HC Deb 20 May 1965 vol 712 cc1665-71
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, 24TH MAY—Further progress with the Committee stage of the Finance (No. 2) Bill, which will be continued on TUESDAY, 25TH MAY, WEDNESDAY, 26TH MAY, THURSDAY, 27TH MAY, and also on MONDAY, 31ST MAY.

FRIDAY, 28TH MAY—Private Members' Motions.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

To relieve the monotony a bit, and while understanding the difficulties about fixing an actual date for the debate on the Commonwealth, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether that debate will take place next week or the week after?

Mr. Bowden

Not next week, but certainly the week after.

Mr. Shinwell

Since the Leader of the Opposition is anxious to relieve the monotony, could we not arrange to have morning meetings to discuss the Finance Bill?

Mr. Bowden

Certainly not next week, Sir.

Mr. Lubbock

In view of the business statement, and since it appears that we will be occupied almost into the indefinite future on the Finance Bill, may we take it that the Government have dropped the Steel Bill?

Mr. Bowden

No, Sir. The Bill will be introduced and its Second Reacting will take place in due course.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Can the Leader of the House say when we may expect the White Paper on land policy, of which we were informed last week?

Mr. Bowden

No, Sir. It will certainly not be next week some time after Whit-sun.

Mr. Mendelson

Since the time of the House is to be occupied exclusively on the Finance Bill and in view of the dangerous situation, particularly in South-East Asia, which still persists—and particularly in view of the resumed large-scale bombing operations in South Vietnam—will my right hon. Friend reconsider his original decision about there not being time for a foreign affairs debate before Whitsun? Will he at least give the House an assurance that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will make a comprehensive statement on the situation in South-East Asia before we adjourn for Whitsun?

Mr. Bowden

I cannot promise a debate before Whitsun. We will certainly have one after Whitsun, probably some time in June or July.

On my right hon. Friend's second point, I will consult my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary.

Sir M. Redmayne

Has the right hon. Gentleman noted the important agricultural statement which was made yesterday in a Written Answer on a day when the Minister of Agriculture himself was answering orally in the House? If, as we expect, similar important statements are to be made, perhaps next week, could they be made in the proper form to the House and not pushed out of the way by admissions of muddle and incompetence by the Paymaster-General and the Attorney-General and other Ministers of this moribund Government?

Mr. Bowden

The right hon. Gentleman knows probably better than any hon. or right hon. Gentleman in the House the thin line of decision between whether a statement should be made orally at the end of Questions or in a Written Answer. In this case, because of the technicalities of the statement which had to be made and of its length, it was thought that, on balance, it would be better to make it at the end of Questions as a Written Answer.

Mr. Allaun

Could you tell me, Mr. Speaker, at what juncture it is correct to raise my complaint?

Mr. Speaker

Yes, but not during business questions.

Dame Irene Ward

May I ask the Leader of the House whether it would be possible to arrange a debate on the Prime Minister? Is he aware that I would like to know what the Paymaster-General's roles are and that I would like to complain about the Prime Minister's rudeness to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition?

Mr. Bowden

I understand that the hon. Lady's question is about a debate on my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. That could be taken on a Supply day, if the Opposition so wished. However, the Opposition would be in some difficulty in deciding who to put up from the benches opposite.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Has my right hon. Friend's attention been drawn to Motion No. 216? Is he aware that, owing to my enthusiasm for the Finance Bill, I do not want time for that Motion and that I would refuse to take the time even if my right hon. Friend offered it to me?

[That this House notes with satisfaction the welcome to royalty received in Germany, and that this visit is regarded as likely to end old hatreds and animosities, and would welcome the news that the visit is to be extended to include such cities as Weimar, Leipzig and Dresden.]

Mr. Bowden

I am always delighted to see early day Motions on the Order Paper for which no time is required.

Mr. Kershaw

Has the right hon. Gentleman seen Motion No. 217, concerning the increasing petulance of Ministers of the Government? If so, will he give time for it to be debated?

[That this House, concerned with the growing intolerance of Her Majesty's Government and the Parliamentary Labour Party towards the expression by leaders in industry and commerce of sincerely held views which may be deemed to be critical of the present Government, affirms its determination to resist this trend towards authoritarianism and zealously to protect the right of free speech.]

Mr. Bowden

I have considered this question of the intolerance of the Government to defend themselves in the circumstances. I understand that the banks sent a letter to the Governor of the Bank of England, which has happened on other occasions, but on this occasion decided to print it.

Mr. Hamling

Has my right hon. Friend noted early day Motion No. 215

[That this House condemns the Paymaster-General for resorting to vulgar abuse in expressing his attitude to a large and increasing number of Her Majesty's loyal subjects; and urges him henceforth to conduct himself more in accord with his responsibilities, whatever these may he, as a Minister of the Crown.]

which stands in the names of a number of hon. Gentlemen opposite, and the Amendments to it

[Line 1, leave out from "House" to end and add "welcomes the robust manner in which the Paymaster-General disposes of trivialities at Question time."]

[Line 1, leave out from "House" to end and add "considers that the sharp expressions uttered on 17th May by the Paymaster-General were the natural reaction of an able and vigorous Minister to prolonged, frivolous and malicious goading, culminating in a sneer at his service in the ranks of the Regular Army, by a number of hon. Gentlemen who should have known better."]

in the names of several of my hon. Friends? Is he aware that we would be delighted to debate that Motion and the Amendments?

Mr. Bowden

I have seen the Motion, and the Amendments, but I cannot offer time for them to be debated.

Mr. Iremonger

Will the Leader of the House find it convenient to attend the debate on Friday week on the televising of Parliament, which, I am sure, would be greatly appreciated by the House?

Mr. Bowden

Yes, Sir. Despite a certain personal embarrassment I have decided to speak in that debate.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins

Has my right hon. Friend seen Motion No. 205 standing in the names of several of my hon. Friends and I concerning the policy of Her Majesty's Government in the Dominican Republic?

[That this House, noting that the rebellion in the Dominican Republic was against a military dictatorship and for the purpose of restoring to office a president described in The Times as "the first freely elected head of the Dominican Republic for 38 years", deplores the build-up of United States forces, notes the criticisms by many Latin-American States of United States policy and actions in the Dominican Republic, and urges Her Majesty's Government not to give support to the policy and actions of the United States Government in this respect.]

If he agrees, as I think he will, that this is a matter which should be clarified, and if time to debate it cannot be found, will he consult the Foreign Secretary with a view to his making a statement?

Mr. Bowden

Yes, Sir. There was a Private Notice Question recently, but I will certainly consult my right hon. Friend.

Sir D. Glover

Would the Leader of the House not think about reorganising Government business in view of the fact that they have got themselves into such a mess? We will be debating the Finance Bill for four days in succession, one of his hon. Friends wants a debate on foreign affairs and many hon. Members want a Commonwealth affairs debate before the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' conference. Will the right hon. Gentleman not look at the programme and agree that some of these things must be debated at a very early date?

Mr. Bowden

It is normal to get the Finance Bill to the House of Lords by a certain time in the year. That we must endeavour to do, and, I am sure that we will do it. It may be that for a while, and this is not unusual, we will have to spend a considerable time on the Finance Bill. There will be plenty of time afterwards.

Mr. Heath

Will the right hon. Gentleman also take note of the tremendous burden that all this places on his colleagues, including the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury? It is already apparent from the startling revelations that have been made so far in Committee on the Finance Bill—about forthcoming additional taxation on the family motor car and about the next Budget—that the strain is beginning to tell and that soon they will crack. What arrangements is the right hon. Gentleman making?

Mr. Bowden

These are early days to talk about cracking on the Finance Bill. We have had only two days on the Committee stage as yet. There is no evidence so far of any cracking on this side.

Mr. Wilkins

Further to the questions asked by the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover) and the right hon. Member for Bexley (Mr. Heath), will my right hon. Friend confirm or deny that it is the intention of the Government to recall the House on 8th June?

Mr. Bowden

I can confirm that I will make a statement next week on the Whit-sun Recess.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

In view of the grave uncertainty in the steel industry, and also among hon. Members below the Gangway on the other side of the Chamber, can the Leader of the House give us a firm assurance that the phrase "in due course" used in connection with the Steel Bill means before the Summer Recess?

Mr. Bowden

I do not think that there is any difficulty on this side of the House at all. I have said before, and I repeat, that we shall introduce the Steel Bill and the Land Bill when we are ready to do so.

Sir G. Nicholson

Has the attention of the Leader of the House been called to what happened yesterday when, for various reasons, the Notice Paper of Amendments was not in possession of the House in Committee until several hours after the sitting had begun? Will he try to see that that does not happen again?

Mr. Bowden

I am aware of what happened, and I am having inquiries made.

Mr. Deedes

With reference to next week's business, can the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether the proposed debate on televising the proceedings of the House is likely to be affected by the announcement that a Select Committee is to undertake an inquiry into this subject?

Mr. Bowden

This had occurred to me, too, but from inquiries I have made I am given to understand that the rule on anticipation does not affect the debate on the Friday.