HC Deb 19 November 1964 vol 702 cc632-9
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, 23RD NOVEMBER—Supply [1st Alloted Day]: Committee, which, if the House agrees, will be taken formally.

Thereafter, on the Motion for the Adjournment of the House, a debate will arise relating to the Nuclear Deterrent. and the discussion of the Nassau Agreement.

TUESDAY, 24TH NOVEMBER—Finance Bill: Second Reading.

WEDNESDAY, 25TH NOVEMBER—Second Reading of the National Insurance, &c., Bill, and Committee stage of the Money Resolution.

THURSDAY, 26TH NOVEMBER—Remaining stages of the Protection from Eviction Bill.

FRIDAY, 27TH NOVEMBER—Private Members' Motions.

MONDAY, 30TH NOVEMBER—The proposed business will be: Finance Bill: Committee stage [1st Day].

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Dame Irene Ward.

Sir A. Douglas-Home


Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The Leader of the Opposition was a little late in rising. Sir Alec Douglas-Home.

Sir A. Douglas-Home

I did not know whether the Leader of the House had finished.

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, we understand the urgency for the remaining stages of the Protection from Eviction Bill. Nevertheless, the Bill shows all the signs of having been hastily drafted and not very closely considered. Many Amendments will certainly arise, some of which I hope the Government will accept and some which I hope they will wish to consider. Therefore, I think it inevitable that there should be a Report stage on another day.

Mr. Bowden

Whilst not accepting what the right hon. Gentleman has said about the drafting of the Bill, I think that we had better see how we get on that day.

Dame Irene Ward

Has the Leader of the House noticed a Motion standing on the Order Paper in my name on the implementation of an election pledge made to the Officers' Pensions Society?

[That this House notes the proposals contained in a letter, dated 14th September, 1964, from the hon. Member for Rossendale, the then Chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, to the Chairman of the Officers' Pensions Society, that pensions would be linked to earnings, so that pensioners would not only be compensated for rising prices but also receive their full and fair share in rising national prosperity, and that his party were favourably disposed towards the principle of parity and would open negotiations with interested bodies to see how reforms along those lines could be introduced; and this House is accordingly of the opinion that early information should be given as to the implementation of those proposals.]

Shall we have a day to debate this pledge? If not, will there be a statement on when the pledge will be implemented by action?

Mr. Bowden

A review is taking place of officers' pensions. When it is completed we might look at the position again and see whether a debate can take place at that point or whether a report can be made on the review.

Mr. William Clark

We are to have the first day of the Committee stage of the Finance Bill on Monday week, but will the right hon. Gentleman say how many days there will be? Is he aware that many of my hon. Friends would like at least three Committee days?

Mr. Bowden

It is difficult to forecast, at this point, the number of days required. Bills of a similar size—and I am not making the point that they should necessarily take the same number of days—have taken only two days. If it should prove to be necessary to go beyond two days we would consider it. We would not wish to go unduly late on the first night.

Mr. Stratton Mills

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer will take an early opportunity, perhaps on the Finance Bill, to make a statement, as detailed as possible, on the far-reaching effects of a corporation tax? Will the Leader of the House give an assurance that this information will be given as soon as possible and that hon. Members will not have to wait until we have the next Finance Bill in five months' time?

Mr. Bowden

This does not arise on business for next week, but neither does the capital gains tax or the corporation tax arise out of the current Finance Bill. If my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has any further statement to make, he will certainly make it.

Sir C. Osborne

Will the right hon. Gentleman find time to allow the President of the Board of Trade to make a statement on his visit to Moscow and Peking so that we can discuss the question of exports to two great countries and especially the question of the impact on this country of Chinese imports which the Chinese would have to make to buy what we wish to sell to them?

Mr. Bowden

I understand that my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade has already made a statement on his visit to China, but I will certainly have a word with him and see whether he wishes to make a further statement.

Mr. Peter Walker

As the right hon. Gentleman will have heard that it is unlikely that the Secretary of State for Wales will be answering Questions which will not be reached until 24th December, will the right hon. Gentleman consider the Motion on the Order Paper in my name and the names of some of my hon. Friends concerning the time-lag in Questions?

[That this House urges that additional time should be provided for the answering of Oral Questions, in view of the increase in the number of Ministers answerable to this House.]

Is he aware that only six out of 28 Ministers were reached last week for Oral Answers and that this is really an urgent problem?

Mr. Bowden

We propose to set up a Select Committee on Procedure very quickly. This is a point which that Committee might look at, though I appreciate that it has been looked at on a number of occasions before. At this stage, I should not like to alter the new system of one Department once a week at Question Time, which seems to be working fairly well. We could always look at the matter again after Christmas, but on the larger question we should like the Committee on Procedure to look at the subject.

Mrs. Thatcher

On Wednesday's business, on the National Insurance Bill, the Leader of the House will be aware that the first paragraph of the Financial Memorandum refers to the Government Actuary's Report, Cmnd. 2517, and to another White Paper, Cmnd. 2518. Is he aware that the Government Actuary's Report, which is the one which specifies whether or not the proposals are sound, is not yet available in the Vote Office, and neither is Cmnd. 2518? Will the right hon. Gentleman see that they are available by the time the House rises tonight?

Mr. Bowden

I shall do my best, but I cannot give an absolute guarantee that they will be available.

Mr. Dudley Smith

When can we expect a Bill or, at least, a Ministerial statement of action on the banning of night jet flights from London Airport following the speech which the Prime Minister made during the election and his further remarks earlier today?

Mr. Bowden

This is a subject which might well be suited to a Private Member's Motion, if the hon. Gentleman is successful in the Ballot.

Mr. Peter Emery

Has the Leader of the House taken into account the Motion on the Order Paper standing in my name and the names of over 100 hon. and right hon. Members dealing with travel facilities and conditions in and around London? Does he realise that these have considerably deteriorated in October and November, and even since the Motion first appeared on the Order Paper, and will he arrange for a debate on the subject before commuters give up in disgust or the traffic grinds to a halt?

[That this House urges Her Majesty's Government to take immediate action to improve the conditions for the public journeying to London each day, in view of the rapid deterioration and the increasing costs of all facilities for commuters and passengers travelling from the outskirts or subrubs of London to the capital city.]

Mr. Bowden

I appreciate the difficulties. No one tries to do other than accept that it is a problem which calls for solution, if a solution is possible. My right hon. Friend the First Secretary of State has made a move in that direction by restricting office building in London. It is, perhaps, a subject which the House ought to debate, but, I should have thought, on a Supply Day. If the hon. Gentleman will talk to his own Front Bench, we shall try to arrange a Supply Day before Christmas.

Mr. Gibson-Watt

When can the Leader of the House give time for a debate on Welsh Affairs, as the Prime Minister has made a far-reaching statement on the future of Wales this afternoon?

Mr. Bowden

Normally, there is a debate on Welsh Affairs later in the Session. If it is the general wish of the House and the Opposition Front Bench to bring it forward, I shall certainly consider it.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Is my right hon. Friend aware that congestion at Question Time could be relieved if Welsh Questions could be answered in the Welsh Grand Committee and Scottish Questions be answered in the Scottish Grand Committee? This would not only be a measure of rational devolution, but would help to get Members' Questions answered.

Mr. Frederic Harris

Has the Leader of the House seen the Prayer which has been put down by the three hon. Members for Croydon to annul Statutory Instrument No. 1771? When might this he debated?

Mr. Bowden

I have seen that Prayer. We hope to take it on Wednesday next.

Mr. Costain

Will the Leader of the House take an early opportunity of voting in the Opposition Lobby so that he may observe that the number of Opposition Members with names coming into the A-K part of the alphabet is very great and that the alphabetical relationship needs revision?

Mr. Bowden

I hope that I shall not be voting in the Opposition Lobby next week.

Mr. Burden

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that traffic conditions on the Southern Region are very important, as several of his hon. Friends live in areas covered by those railways and might have difficulty in saving the Government at any time?

Mr. Bowden

I appreciate that this is a great problem, which can be very difficult to solve. Perhaps a debate ought to take place, but I can give no guarantee of Government time in the near future.

Mr. Marten

Are we likely to have a debate on negotiations to do with the Concord next week?

Mr. Bowden

Not so far as I am aware at present.

Mr. Sydney Silverman

As a Member for a constituency which is neither Welsh nor Scottish, may I ask my right hon. Friend to consider the suggestion about Scottish and Welsh Questions made by my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes)?

Mr. Bowden

Quite seriously, I think that the Select Committee on Procedure might look at a change in our longstanding arrangements as regards questions and discussions in Committees. There is, perhaps, a possibility of something arising out of its deliberations which might lead to a change in Committee work which would mean, perhaps, that not only some questions but some Bills, rather on the lines of the Scottish Grand Committee, could be considered in special Committees.

Mr. Hector Hughes

Does my right hon. Friend realise that the Order Paper discloses the unsatisfactory and astonishing fact that very little time is given to Scottish Questions? Will he revise the Order Paper either in the way suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes), or in some other way, so as to give Scottish Members more opportunity for putting relevant Questions?

Mr. Bowden

It would be a mistake to depart from what is, as I said before, the new experiment of having one Department once a week; but we can, of course, look at it again after the Christmas Recess.

Mr. Abse

Will my right hon. Friend note, in considering the suggestion put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Sydney Silverman) and others, that, although everyone from Wales has welcomed the Prime Minister's statement on Wales, there would be deep concern if hon. Members from Wales were cut off from asking Questions of Ministers, so causing Welsh political life to be away from the main stream of British political life?

Mr. Bowden

I note what my hon. Friend says.