he has no right. I ask that he should at least consider the matter and refer it to some other people so that they might consider it. He certainly has no right to decide for the House of Commons whether we should be allowed to discuss this matter or not.
§ Mr. Abse
May we know next week from the Leader of the House the result of his consideration? He must realise that he has already given two distinct reasons why we are not to discuss this matter next week. The first—and he treated a matter of this importance facetiously and far too lightly, in my view—was that this was an exceptional occurence and was not of fundamental importance. Secondly, he suggested that it was a matter of time. If it is a matter of time—and we all understand the realities of the situation—may we have an assurance that he will make a statement next week dealing with the suggestion put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot)?