HC Deb 19 March 1964 vol 691 cc1591-8
Mr. G. Brown

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, 23RD, TUESDAY, 24TH, and WEDNESDAY, 25TH, MARCH—Committee stage of the Resale Prices Bill.

THURSDAY, 26TH MARCH—It is proposed that the House should meet at

Eleven a.m., that Questions be taken until Twelve noon, and that the House adjourn at Five o'clock, until Tuesday, 7th April.

Mr. G. Brown

There is not a lot of variety in next week's business—[Hon. Members: "Wait and see."] When the Leader of the House refers to the Committee stage of the Resale Prices Bill, may the House take it that he means that we shall make such progress as may be with the Committee stage? Further, so that his hon. Friends are not put under too much stress, is it his intention that we should not sit too late on any of the three days?

Mr. Lloyd

It will depend on the progress we make. I hope very much that it will not be necessary to ask the House to sit at a late hour, but it does depend on how we get on.

Sir G. Nicholson

I know that my right hon. and learned Friend has seen the Motion on Statutory Instruments in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) and other hon. Members. Is he aware that, although the Statutory Instrument in question may not be of great significance, a question of principle is involved, in that the House appointed a Select Committee to report on certain subjects, and that the Select Committee reported that two Ministers had made unexpected use of their powers.

It is not right and proper that the House should have an early opportunity to debate a Report of that nature? In spite of the difficulties, will my right hon. and learned Friend find time for such a debate very soon?

[That this House approves the resolution of the Select Committee on Statutory Instruments regarding the Weights and Measures (Equivalents for dealings with drugs) Regulations 1964, contained in their Second Report, regrets that the Minister of Health and the Secretary of State for Scotland have together made unexpected use of the powers conferred on them by statute, and calls on them to withdraw the present Regulations and to substitute others.]

Mr. Lloyd

As I told my hon. Friend last week, I have sympathy with his point of view. It is very important that proper regard should be paid to the work of this Select Committee on Statutory Instruments. In this particular instance, as he knows, there was an unfortunate circumstance in that the time ran out without the matter having been mentioned to me. I certainly promise to do my very best to see that it does not happen again; and that there will be an opportunity to debate a matter of this sort.

Meanwhile, I will think over the possibility of discussing the Motion. Obviously, we cannot undertake to do so this next week.

Mr. Jay

In view of the sharp disagreement on the Resale Prices Bill between the President of the Board of Trade and the Leader of the House, might it not be conducive to greater harmony within the Government if the Committee stage were postponed until after Easter?

Mr. Lloyd

I always admire the right hon. Gentleman's fertile imagination; in this case, he is drawing on it to the full.

Mr. Shinwell

When does the Leader of the House propose to introduce the Motion for the Easter Adjournment—or is he proposing to take that this afternoon after the present business has been disposed of? Whether he does so today or next week, is he aware that I propose to move an Amendment in order to facilitate Government business?

Mr. Lloyd

The Motion is on the Order Paper today.

Mr. J. Harvey

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Power, on Second Reading of the Continental Shelf Bill, described the provisions of the Bill as highly desirable and urgent? In view of the fact that the Committee stage of the Bill has been completed for some little time, may I ask when we can expect the Third Reading?

Mr. Lloyd

I cannot tell my hon. Friend that this afternoon, but I will have regard to what he has said, with which I agree.

Mr. Hamilton

Is the Leader of the House aware that we have now reached the Scottish section of the Hire-Purchase Bill, but that, unfortunately, the Solicitor-General for Scotland is no longer avail- able to give us guidance? Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman therefore try to persuade the Prime Minister to attend the Committee on the Bill to demonstrate that his legal knowledge is more profound than his economic?

Dr. King

As the Report on the South-East, published today, raises certain issues of such profound importance not only for the South-East but for the whole of the country, will the Leader of the House give us an undertaking that early after Easter the House will have an opportunity of having a debate on it?

Mr. Lloyd

I cannot give any definite promise, because of certain other business soon after Easter which takes a good deal of the time of the House, but I will certainly take what the hon. Member has said into account.

Sir C. Osborne

On future business, will my right hon. and learned Friend see whether he can find time to consider the increase in crimes of violence? In view of yesterday's incident, in which a Midland Bank manager was shot when he was doing his ordinary duties, and of the almost daily occurrences in which men are beaten up when they are carrying money in the course of doing their normal job, does not my right hon. and learned Friend agree that something should be done to protect people in these circumstances? Will he promise that we shall be able to have time to debate this subject at an early date?

Mr. Lloyd

I was certainly aware of the Motion which stands in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne).

[That this House is of opinion that flogging should be reintroduced as a punishment for crimes of violence against the person, the number of cases of which in England and Wales known to the police and cleared up has increased from 2,721 in 1938, to 4,062 in 1946, to 7,884 in 1955, and to 17,948 in 1962, and that it should be continued for a period of five years to determine whether the fear of this punishment would act as a deterrent and give greater protection especially to bank officials, Post Office workers, wages clerks, and other persons lawfully in charge of money as well as defenceless women, children and old people.]

I think that the Government's views on this matter have been made plain but, nevertheless, I will consider what my hon. Friend has said.

Mr. Harold Davies

May I ask the Leader of the House whether he was in the House yesterday when some of us endeavoured to get a statement from his right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture and, under the rules of the House, Mr. Speaker informed us—and most of us already knew—that there was no cue within the rules of order which would enable that to happen?

The reference was to a question by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. My right hon. Friend asked whether the Leader of the House would make an announcement about the "leak" of the terms of the Annual Agricultural Review. The Minister of Agriculture replied: … I assure the House that I shall take all steps necessary to ensure that nothing comes out from within my own Department."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th March, 1964; Vol. 691, c 1932.] The point is that it came out.

Would the Leader of the House, therefore, ask his right hon. Friend whether, out of courtesy to the House, he will make an investigation before the Recess into this massive "leak" and explain it to the House?

Mr. Lloyd

That is not a matter for me on the question of business for next week, but my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture said that by the very nature of these negotiations many people have to know about them who are not in his own Ministry and that he was satisfied, as far as his own Ministry was concerned, that the "leak," or the information, or whatever it was, had not come from that source.

Mr. Harold Davies

May I press this point—

Mr. Speaker

Not on business.

Mr. C. Johnson

Is the Leader of the House aware that six months ago a promise was made on behalf of the Government to introduce a scheme in the present Parliament for the compensation of victims of crimes of violence? Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman explain the reason for the delay in the publication of the oft-promised White Paper by the Home Secretary, and will he now repeat this promise and the undertaking to introduce such a scheme before the General Election?

Mr. Lloyd

I shall have to look into the question of promised legislation. I hope that the White Paper will be produced very soon.

Mr. Oram

In view of the great number and complexity of the Amendments to the Resale Prices Bill next week, will the Leader of the House have in mind the arrangement which we have in connection with the Finance Bill whereby there is posted in the "No" Lobby a list showing the selection and grouping of Amendments? Will such a facility be possible in connection with this Bill?

Mr. Lloyd

That is a matter for the Chairman of Ways and Means. I am pretty sure that it will happen, but I will bear in mind what the hon. Member has said.

Mr. P. Browne

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that for many years some of us have been pressing for a debate in Government time on rural transport? Is he aware that last week the Minister of Transport announced an interim decision on what he would do, in answer to a Written Question, which is, in any case, a practice that one deprecates? However, in view of the fact that the Minister of Transport has done this, will my right hon. and learned Friend find time for a debate on the subject?

Mr. Lloyd

All I can say is, "No, not next week".

Mr. Boyden

Is the Leader of the House aware that another new set of buildings at Aldershot seem in danger of collapsing? Would it not be more constructive if on Monday he postpones the business on the Resale Prices Bill in order to discuss the industrialised building methods of the Ministry of Public Building and Works, which do not seem to be going as smoothly as the Minister seems to be suggesting?

Mr. Lloyd

No, Sir.

Mr. Manuel

Is the Leader of the House aware that there is on the Order Paper a Motion on Prestwick Airport and its future and on the Scandinavian air routes through Prestwick? Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman look at this and promise the House that if there is to be an agreement on the reduction of S.A.S. flights through Prestwick the House will have an opportunity to debate it before it becomes a fact accepted by the Government?

[That this House, realising the importance of Prestwick Airport and the part it could play in the development of the Scottish economy and the tourist industry, urges the Minister of Aviation to reconsider his decision to reduce the number of flights of Scandinavian Air Services to Prestwick and to consider plans which will safeguard the interests of Prestwick as an international airport.]

Mr. Lloyd

I heard the Questions put earlier to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry and Trade and the Answers given and I will look into the point.

Mr. Pavitt

It is unlikely that we shall find time in the short week ahead of us to discuss the Motion on the Order Paper on shorter speeches.

[That this House, in order to improve the quality of debate, would welcome the convention whereby all back benchers, including Privy Councillors, should limit their speeches to 15 minutes.]

May I therefore ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he will pay attention to an Amendment to that Motion, standing in my name, which proposes a simple device which is inexpensive and which will enable loquacious Members to be brief and taciturn Members to have more elbow room?

[Line 3, at end add "and, in order that hon. Members may check easily the duration of their own speeches, urges that a stop-clock should be placed on the gallery level above the gangways to be re-set at the commencement of each speech".]

Mr. Lloyd

There is a Motion on the Order Paper in my name suggesting that this matter should be referred to the Select Committee on Procedure and no doubt the hon. Member's suggestion will be considered by that Committee.

[That the matters of the form of the Defence Estimates; of the disclosure of matters contained in the Reports of Select Committees; of the allocation of time to proceedings on public bills; of opportunities for brief speeches; and of the method of signifying objection during the time for unopposed business, being matters relating to the procedure in the public business of the House, be referred to the Select Committee on Procedure.]

Mr. Lipton

In view of the right hon. and learned Gentlemen's statement that the Committee stage of the Resale Prices Bill will be concluded on Wednesday night, may I ask what sort of date he has in mind for the completion of the Report stage?

Mr. Lloyd

Not yet, Sir.

Mr. Ross

That is a long way off.