HC Deb 04 February 1965 vol 705 cc1290-6
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, 8TH FEBRUARY—Second Reading of the Law Commissions Bill, and the remaining stages of the Kenya Republic Bill.

TUESDAY, 9TH FEBRUARY—Supply [5th Allotted Day]: Motion to move Mr. Speaker out of the Chair, when debate will arise on an Opposition Amendment relating to the Aircraft Industry.

WEDNESDAY, 10TH FEBRUARY—Remaining stages of the Ministerial Salaries and Members' Pensions Bill.

Second Reading of the Armed Forces (Housing Loans) Bill.

THURSDAY, 11TH FEBRUARY—Second Reading of the Gas Bill, and the remaining stages of the Nuclear Installations (Amendment) Bill.

FRIDAY, 12TH FEBRUARY—Private Members' Bills.

MONDAY, 15TH FEBRUARY—The proposed business will be: Debate on a Motion to take note of the Report of the Departmental Committee on the Law on Sunday Observance (Command No. 2528).

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

The Leader of the House will be aware that from time to time my hon. Friends have been asking that there should be time found for a debate on the affairs of Northern Ireland. In the light of recent events this has become more urgent and I therefore ask that time should be found by the Government for such a debate.

Mr. Bowden

It has been customary to have a full day's debate, or perhaps two half-days, on Northern Ireland in the latter part of the Session. We might meet the convenience of the Opposition and talk through the usual channels about bringing it forward.

Mr. Lubbock

Can the Leader of the House say when we shall have a debate on the public services and Armed Forces pensions and, in particular, on the pledges that were given by the Government before the General Election on this subject?

Mr. Bowden

We still await the promised statement and when that comes forward I will consider a debate.

Mr. Dodds

Can my right hon. Friend find time next week for a debate on the Motion on the Order Paper relating to the restriction on cigarette advertising and the need to stop this advertising on commercial television? Is he aware that there are many hon. Members on this side of the House, and even on the opposite side, who would strongly support a move of this sort?

[That this House, gravely concerned at the expenditure of large sums of money on the advertising of cigarettes and at the impact of such advertising on young people, in view of the proven dangers to health, including cancer, caused by cigarette smoking, urges Her Majesty's Government to stop all cigarette advertising on commercial television forthwith as the first step towards restricting such advertising in all media.]

Mr. Bowden

I am aware of the Motion, which has been on the Order Paper for some weeks now. There is a very great deal of interest in this subject, particularly in the effect of television advertising of cigarettes after nine o'clock at night, and its effect on children. I understand from my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health that he hopes to make a statement in the near future.

Mr. Peyton

May I ask the Leader of the House whether we may take it that the very welcome decision of the Government to go ahead with the Gas Bill—which is a sensible, forward-looking Measure—means that it will be much more difficult to find time for a steel Bill which is likely to be neither of those things?

Mr. Bowden

I do not foresee any difficulty whatever at the moment.

Mr. George Jeger

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is serious concern among hon. Members on both sides of the House about the situation in Gibraltar? As several Government Departments are involved in this matter, would he say whether in the near future we may have a co-ordinated statement of the position and the steps which the Government propose to take to help Gibraltar to overcome the Spanish blockade?

Mr. Bowden

There has already been a long Written Answer—I think that it was on Monday of this week—but I appreciate that there is a good deal of interest by hon. Members, I hope on both sides of the House. I will ask my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary whether we may have a further statement.

Mr. William Clark

Can the Leader of the House say how soon we may have a debate on mortgage interest rates, so that his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer may have an opportunity to withdraw his untimely attack on the building societies?

Mr. Bowden

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that, but for an unhappy event last week, we should have had a debate on this last week, on an Opposition Motion. There will be further Supply Days and perhaps the usual channels will get together and see whether we may have a debate later.

Mr. Lipton

If the Opposition Motion on the aircraft industry, to be discussed next Tuesday, will be more or less equivalent to a Motion of censure on the Government, has my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House obtained any assurance from the Leader of the Opposition that he will seek to discourage any repetition of the vulgar and discreditable brawling in which Opposition members indulged so freely last Tuesday night?

Mr. Bowden

I hope that last Tuesday's effort was the last one of that sort which we shall see in the House. The House knows that I personally have for a long time resisted any idea of television cameras coming into this place; but if they had been here last night it would have had a salutary effect.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal Party and his hon. Friends intend to abstain next Tuesday, as they did last Tuesday?

Sir D. Renton

Is the Leader of the House aware that the Minister of Housing and Local Government yesterday made an unusually important statement about the development of the south-east of England and that he did so on a day when he does not normally answer Questions and without even giving notice to those Members whose constituencies were specifically mentioned in his statement, as my hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Sir Harmar Nicholls) pointed out at the time?

Would the Leader of the House make some arrangements whereby the House can be informed—or, at any rate, Members whose constituencies are involved can be informed—when such statements are to be made? Will he also consider arranging for an early debate on yesterday's statement?

Mr. Bowden

The practice has been, at least for as long as I have been here, for copies of all statements to be handed to the official Opposition, but never to individual Members. I will certainly convey to my right hon. Friend the suggestion that he may consider a debate later in the Session.

Mr. Rowland

Would my right hon. Friend consider providing some time next week for a special discussion on the Hawker-Siddeley redundancies, especially in view of your decision, Mr. Speaker, that we cannot have a debate on the situation today? I should like some assurance on this, because it is a matter of grave public importance and there is great doubt as to the company's calculations.

Mr. Bowden

It is not for me to rule on what is and what is not in order, but I should have thought that this would be completely in order on Tuesday's debate.

Mr. Prior

Will the Leader of the Opposition find time next week for the Government—[Laughter.] Will the Leader of the so-called Government find time next week to make an apology to hon. Members on this side of the House arising from the statement made this afternoon by his right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary, which has resulted now in a completely different attitude to immigration by the Government, and for the scurrilous attacks which were made on hon. Members on this side, both during the election and in the period when the Bill was going through the House?

Mr. Speaker

Order. I wish the House would have some regard to my task. We have so much to do these days before we can get on with our business, that we must, in common decency, restrict business questions to business questions proper.

Mr. H. Hynd

Has my right hon. Friend's attention been drawn to Motion No. 1 on the Order Paper, in the names of myself and 76 other hon. Members on both sides of the House, about railway superannuitants? Can he hold out any hope that there will be an early discussion on this subject?

[That this House notes with regret that the Pensions (Increase) Acts do not provide for railway superannuitants whose pensions fail to match rises in the cost of living, and urges Her Majesty's Government to rectify this anomaly in future legislation.]

Mr. Bowden

I have noted this Motion and the way it is kept alive from time to time, with a good deal of ingenuity on the part of hon. Members who are interested. This is really a matter for the British Transport Commission and the Railways Board. I will see what can be done about a debate.

Mr. Robert Cooke

Can the Leader of the House tell us when we shall have the long-promised debate on Government policy and the arts, which has often been referred to? When do the Government propose to publish their White Paper on their policy on the arts?

Mr. Bowden

I understand that the White Paper is getting nearer, and when we have seen it there may be an opportunity for a short debate.

Sir Harmar Nicholls

As this is the one day when back-bench Members have contact with the Leader of the House, may I pursue the point made by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Huntingdonshire (Sir D. Renton)? We have to have other statements from the Minister of Housing and Local Government which will affect constituencies, and although it is not reasonable for back-bench Members to have copies of the statements is it not reasonable for back-bench Members to have notice that their constituencies are likely to be mentioned in the statements?

Mr. Bowden

I think that there is probably something in this point where a particular constituency is mentioned. I will discuss this with my right hon. Friends.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis

Is the Leader of the House aware that a few weeks ago it was reported that the Minister of Technology said that, although the Parliamentary machine is very good, it irritates because of its slowness? As it will be about a month before we can listen to the Minister of Technology answering Questions at the Dispatch Box, will the Leader of the House provide a special opportunity next week so as to show that we are capable of some fast bowling to the Minister if we can get at him?

Mr. Speaker

We cannot play cricket now.

Mr. Peter Emery

Would the Leader of the House have words with the Minister of Transport to see whether next week a statement can be made about the new line of the M.4? Because of certain action at the Ministry of Transport, there is considerable concern in Berkshire and a statement at the earliest possible moment is more than essential.

Mr. Bowden

I am quite sure that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport will note the question put by the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Awdry

In view of the widespread uncertainty which exists, will the right hon. Gentleman tell us when the Government will bring forward the Bill for the setting up of the Lands Commission?

Mr. Bowden

During this Session.

Mr. Lubbock

I was not under the impression that the Leader of the House is responsible for the presence or absence of hon. Members of the Opposition, but since the Leader of the Opposition has put a question on this subject perhaps I may ask him how it came about that last night there were only 123 Tories here out of a possible strength of 298?

Mr. Speaker

The multifarious duties of the Leader of the House do not include accounting for the whereabouts of hon. Members of the Opposition.

Sir C. Osborne

Would the Leader of the House consider arranging an emergency debate next week on the statement made by the Governor of the Bank of England, in the presence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that, unless there is a serious cut in central Government and local government expenditure, we shall face a graver sterling crisis than that which we have just gone through? Will he find time urgently to debate that matter?

Mr. Bowden

No, Sir, not next week.

Sir C. Osborne

Why not?