HC Deb 03 August 1965 vol 717 cc1273-8
Mr. Edward Heath

May I ask the Leader of the House to state the business of the House for the first week after the Recess?

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

Yes, Sir. It is proposed that the House should resume after the Summer Adjournment on Tuesday, 26th October, when the business will be as follows:

TUESDAY, 26TH OCTOBER—Debate on Northern Ireland, until 7 p.m.

Afterwards, the remaining stages of the Patents (Employees' Inventions) Bill [Lords].

Second Reading of the Matrimonial Causes Bill [Lords] and of the Superannuation Bill [Lords], which are consolidation Measures.

WEDNESDAY, 27TH OCTOBER—Debate will take place on the Reports of the Select Committee on Procedure, when the House will be invited to approve changes in our practice and Standing Orders.

THURSDAY, 28TH OCTOBER—Lords Amendments to the Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Bill.

FRIDAY, 29TH OCTOBER—Remaining stages of the Matrimonial Causes Bill [Lords] and of the Superannuation Bill [Lords], which are consolidation Measures.

Motion on the Greenwich Hospital and Travers' Foundation.

MONDAY, 1ST NOVEMBER—The proposed business will be: Lords Amendments to the Rent Bill.

Other business for the spill-over includes a debate on Welsh Affairs, and a debate on the Report of the Select Committee on the Palace of Westminster.

It may be convenient for me to add that Prorogation is expected to take place during the week beginning Monday, 1st November, and the openinig of the new Session on Tuesday, 9th November.

I would remind the House that power already exists for Mr. Speaker, upon representations being made by the Government, to call the House together at an earlier date if such a course should be necessary in the public interest.

Mr. Heath

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that we shall not hesitate to ask the Government to recall the House if we think it right to do so because of the economic situation with which we are faced?

Mr. Bowden

, Yes, Sir. This is usual. Representations from the official Opposition or from Members of the House will be received by the Government, who will approach Mr. Speaker in the normal way.

Mr. Woodburn

In the proposals for procedure, is my right hon. Friend considering the question of televising the House, with a view of letting the public see how some hon. Members behave in it at certain times of the night?

Mr. Bowden

My right hon. Friend will be aware that the question of televising Parliament is before the Select Committee on Publications and Debates at present.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

Following upon that supplementary question, and relating to the business announced for Wednesday, 27th October, the right hon. Gentleman said that the House would be invited to approve changes in our practice and Standing Orders. What notice will we receive of those changes? What time will we have to consider them before the debate?

Mr. Bowden

We have already had three Reports from the Select Committee on Procedure, and I have been pressed for a debate on those Reports for a number of weeks. We shall have discussions through the usual channels, and the decisions to implement any of the recommendations contained in any of the three Reports will arise from the Reports.

Mr. Lubbock

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that my right hon. Friends are extremely worried about the delay in passing the Rent Bill, and that we think that this should have been done before we rose for the Summer Recess? Can the right hon. Gentleman ask his right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government to make a statement before we rise, saying what his plans are for the appointment of rent assessment committees and rent officers, and to what extent this can be done before the Bill is on the Statute Book?

Mr. Bowden

The hon. Member will be aware that the Bill is still before another place. On his second point, I will certainly consult my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Orme

Can my right hon. Friend tell the House exactly what business we shall be allowed to discuss on Northern Ireland, and whether it will be possible to discuss the electoral malpractices that take place in the Six Counties?

Mr. Bowden

I am not yet sure of the form of the debate, but a day is usually given in a Session for a debate on Northern Ireland. We have had one half day, and this is the second half. I think that anything that can be raised in connection with Northern Ireland will be in order.

Sir Harmar Nicholls

From his special position as Leader of the House, can the right hon. Gentleman tell us what are the chances of this Parliament being dissolved while we are in recess?

Mr. Bowden

Not without notice.

Mr. Snow

With reference to my right hon. Friend's comment on the debate on procedure, will he confirm that should the Select Committee by any chance publish another report during the Recess it will be in order for that new report also to be debated?

Mr. Bowden

I hope so. I hope that this will be a fairly wide debate. It is a whole day's debate. The Government will bring forward certain recommendations, for the approval of the House. I have it very much in mind that some of them might be left to a free vote of the House. On the other hand, the Government must reserve their position, as some of them will be definitely Government recommendations.

Mr. Gower

Can the right hon. Gentleman imagine the outcry there would have been from hon. Members on his own side who represent Welsh constituencies had a Conservative Government relegated Welsh business to the very "fag-end" of a Session, offering either a half day before the Recess or this little bit after the Recess?

Mr. Bowden

If the hon. Member will charge his memory, he will find that the Welsh debate has always taken place in the last week or so before the end of the Session. That is where it is now.

Mr. Richard

Is my right hon. Friend aware that a large section of the general public consider that the House is being brought into great disrepute by the sight of sick and ailing Members of Parliament being wheeled out of taxi-cabs and into the precincts of the Palace of Westminster? Would he confirm that, in the debate on procedure on Wednesday, 27th October, we will not be inhibited from discussing the possibility of proxy voting for medical reasons?

Mr. Bowden

I have already said that this will be a wide debate. I think that I am right in saying that this subject is at the moment before the Select Committee on Procedure. Whether it will report on it in time is not a matter for me.

Mr. Kershaw

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the kite flown by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs yesterday was a good one, although the position has been obscured again by the Prime Minister this afternoon? Will he not be too afraid of the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) and give the House an opportunity fairly soon to discuss what is the position of the Labour Party vis-à-vis Europe, which is now very much in doubt

Mr. Bowden

I do not think that it is very clear what is the attitude on the Opposition side of the House towards Europe either, with the honourable exception of the Liberal Party. There might be an opportunity to discuss Europe, but I cannot promise it for the spill-over.

Mr. William Hamilton

With regard to the debate on procedure, on Wednesday, 27th October, does my right hon. Friend think it satisfactory that the Government should present the House with what amounts to a fait accompli before they have heard what hon. Members on both sides of the House have to say on the Reports from the Select Committee? Would it not be better for the Government to listen and then to act in view of what hon. Members have said?

On the business on the Monday after we come back—the Rent Bill—in view of the fact that the Bill has been delayed from getting on to the Statute Book for three months by the House of Lords, will he not consider at a future date an emergency debate on how to deal with this wretched place along the corridor, to prevent this kind of thing happening?

Mr. Bowden

My hon. Friend's second point is a constitutional point, which would hardly arise on procedure. At some point, no doubt, an hon. Member might select this matter for discussion in private Member's time, but my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has made it absolutely clear that he expects no change whatsoever in the constitutional position vis-à-vis the House of Lords without a mandate from the electorate. This has been said a number of times. This is not the last procedural debate which we shall have. No doubt there will be other occasions when things may arise from the first debate that ought to be taken into consideration, but we have had three Reports for some weeks from the Select Committee and perhaps we ought to implement some of its recommendations.

Mr. Gibson-Watt

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the answer he gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) is not exactly correct and that, in over the 17 years during which we have had Welsh debates since 1944, only on three occasions has it been necessary to put it into the left-over? Will he assure us that we can have a fell day's debate on Welsh affairs on the day which is chosen?

Mr. Bowden

The hon. Member himself is not quite correct. What I said was that the Welsh debate has usually taken place during the two or three weeks before the end of the Session. When the Session has ended in July, and there has been no spill-over, he would be accurate in saying that the debate has taken place then. In this case, there is a spill-over and the debate will take place in October.

Mr. Popplewell

Will my right hon. Friend ensure that when we are discussing the Report from the Select Committee on Procedure the debate will also embrace previous recommendations of the Committee, in particular, that dealing with the question of the publication of Select Committee Reports, particularly those of the Select Committee on the Nationalised Industries?

Mr. Bowden

Yes, Sir, that would be quite in order on the general debate.

Mr. Heath

May I ask the Leader of the House whether, when we are invited to approve changes in practice and Standing Orders, these will be put down in the form of formal amendments to Standing Orders or in a general Motion, setting out what is proposed? If so, how much notice of this will the House be given? It appears that there will only be 24 hours' notice, if that. Is it not unwise and unfair to the House to ask us to make these amendments and changes in procedure at such short notice?

Mr. Bowden

I do not expect that the recommendations arising from the three Reports of the Select Committee on Procedure will be very highly controversial: they have been approved almost unanimously by that Committee. We can have discussions through the usual channels on these points, which, perhaps, we ought to do. There is no intention on the part of the Government to endeavour to force through in the spill-over recommendations which have not been considered by the Select Committee on Procedure.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

We must go on now.