HC Deb 22 July 1965 vol 716 cc1835-42
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, 26TH JULY—Supply [24th Allotted Day]: Committee.

Debate on Industry and Employment in Scotland.

Remaining stages of the Public Works Loans Bill, and of the Backing of Warrants (Republic of Ireland) Bill [Lords].

TUESDAY, 27TH JULY—Lords Amendments to the Trade Disputes Bill.

Remaining stages of the Commons Registration Bill [Lords], and of the Patents (Employees' Inventions) Bill [Lords].

WEDNESDAY, 28TH JULY—Supply [25th Allotted Day]: Committee, when, if the House agrees, the Questions will be put forthwith.

Debate on an Opposition Motion on the Cost of Living.

Remaining stages of the International Monetary Fund Bill.

Motion on the Weights and Measures (Exemption) Order.

Second Reading of the following Consolidation Measures: National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Bill [Lords].

Family Allowances Bill [Lords].

National Health Service Contributions Bill [Lords].

National Insurance Bill [Lords].

Statute Law Revision (Consequential Repeals) Bill [Lords].

Compulsory Purchase Bill [Lords].

Nuclear Installations Bill [Lords].

Ministerial Salaries Consolidation Bill [Lords].

New Towns Bill [Lords].

THURSDAY, 29TH JULY—Supply [26th Allotted Day]: Report, when if the House agrees, the Questions will be put forthwith.

Debate on an Opposition Motion on the Labour Party's Election Pledges.

Remaining stages of the Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages (Scotland) Bill [Lords].

FRIDAY, 30TH JULY—Motions on the White Fish and Herring Subsidy Schemes, on the White Fish and Herring Industries Orders, on the Small Farm (Business Management) Schemes, on the Price Stability of Imported Products Order, on the Visiting Forces and International Headquarters and Defence Organisations Orders, and on the Greenwich Hospital and Travers' Foundation.

MONDAY, 2ND AUGUST—The proposed business will be: Second Reading of the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

That sounds like a good mixed bag for next week. Will the Leader of the House say when the statement will be made on immigration? I saw suggestions about it on the tape, and I should like to know whether he can say when this will be made.

Mr. Bowden

Yes, Sir. I had hoped to make this statement towards the end of next week. That may not now be possible. But it will be made early in the following week, to be followed on the same day, or as soon as possible afterwards, by a White Paper.

Mr. Grimond

Does the Leader of the House remember that last week I asked him whether a statement could be made about the negotiations on Rhodesia before the House rose? I should be grateful for some information, especially in view of the Minister of State's visit to that Commonwealth.

Secondly, may I ask him for a little more information about the Consolidated Fund Bill? This is a Bill on which any Member may raise a variety of topics. Is it intended to divide up the time? Have conversations taken place about it? For the convenience of the House, might it not be an advantage if all General Election promises were circulated before the debate next Thursday?

Mr. Bowden

My hon. Friend the Minister of State, Commonwealth Relations, is at the moment in Rhodesia, and if the statement can be made next week or the week after that, no doubt this will be done. I will consult the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations.

It is normal, on the Second Reading of the Consolidated Fund Bill, to take it formally, and the Opposition then choose a subject for debate. But on subsequent stages, including Report and Third Reading, it has become the practice over a number of years for this to be wide open for general discussion raised by hon. Members from both sides of the House.

Mr. Shinwell

In view of the congested state of the business, may I remind my right hon. Friend of my suggestion last Thursday about having a morning meeting? Could we not at any rate dispose of the Lords at a morning meeting?

Mr. Bowden

Despite the length of the list of Measures read out for Wednesday of next week which have come to us from another place, they are all consolidation Measures. The House is aware from our procedure that such Measures go through very quickly and ought not to take up any time.

Despite what was said during the exchanges on business on Thursday of last week about the possibility of sitting into the second week of August, I am now very hopeful that we can conclude our business at the end of the first week of August without going on unduly late, or without sitting in the morning.

Sir C. Osborne

On the question of the welcome and much-awaited Government White Paper on immigration, may I ask whether the Leader of the House will be able to find time before the Recess to discuss it?

Mr. Bowden

No, Sir. I cannot promise any time before the Recess. But if there is a desire to do so, we can, of course, still debate it within the present Session.

Mr. Blenkinsop

Is there any chance of having a debate on the now three Reports of the Select Committee on Procedure which are available? Would it not be a very good subject to take in a morning?

Mr. Bowden

I understand that the third Report has only just reached us, and I think that the House would like a little time in which to consider it. I would certainly arrange for a full debate on the three Reports during this Session.

Sir C. Taylor

When may we expect the promised White Paper on loans to developing countries, which we were promised recently?

Mr. Bowden

I cannot give the actual date, but I know that the Minister of Overseas Development has this very much in mind and I hope that it may be before the House rises for the Recess.

Mr. Frank Allaun

Could the Leader of the House tell us whether the Rent Bill is to become law before the recess, as otherwise rent reductions and protection from eviction will be delayed for at least four months?

Mr. Bowden

Protection from eviction is covered by the Protection from Eviction Act. I am not quite sure of the progress of the Rent Bill in another place. We shall have to wait to see what happens there, but certainly we shall get it on the Statute Book during this Session.

Mr. Soames

Will a statement be made this week on the future of the Territorial Army, and, if so, on what day?

Mr. Bowden

I have no information on that at the moment.

Sir G. de Freitas

Does the Leader of the House remember that a few weeks ago he held out a hope that the Opposition might choose to debate the Knapp report on the advantages which the farmers derive from agricultural production provided that it was divorced from the National Farmers' Union? Have the Opposition asked for such a debate?

Mr. Bowden

As far as I remember I said that I could not find Government time, but the Opposition might wish to debate it. There is still one Supply day left for the week after next. The Opposition could do it then if they wished.

Sir H. Legge-Bourke

Are the Government intending to find time to enable the Minister of Technology to make a statement on the Report from the Estimates Committee which has reported recently on how that Ministry is being built up? In view of the very severe strictures of the Estimates Committee on this matter, does the right hon. Gentleman not consider that we should have a statement from the Minister of Technology before we rise for the Recess? If not, can the right hon. Gentleman give an undertaking that the Minister of Technology will be available to answer questions on this matter in the debate on the Consolidated Fund Bill?

Mr. Bowden

Debates on Reports from the Estimates Committee and the Public Accounts Committee take place three days each Session. Those three days have been used up in the present Session, and I cannot promise what will happen in the next Session. I will certainly communicate my hon. Friend's second point to my right hon. Friend.

Mr. William Hamilton

Is my right hon. Friend aware that it would be very improper of the Minister of Technology to make comments on that Report before the departmental reply has been made to the Estimates Committee? Will he take note that his reply on the question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Blenkinsop) is a very unsatisfactory reply, when we have been promised a debate on the Reports from the Select Committee on Procedure and that one of these, at least, on the problem of Question Hour was regarded as extremely urgent, and ought to be tackled long before the beginning of the next Session?

May I ask my right hon. Friend when he will be in a position to make a statement on the problem of the leadership of the Opposition? It is causing a great deal of concern.

Mr. Bowden

On the question of Reports from the Estimates Committee, the procedure is that we await the Report and replies from the Department. No doubt we shall do that. On the second question, the debate on the Report of the Select Committee on Procedure, I am sure that the House would agree that if it is to take action, other than debate—perhaps both, and I hope that we shall—there now seems to be some case for looking at the Third Report, which reached us this morning.

I cannot comment on my hon. Friend's last point. It is not for me to do so, but I understand that a selection conference is going on.

Mr. Farr

In view of the recent critical development in Agriculture and also the urgent need to review harvest prospects, can the right hon. Gentleman say whether we can have a debate on this subject before the House rises?

Mr. Bowden

I cannot find Government time, but it could be done, of course, in private Members' time on the Consolidated Fund Bill, or a Motion for the Adjournment.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

In view of the unprecedented achievement of my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Sydney Silverman) in making both the House of Commons and the House of Lords work overtime in the morning, does my right hon. Friend not think we should have a statue of him in the Lobby?

Mr. Speaker

That hardly arises on next week's business.

Mr. Braine

In view of the widespread and continuing anxiety on the subject of world liquidity and the prospects for international trade, and of the possibilities of further strains being experienced in the autumn, would the Leader of the House find time to discuss these important subjects before we rise for the Recess?

Mr. Bowden

No, I cannot promise Government time, but there has been a rumour of an economics debate the week after next.

Mrs. Renée Short

May I draw my right hon. Friend's attention to early day Motion No. 303, which now has over 100 names added to it? He will be aware that few Motions in this House get so much support from hon. Members of all parties in the House. Will my right hon. Friend take urgent steps to discuss the request in that Motion at the earliest possible time, with a view to acceding to the request that early next Session the Government will find time for legislation for reform of the abortion law? The support in the House is a reflection of the mounting pressure outside, particularly among women's organisations.

[That this House regrets the continued refusal of Her Majesty's Government to promise to find time for legislation to modernise and liberalise the law on abortion; believes that such legislation has the overwhelming support of the people and should not be thwarted by the pressures of vocal minorities; and calls on Her Majesty's Government to provide time, early in the next session of Parliament, for this humanitarian measure.]

Mr. Bowden

I have noted the great interest in this Motion but I cannot promise Government time this Session. As far as next Session is concerned, of course at this stage, and till we have heard the Queen's Speech, it is difficult to decide what is likely to happen in that one.

Captain Orr

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether his hopes about the second week in August mean that a debate on Northern Ireland will take place during the first week in August?

Mr. Bowden

I think that we can expect it this present Session.

Mr. Orme

May I return to the question of the Rent Bill? May I ask my right hon. Friend whether he is aware of the great anxiety on this side of the House that that Bill becomes law before we rise, even if it means taking an extra day or two, when it comes back from the House of Lords? Cannot we get this very important Bill on the Statute Book as soon as possible—before the House rises for the Recess?

Mr. Bowden

I really think that we shall have to wait for progress on the Bill in another place before we can decide what we shall do.

Mr. Lubbock

Will the right hon. Gentleman recall that Thursday after Thursday hon. Members on both sides of the House have asked for a debate on public service and Armed Forces' pensions? Can we not have a day to debate that before the Recess?

Mr. Bowden

No, I cannot promise a day for a debate, but, again, it would be in order on Report or Third Reading of the Consolidated Fund Bill, or on a Motion for the Adjournment of the House.

Mr. Marten

Or the debate on election pledges.

Sir F. Bennett

I understand that there is to be a statement on immigration next week or the week after next. Is it really the view of the Leader of the House that we should not have an opportunity to debate this question before the House rises?

Mr. Bowden

It is only recently since we had our last debate on immigration, when we all felt that this was a nonparty matter. I think that perhaps we had better await the statement and the White Paper, which may come on Monday or Tuesday of the week after next, before any request is made for a debate. If it is made, and it is felt worth while considering it and having a debate, I will try to meet the point.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

I think that we must get on.