HC Deb 27 May 1965 vol 713 cc841-6
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, 31ST MAY, WEDNESDAY, 2ND JUNE, and THURSDAY, 3RD JUNE—Further progress with the Committee stage of the Finance (No. 2) Bill.

TUESDAY, 1ST JUNE—Debate on Commonwealth and Colonial Affairs, which will arise on a Motion for the Adjournment of the House.

FRIDAY, 4TH JUNE—It will be proposed that the House should rise for the Whitsun Adjournment until Monday, 14th June.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

May I return to the question which I raised with the Prime Minister at Question Time, when, I think, the Leader of the House was not here? Will he bear in mind that there is a great deal of interest in the situation in the Far East, in the Malaysian and Vietnam situations, and that the House on the whole would like a debate on these matters soon after we return from the Whitsun Recess?

Mr. Bowden

During our exchanges last week I said that I thought we should have a debate on foreign affairs after the Whitsun Recess. The right hon. Gentleman will recall that we gave the last day in Government time. He might consider giving a Supply day after the Recess.

Mr. Woodburn

It is usual, in the business statement, to give some idea of the business on the Monday on which we return. Can my right hon. Friend give us any idea of the subject to be discussed on that day?

Hon. Members

Finance Bill.

Mr. Bowden

I am not answering my right hon. Friend's question at this point, but I think that it is a fair guess to say that it may be the Committee stage of the Finance Bill.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

Can the right hon. Gentleman now say when he expects to bring foward the Bill for the nationalisation of the steel industry?

Mr. Bowden

The answer is the same as last week, "Not next week, Sir".

Mr. Mendelson

Does my right hon. Friend recall that, in answer to questions on business, he gave an assurance last week, that he would consult his right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary about a comprehensive statement on the situation in Vietnam? Has my right hon. Friend seen the statement yesterday by the American Secretary of State that he regards the situation there as very grave? In spite of that his Administration are to continue bombing operations in North Vietnam. In the light of this situation, is it not essential that the House should have a comprehensive statement from the Foreign Secretary before we adjourn for Whitsun?

Mr. Bowden

I have consulted my right hon. Friend about this. No doubt he will be making another statement. At this stage, I cannot say when.

Mr. Lubbock

In view of the Government's decision, announced this week, to adopt the metric system of weights and measures, will the right hon. Gentleman provide Government time for a debate on my Bill on decimal currency?

Mr. Bowden

No, Sir. I cannot promise that at the moment.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins

Has my right hon. Friend noted the Motion in my name on the illegal employment of children?

[That this House, noting that the employment of a child under the age of 12 years is a criminal offence, calls upon the Government to enforce the law in respect of the illegal employment of such children in commercial television advertising films.]

Is he aware that the law is being broken every day by the employment of children under 12 in commercial television advertising? Will he ask his right hon. and learned Friend to enforce the law until such time as a debate can be arranged on the subject and/or the law changed?

Mr. Bowden

My right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General has already answered a Question on this matter. I do not know whether he has anything fresh to say, but I shall communicate with him about it.

Mr. Hugh Fraser

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman to provide the opportunity for a debate on South-East Asia? It is no good shuffling this back to the Front Bench on my side of the House. Surely the duty of the Leader of the House is to find time, and to find it soon.

Mr. Bowden

I cannot add to what I have said, that we shall have a debate on foreign affairs after the Recess.

Mr. William Hamilton

As there will be three days next week on the Finance Bill, and there are likely to be some very late-night sittings at which votes will be taken, and bearing in mind that serious allegations have been made as to the breaking of the pairing arrangements last night and the difficulty of investigating them because the voting lists are not readily available to the Whips immediately after the voting, will my right hon. Friend undertake to make photostat copies of the voting as recorded in the Lobbies available to all the Whips' offices immediately after the voting so that they can undertake immediate investigations into any similar allegations?

Mr. Bowden

I would much prefer to leave this matter to the usual channels, but I do not think that there would be any difficulty, as far as I am aware, in either side having access to the Division lists immediately after a Division.

Mr. Evelyn King

Has the right hon. Gentleman seen Motion No. 221 about constituents' rights?

[That this House, noting a letter, dated 20th January, 1965, from the Minister of Public Building and Works addressed to the hon. Member for South Dorset telling him it was "not fitting" that representations relating to wage rates should be made by an industrial employee to his Member of Parliament, reaffirms the traditional right of a citizen to write to his Member on any subject whatsoever, confirms the sanctity of correspondence between a Member of Parliament and his constituents and asserts the duty of Ministers to reply to Members in such matters.]

Would not the right hon. Gentleman consider the action of a Minister in suggesting that it was "not fitting" for a constituent to write to his Member of Parliament to be an invasion of an historic right? If that is the opinion of the Minister concerned, ought it not to be debated by the House?

Mr. Bowden

I could not promise a debate on that subject. There is no doubt about the right of any member of the public to write to his Member of Parliament on any subject, but, in a case of this sort, which concerns an industrial civil servant, it would perhaps be better if he consulted through what are the normal channels within the method of employment rather than through his Member of Parliament and the Minister; but I am not suggesting that that is wrong.

Lady Megan Lloyd-George

Can my right hon. Friend say when the Land Commission Bill is likely to come before the House?

Mr. Bowden

No, Sir. I cannot give a firm promise at present.

Mr. Box

Will the right hon. Gentleman give the House an assurance that the First Secretary will be well enough to answer his Questions next week?

Hon. Members


Mr. Lipton

So that more rapid progress may be made with the Finance Bill, may I ask whether my right hon. Friend has received any representations from the Opposition for a shortened Whitsun Recess?

Mr. Bowden

No, Sir.

Sir H. Butcher

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider helping the House by restoring the pre-war practice of having a pairing book in the "No" Lobby?

Mr. Bowden

This has been discussed on a number of occasions during the last 20 years that I have been here. I think that the present system works pretty well, but it is a matter for the usual channels rather than for the Whips.

Mr. Dean

Has the right hon. Gentleman seen Motion No. 220, relating to public service and Armed Forces pensions?

[That this House, recognising the hardship of public service pensioners and those retired from the armed forces, and especially of the older pensioners in these groups whose pensions bear no relation to similar pensions now obtaining in the public service and the armed forces, urges Her Majesty's Government to introduce special provisions to improve such pensions.]

As the cost of living has risen four points since October, can the right hon. Gentleman say when we will be able to debate this Motion?

Mr. Bowden

I have said before in the House that a review is taking place, after which a statement will be made. No doubt, a debate will follow the statement.

Mr. Bessell

Has the right hon. Gentleman seen Motion No. 224, relating to the sale by the B.B.C., of the microphone used by H.R.H. the Duke of Windsor on the occasion of his abdication speech, and further reports that this microphone was sold by a former official of the B.B.C. in a quite unauthorised manner?

[That this House notes with concern the action of the British Broadcasting Corporation in selling for the sum of only twenty-five pounds to an American film producer the historic microphone used by His Royal Highness the Duke of Windsor on the occasion of his abdication broadcast, and calls upon Her Majesty's Government to introduce the necessary legislation to prevent the sale by public undertakings of articles of historic importance which should be the property of the nation.]

In view of the seriousness of the matter, will the right hon. Gentleman consider providing time to debate it?

Mr. Bowden

I should think that the sale of the surplus property of the B.B.C., however valuable, is a matter for the day-to-day working of the B.B.C. itself. In this case, I do not think that the B.B.C. has any means of identifying which particular microphone was used. I hope that the purchaser bought the actual microphone, unlike many people who, in similar circumstances, buy a bed in which Queen Elizabeth I slept.

Mr. Ioan L. Evans

As so many Members opposite wish to participate in the debates on the Finance Bill, will my right hon. Friend consider making provision for the House to meet on Wednesday mornings? Would it not be better for hon. Members opposite to repeat themselves on Wednesday mornings rather than throughout the night?

Mr. Bowden

Progress with the further stages of the Finance Bill is very much in my mind at the moment, and nothing is being ruled out.