HC Deb 12 November 1964 vol 701 cc1192-7
Sir Alec Douglas-Home

May I ask the Leader of the House whether he will state the business of the House for next week?

The Lord President of the Council (Mr. Herbert Bowden)

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

MONDAY, 16TH NOVEMBER—Second Reading of the Nuclear Installations (Amendment) Bill, and of the Airports Authority Bill, and Committee stage of the Money Resolutions.

TUESDAY, 17TH NOVEMBER—Report stage of the Budget Resolutions.

Remaining stages of the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill.

WEDNESDAY, 18TH NOVEMBER—Second Reading of the Protection from Eviction Bill, and Committee stage of the Money Resolution.

Second Reading of the Gambia Independence Bill.

THURSDAY, 19TH NOVEMBER—Second Reading of the Machinery of Government Bill, and of the Remuneration of Teachers Bill, and Committee stage of the Money Resolutions.

FRIDAY, 20TH NOVEMBER—Remaining stages of the Travel Concessions Bill, and of the Gambia Independence Bill.

Consideration of the Motions relating to the Legal Aid and Advice Regulations, and the Industrial Organisation and Development Order.

MONDAY, 23RD NOVEMBER—The proposed business will be: Supply [1st Allotted Day]: Motion to move Mr. Speaker out of the Chair when a debate will arise on an Amendment relating to the Nuclear Deterrent, and the discussion of the Nassau Agreement in Washington.

Sir A. Douglas-Home

As to Thursday's business, there is, I think, a good deal of keen and critical interest in the Second Reading of the Machinery of Government Bill. I should like to ask that if it runs for much of the day, as I suspect that it will, we should not take the second item of business—the Remuneration of Teachers Bill—at too late an hour.

My only other point is that we will be asking for a foreign affairs debate sometime between when the Prime Minister returns from Washington and Christmas.

Mr. Bowden

It would not be the intention to start the Remuneration of Teachers Bill if the Machinery of Government Bill runs the whole period.

Mr. Peter Emery

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that there is considerable concern about the recent developments in travelling facilities from the suburbs and the outskirts of London to the capital city, particularly in relation to the go-slow? Will he take note of this and arrange for a debate in the House on this subject as soon as possible?

Mr. Bowden

I certainly take note of it, but I cannot promise any time in the immediate future.

Sir H. Legge-Bourke

Does the Leader of the House propose as soon as possible to give an opportunity to the House to discuss any reforms that might be required concerning Select Committees? In particular, I should like him to recall that just before the last Parliament ended, the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, an all-party organisation, submitted a recommendation that we should have a Select Committee dealing with science and technology. It would be helpful if we could have a debate on this matter at an early date.

Mr. Bowden

The Select Committees generally have not yet been set up, but they will be set up within the next few days. I will certainly look at the point regarding the other Select Committee.

Captain Orr

I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman two questions: first, when we may expect the Second Reading of the Finance Bill; and, secondly, whether he intends to adhere to the practice of his predecessor in allotting one Parliamentary day per Session to discuss the problems of Northern Ireland.

Mr. Bowden

The Second Reading of the Finance Bill will certainly not be next week; I should hope that it would be in the week following.

On the question of Northern Ireland, let us see how we get on a little later in the Session.

Mr. Shepherd

When does the Leader of the House intend to introduce legislation dealing with monopolies, restrictive practices and mergers?

Mr. Bowden

Certainly not next week.

Mr. Robert Cooke

When will the right hon. Gentleman find time to discuss the Motion on the Order Paper criticising the conduct of the Postmaster-General? He will recall that on Tuesday last the Postmaster-General made a long and misleading statement and, by means of a false date, accused his predecessor of concealing the truth. When are we to get at the truth in this matter?

[That this House deplores the statement of the Postmaster-General on Tuesday 10th November on the finances of the postal services in that he misled the House, by suggesting that his predecessor, Right Honourable Reginald Bevins, in view of the imminent General Election, had said "as late at 25th July" that he had no intention of raising postal charges; whereas Mr. Bevins made no such reply in July of this year but made such a statement in reply to a Question from the honourable Member for West Bristol on 25th July 1963, which Question was related only to his present intentions in that year.]

Mr. Bowden

I have seen the Motion on the Order Paper in the name of the hon. Member and others. In the first place, one should take into consideration what the former Postmaster-General said as recently as 28th July this year: I have no plans for increasing postal charges."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 28th July, 1964; Vol. 699, c. 239.] In the circumstances, and in view of what the former Postmaster-General said in this morning's issue of The Times, I should have thought—

Mr. Kershaw

On a point of order. What possible connection can this have with the business for next week, Mr. Speaker?

Mr. Speaker

As I understand it, the Leader of the House is advancing reasons—and he had not got quite to his conclusion—presumably for not giving time.

Mr. Bowden

I was doing precisely that and endeavouring to point out that, for those two reasons, I hope that hon. Members opposite will now withdraw the Motion from the Order Paper, when there would be no need to debate it.

Mr. Zilliacus

May I ask whether time can be found for a two-day debate on international affairs before the departure of the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and the Defence Minister and the ensuing N.A.T.O. Council meeting in Paris?

Mr. Bowden

No, Sir. I do not think that there is any possibility of a two-day debate.

Mr. Sandys

Do the Government propose to make an early statement on the situation in regard to Southern Rhodesia?

Mr. Bowden

I should think so, if a development there requires it, but I cannot give a firm undertaking at the moment.

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

Will the Leader of the House reconsider his vague and unsatisfactory reference to giving time to discuss the affairs of Northern Ireland? Will he bear in mind that in recent Parliaments it has been the invariable practice to provide either a full day or at least two half days?

Mr. Bowden

As far as my memory serves me, the debate on Northern Ireland has usually taken place late in June or early in July. Let us look at the position when we reach that part of the year.

Mr. S. Silverman

While my right hon. Friend was looking at Private Members' early-day Motions on the Order Paper, was his attention directed to a Motion by some of my right hon. and hon. Friends and myself directed to the conduct of the right hon. Member for Bexley (Mr. Heath) the other night when, in our opinion at least, he made an entirely unjustified and unwarranted attack on distinguished officials who could not answer for themselves? Does my right hon. Friend think it possible to give a little Parliamentary time so that this question can be further explored?

[That this House places on record its great regret that the right hon. Member for Bexley should have abused the privilege of addressing the House from the Opposition Front Bench by making a strong attack on three distinguished officials, well knowing that they could have no opportunity to reply or defend themselves and in flagrant violation of a long and honourable tradition of Parliamentary debate.]

Mr. Bowden

I have seen the Motion, and I have a great deal of sympathy with it, but I can hold out no hope of a debate next week.

Sir H. Butcher

In view of the reply of his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to me on Tuesday this week, can the Lord President of the Council say whether a statement on the remuneration of Members and Ministers will be made during the coming week?

Mr. Shinwell

Is the hon. Member hard up?

Mr. Bowden

In reply to the hon. Member for Holland with Boston (Sir H. Butcher), I should think that that is a possibility.

Mr. Webster

During the continued absence from the House of any Ministers for Technology, either a Minister or a Parliamentary Secretary, who will answer for this Department in the House at Question Time on Tuesday?

Mr. Bowden

That question was answered by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on Tuesday of this week.

Mr. Paget

Is the Budget business on Tuesday formal? In other words, would the full day be available for the remaining stages of the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill? Or is it debatable?

Mr. Bowden

The Report stage of the Budget Resolutions is formal. These Resolutions are not debatable, but there is an opportunity to divide on them.

Sir C. Osborne

In view of the overriding need for greater exports, will the right hon. Gentleman try to find time to allow the President of the Board of Trade to make a statement on what he has discovered both in Moscow and in Peking which would enable us to increase East-West trade and time to allow us to discuss the matter?

Mr. Bowden

I cannot hold out any immediate hope of that.

Sir Ian Orr-Ewing

May I return to the Question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Robert Cooke)? As reported yesterday in column 839 of Hansard, concerning the reference to Mr. Bevin's speech, the date is given as 25th July. The right hon. Gentleman said 28th July. If the right hon. Gentleman the Postmaster-General has made a mistake, may I remind the Leader of the House that the Prime Minister has always prided himself on getting the exact dates?

When these things happen, and a mistake is made, the House is always very generous, and it will accept the Postmaster-General's apology just as it accepted the slip by the hon. Member for Nottingham, South (Mr. Whitlock). We always accept with great grace. Is it not beholden on the Postmaster-General to make an apology to the House?

Mr. Bowden

I hope that I have not misled the House. In fact, the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Postmaster-General when he spoke of 25th July, 1963, was accurate. The point which I was making was that a similar statement was made on 28th July, 1964.