HC Deb 26 November 1964 vol 702 cc1471-6
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, 30TH NOVEMBER, and TUESDAY, 1ST DECEMBER—Finance Bill: Progress with the Committee stage.

Thereafter, on Tuesday, the Committee stage of the Ways and Means Resolution on the Severn Bridge.

WEDNESDAY, 2ND DECEMBER—Completion of the Committee stage of the Finance Bill.

Motion on the Gas (Borrowing Powers) Order.

THURSDAY, 3RD DECEMBER—Remaining stages of the National Insurance &c., Bill.

FRIDAY, 4TH DECEMBER — Private Members' Motions.

MONDAY, 7TH DECEMBER—The proposed business will be: Private Members' Motions until seven o'clock.

Afterwards, the remaining stages of the Finance Bill.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

I note that more than 30 debates can arise on the Amendment selected and on the Clauses of the Protection from Eviction Bill, whose Committee stage we are taking today. It would appear impossible to complete the Committee stage in one sitting, however late we may stay tonight.

I am glad that the Government have accepted the need for three days in Committee on the Finance Bill. As the Leader of the House knows, we shall not delay the Bill unnecessarily, but it has a mass of detail which will have to be discussed. On that account, I hope that we shall not be expected to take the Gas (Borrowing Powers) Order on Wednesday if we cannot reach it by a reasonable hour.

Lastly, I note that on Monday, 7th December, it is proposed to take the remaining stages of the Finance Bill. Does the right hon. Gentleman intend to put down the necessary Motion so that the Third Reading may be taken immediately after the Report stage?

Mr. Bowden

Today's Amendments to the Protection from Eviction Bill will involve about 27 debates, if they are all moved. It will be appreciated that this is an extremely urgent Bill. We intend to make as good progress as possible. It may not work out quite as badly as the right hon. Gentleman thinks.

Last week, I announced that there would be two days in Committee on the Finance Bill, but, at the request of the Opposition, I have now given three. I hope and believe that that will be sufficient and that we can make progress with the Gas (Borrowing Powers) Order.

On the following Monday it is our intention to put down a Motion to take the Report stage and Third Reading of the Finance Bill on the same day.

Mr. Stratton Mills

Has the Leader of the House noted that a very important Government statement on the capital gains tax appears to have been made yesterday by means of an unofficial leak to financial journalists? Is he aware that about 20 Questions on the corporation tax and the capital gains tax were put to the Chancellor of the Exchequer last week, Questions which he dodged? Is he aware that a statement of this kind should be made by the Chancellor in the House? Will he seek to make amends by having such a statement made next week?

Mr. Bowden

My right hon. Friend will be making a statement on that subject next week.

Mr. William Hamilton

Can my right hon. Friend say what is the intended publication of the Supplementary Estimates and when they will be debated? Is he aware that if they are debated too early, Sub-Committee G of the Estimates Committee, whose responsibility is to get out a report on the Supplementary Estimates before they are debated, will not be able to get out a report before the debate? Will he take that into consideration when arranging for the debate on these Estimates?

Mr. Bowden

It is not the intention to arrange for a debate on the Civil Supplementary Estimates until the report from the Estimates Sub-Committee is available.

Mr. Maudling

Reverting to the question of the corporation tax, can the Leader of the House explain how it can be that Questions put to Treasury Ministers on Tuesday, apparently not capable of answer in the House, were answered, apparently unofficially, to the Press yesterday? Is this right? Are people to take these statements in the Press as unofficial and, therefore, unreliable, or are they to take them as official, in which case they should have been made to the House?

Mr. Bowden

I have already said that my right hon. Friend will be making a statement. I cannot possibly be responsible for what appears in the Press.

Mr. Bessell

Has the right hon. Gentleman seen the Motion in the name of several hon. Members on both sides of the House relating to drunken drivers? Will it be possible for this subject to be debated before the Christmas Recess, so that it can have a greater effect and be of greater use?

[That this House, noting with satisfaction the national advertising campaign being launched by the Government against motorised drunkenness, and commending both the scale and nature of the methods chosen to convince the public of the seriousness of this menace, urges Her Majesty's Government to act further by introducing legislation making it an offence to drive if more than a specified concentration of alcohol is present in the body.]

Mr. Bowden

I have seen the Motion. There have been changes in the law about drunken driving within the last 12 months and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport last week indicated new ideas for a new campaign to deal with the problem. In the circumstances, we had better see how that campaign works out and talk about it later.

Mr. F. M. Bennett

Has the right hon. Gentleman's attention been drawn to a Motion expressing the thanks of the House on a non-party basis to the efficient Belgian forces in saving refugees in the Congo, including a number of British subjects? If the right hon. Gentleman is able to grant time for a short debate in order to endorse those sentiments, could he arrange for one of the Government spokesmen to be the hon. Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg)?

[That this House warmly commends the humanitarian action of the Belgian forces with the active co-operation of the Congo Government and that of Great Britain and the United States of America in saving innocent refugees from racialist massacre and terrorism in Stanleyville, and hopes this will lead to a new initiative in the establishment of a peaceful, non-racialist united Congo.]

Mr. Bowden

I am sure that the whole House will endorse the action taken in Stanleyville yesterday in releasing hostages, but I doubt whether there is any value in debating it.

Mr. Shepherd

Will the Leader of the House explain to us why we are still waiting for the Bill on restrictive practices and monopolies? Will he say why this Measure, so important to our economy, has been relegated by him to the bottom of the list?

Mr. Bowden

We were waiting a long time for the Bill during the last Parliament. The Government have been in office exactly six weeks. However, I think that I can forecast that we shall have a short Bill before the major Bill and the short one fairly soon.

Mr. Sandys

The Leader of the House said that the Chancellor of the Exchequer could not take responsibility for reports in newspapers about the Government's future intentions with regard to taxation. Did he mean to imply that the Chancellor had not given guidance to the newspapers on this subject?

Mr. Bowden

The right hon. Gentleman may remember that what I said was that I cannot take responsibility for what appears in the newspapers.

Mr. Peter Walker

Is the Leader of the House aware that the statement of the Minister of Housing and Local Government this week on the subject of mortgages will result in a great deal of uncertainty on the part of those people contemplating entering into house purchases in the near future? Can his right hon. Friend tell the House next week whether any future legislation will apply to all house purchases and mortgages?

Mr. Bowden

The Government have worked with great speed, but they cannot possibly carry out their whole election manifesto in six weeks. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government told the House yesterday, or the day before—I forget which—that he is already discussing the question of subsidy with local authorities and is discussing with building societies the question of mortgage interest rates.

Mr. Peyton

May I ask whether the Government have available a Measure relating to the gas industry and, if so, whether it is the intention to find time for it during the current Session?

Mr. Bowden

I agree that there is such a Measure, but it will not be next week.

Mr. William Clark

Will the Leader of the House be a little more specific than his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer and say when the Chancellor is to make a statement on the corporation and capital gains taxes? Already, there has been sufficient uncertainty and this will be exacerbated if we have the unofficial reports which appeared in the newspapers yesterday. Can the House be told something today?

Mr. Bowden

I will discuss the question of the actual date with my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

May I ask the Leader of the House—it may not be such a controversial topic as one could wish—whether it is the intention to set up a Select Committee on Procedure in addition to the normal sessional Committee, and if so, when?

Mr. Bowden

It is our intention to set up such a Committee as quickly as possible, probably a combination of both, first looking at specific subjects and then a rather more general review of the whole question of procedure.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

In view of recent economic developments, will the Leader of the House find time for a debate on the problems of the farming industry?

Mr. Bowden

I cannot promise anything at the moment, but it would provide a very good subject for a Supply day.

Mr. Marten

Due to the discord over the Concord, when can we expect a statement?

The Prime Minister

Not next week.

Mr. Bowden

I doubt whether it will come very soon—not next week, but as soon as possible.

Mr. Buck

Will the Leader of the House provide an early opportunity to debate the important topic of law reform, of which we heard so much before the General Election? Is he aware that such a debate would enable us to find out what, if any, is the rôle of the Minister without Portfolio?

Mr. Bowden

I cannot forecast an actual date when we shall have such legislation. I assure the hon. Gentleman that there is a great deal coming in that direction, but I cannot give a date.

Sir C. Osborne

How soon does the Leader of the House expect it will be before the First Secretary will be in a position to make a statement on his negotiations with the trade unions with the hope of getting the incomes policy that we so much require?

Mr. Bowden

This one will certainly not be next week.

Sir C. Osborne

This year?