HC Deb 29 July 1964 vol 699 cc1430-2
The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd)

With permission, I should like to make a short business statement.

In discussions through the usual channels, on today's business, the Opposition have indicated that they do not now propose to discuss the method of selection for secondary education. Thus, after the Motion for the Summer Adjournment has been dealt with, the whole of the day will be available for private Members.

Mr. H. Wilson

Is the Leader of the House aware that, although we should very much like to have had a brief half-day debate on this subject, once it became clear that there was the rearrangement of Parliamentary business for tomorrow for which we had asked, there would inevitably be a debate on the Motion for the Summer Adjournment and there might be a danger, if we took the half day on this other question, of severely curtailing the time which, I think, everyone is anxious that hon. Members should have to raise individual issues.

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that, since, in past years, we have always, out of what is regarded as our time, arranged for half a day on this particular occasion to be available for any issue to be raised on the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill, we did not want to cut that half day down, and it was for this reason that we took the action we did, not through any lack of interest in the other subject? However, since we were informed, as a result of painstaking research, that hon. Members on both sides have, between them, already given some kind of formal notice of wishing to raise no fewer than 15 separate subjects, we felt that we ought not to stand in their way by attempting to preempt the time of the House for the particular debate which we had in mind.

Mr. Lloyd

We all understand what the right hon. Gentleman has said, and I can confirm his information that there has been unofficial notice of 15 matters to be raised.

Dame Irene Ward

Since my right hon. and learned Friend has made a statement about business, and we were given an undertaking that a statement would be made about the possibility of a nuclear-powered ship, will he inform the House—I understand that this is so—that a statement will be made about it tomorrow, having regard to the interest felt by so many hon. Members on this subject?

Further, is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that I think it a little odd that he did not, in his usual courteous way, think of informing the House that a statement would not be made today, but would be made tomorrow?

Mr. Lloyd

I am aware of my hon. Friend's interest in this matter. As I understand, the House will be informed. It is a matter to be dealt with tomorrow.

Mr. Lubbock

The alteration of business has been agreed at very short notice. Will the Leader of the House say what opportunities those of us who would have wished to speak in the debate on secondary education will now have of doing so?

Mr. Lloyd

Hon. Members must exercise their ingenuity.

Mr. Driberg

Will the Leader of the House make sure that there are at least 15 appropriate and assorted Ministers here all the time to answer the points which may be raised on the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill, one of the difficulties being that different points are raised at different times? Will there be an omnibus reply at the end, or will various Ministers answer for their responsibilities?

Mr. Lloyd

Where notice has been given that any matter is to be raised, the appropriate Minister will be here to answer.

Mr. Robert Cooke

No doubt, the House will welcome the facilitating of today's business, but will my right hon. and learned Friend bear in mind that the removal from today's business of the subject of selection for secondary education will be a grave disappointment to all those many thousands of people in Bristol who had hoped to have their views put on the grave threat made by the Labour Party to all the grammar schools in that city?

Commander Courtney

May I support my hon. Friend the Member for Tyne-mouth (Dame Irene Ward) on the question of the nuclear-powered ship? I think it less than courteous, when the House and many people in the country are anxiously awaiting a decision, for my right hon. and learned Friend really not to know whether a statement is to be made today or tomorrow.

Mr. Lloyd

I cannot accept these accusations of lack of courtesy. I said that, as I understood the House would be informed of the decision tomorrow.

Mr. G. Thomas

As I propose to make a speech on leasehold, if I catch your eye later, Mr. Speaker, will the Leader of the House inform the Minister of Housing and Local Government that I would like an answer?

Mr. Lloyd

If the hon. Gentleman gives notice, he will get an appropriate reply, but not, of course, the answer which I have often given him in Welsh.

Mr. H. Wilson

The Leader of the House may recall that, on a previous occasion when the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill was before the House, the House was most brusquely closured at a very early hour—six o'clock in the morning, I think. [HON. MEMBERS: "Will the right hon. Gentleman be here?"] I cannot guarantee it.

Recognising the great desire which he and I and all hon. Members have, whether we are here or not, that there should be proper time for individual Members to deal with the matters which they wish to raise, will the Leader of the House give an assurance that, if there are important subjects left for debate, it is not intended too early or too brusquely to move the Closure on the Bill, provided, of course, that the debate does not run on so long as to stop tomorrow's business?

Mr. Speaker

I find myself almost emotionally involved, but I am afraid that the question is, on previous Rulings, out of order. Perhaps we had better facilitate business.