HC Deb 18 November 1965 vol 720 cc1339-46
Mr. Heath

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, 22ND NOVEMBER—Second Reading of the Air Corporations Bill, and the Motion on the Social Science Research Council Order, 1965.

TUESDAY, 23RD NOVEMBER—Remaining stages of the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill.

WEDNESDAY, 24TH NOVEMBER— Motions relating to Southern Rhodesia.

THURSDAY, 25TH NOVEMBER—Second Reading of the Coal Industry Bill.

FRIDAY, 26TH NOVEMBER—Second Reading of the Rural Water Supplies and Sewerage Bill, and the remaining stages of the Teachers' Superannuation Bill.

MONDAY, 29TH NOVEMBER—The business proposed is the Motion on the Temporary Charges on Imports (Continuation) Order, and the remaining stages of the Housing (Slum Clearance Compensation) Bill.

Mr. Heath

With regard to Wednesday's business on Southern Rhodesia Orders in Council, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is aware that we think it might be for the convenience of the House if the Constitution Order were to be taken first, the Orders on Commonwealth Preference and the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement taken second, and the remaining four Orders on Passports, Nationality, Commonwealth Immigration and Fugitive Offenders taken together as a separate group after that? We hope that that will be for the convenience of the Government and of the House.

Secondly, may I remind him of our request last week that we should have the delayed debate on foreign affairs at the earliest opportunity?

Mr. Bowden

Yes, Sir. As I promised last week, we shall have a debate on foreign affairs as early as possible.

Subject to Mr. Speaker's approval, I think that the suggested grouping of the Orders would be for the general convenience of the House. We might talk about this through the usual channels, but I think this would be of advantage.

Mr. William Hamilton

With regard to Tuesday's business on the remaining stages of the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether we shall have an opportunity on that occasion to debate in full the Commonwealth Immigration White Paper? I ask that because my right hon. Friend will recollect that, in reply to a Question on 4th November, the Prime Minister said that the House would most likely be debating this matter in the near future. If we cannot debate it when we are discussing the remaining stages of that Bill, will my right hon. Friend give an undertaking that we shall be able to debate it on another and separate occasion?

Mr. Bowden

Under the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill we are continuing Part I of the Commonwealth Immigration Act, 1962, and the First Schedule. This is pretty wide. It is not for me to say how the Chair will rule, but I think it will be wide enough for a general debate.

Sir A. V. Harvey

In view of the uncertainty of those employed in the aircraft industry, can the right hon. Gentleman say when the Plowden Report will be published and will be available?

Mr. Bowden

I cannot be definite about it. I shall speak to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Aviation, but I know that he is trying to get it as soon as possible.

Mr. Atkinson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that on Wednesday of this week a critical Motion was tabled by the Opposition on the question of technology, when 11 hon. Members were called in the debate but only 10½ referred to technology? Can we assume that my right hon. Friend will not take this as meaning that this House is not desirous of debating technology? Hon. Members on this side of the House and the Minister of Technology are very anxious to have a debate on this subject. Can my right hon. Friend indicate when this will take place?

Mr. Bowden

The debate was on an Amendment to the Address in reply to the Gracious Speech. Although we were debating an Amendment speeches of a general character were in order, and in any case the Amendment dealt with both transport and technology. It is certainly true that the greater part of the time was taken up with transport. I know that my right hon. Friend the Minister for Technology would have been delighted to reply to a technology debate.

Mr. Iremonger

In view of the importance of maintaining the facilities for giving constituents access to their Members, and in view of the proposed mass lobbying next Thursday by the National Council for Peace in Vietnam—and no doubt for war in Africa at the same time—will the right hon. Gentleman find time to debate my Motion on the subject?

[That this House recognises the importance of arrangements made to give constituents in urgent need of the assistance of their Members access to them through the Central Lobby; deplores the abuse of these arrangements and the frustration of their purpose by groups organised as mass lobbies for propaganda purposes; and approves the wisdom of hon. Members who arrange to meet constituents for discussions on general matters of national importance at times when the Central Lobby is not subject to this abuse.]

Mr. Bowden

I have seen the hon. Member's Motion on the Order Paper. It is similar to a Motion which appeared on the Order Paper early in July. There is a problem when there is a great deal of mass lobbying. I have spoken to the Serjeant at Arms about it, and he will do his best to see that access by indivi- dual constituents coming here is maintained. But there is also a right to mass lobbying. It is a fine balance, but the Serjeant at Arms will do his best.

Mr. Frank Allaun

Can my right hon. Friend say whether the Housing Minister will be making his statement on council housing finance?

Mr. Bowden

Not without notice, but I shall certainly speak to my right hon. Friend about it.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Will the right hon. Gentleman take the first opportunity of studying, with a view to appropriate action, the Motion which is tabled in my name and the names of my right hon. and hon. Friends concerning the conduct of the Prime Minister?

Mr. Bowden

I have not yet seen the Motion.

Sir D. Walker-Smith

As the prohibition on tobacco imports from Rhodesia does not come within the scope of Wednesday's business in the House and does not attract any automatic Parliamentary discussion or scrutiny by reason of the fact that it is an administrative exercise of the Board of Trade's import licensing powers, will the Leader of the House consider providing a day's debate, if possible on the Motion for the Adjournment of the House?

Mr. Bowden

No, Sir. I cannot promise to find time immediately. A similar situation arose in another place. It is true that no debate arises on this matter unless some action is taken. The suggestion in another place was that a Motion might be put down. If the Official Opposition have that in mind, we can probably arrange a Supply Day fairly quickly between now and Christmas.

Mr. Warbey

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the promised debate on foreign affairs is particularly urgent now in the light of the new revelations in the United States about who was really to blame for the breakdown in the peace negotiations over Vietnam?

Mr. Bowden

I am aware of the urgency of it. Last week I promised to try to do this as soon as possible before Christmas. It is important at this stage in the Session, immediately after the Queen's Speech, to get on with legislation and to get some work into Committees.

Mr. Dance

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are several Motions on the Order Paper relating to the recent outrageous behaviour of the B.B.C.? In view of the great public indignation in the matter, will he give a positive assurance that he will provide time to debate this all-important subject?

Mr. Bowden

No, Sir. I cannot promise time to debate it at all. Successive Governments have made it clear from time to time that there is no desire to interfere with the programming independence of the B.B.C.

Mrs. Joyce Butler

In view of the number of outstanding points and unanswered questions in the Challoner case, which are of considerable public importance and which should be cleared up in the interests of better relations between the police and the public, will my right hon. Friend try to find time for a debate on the issues arising from the Challoner affair as soon as possible?

Mr. Bowden

I am sorry but I cannot promise time. But it would be a suitable matter for a half-hour Adjournment, or perhaps one of the half-day Adjournments.

Mr. Buck

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether we can expect over the next week a statement from the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health concerning the revised hospital plan? Is he aware that it is surprising to many hon. Members that within 12 months the Government can prepare a National Plan but cannot prepare a hospital plan?

Mr. Bowden

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Health will, no doubt, note the hon. Member's words.

Mr. Ogden

May I draw the attention of the Leader of the House to the Fifth Report of the Select Committee on Procedure concerning the voting arrangements for sick Members and ask him to give further consideration to the matter and perhaps indicate whether we can have an opportunity of discussing it?

Mr. Bowden

I have read the Report with interest, but in the first place we must have some discussions through the usual channels.

Mr. William Yates

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman about his intentions concerning the foreign affairs debate? Has he seen two Motions on the Order Paper standing in my name, one concerning the United Nations and the Middle East,

[That this House expresses its concern at the circumstances in which the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs after his goodwill tour of the Middle East should have felt obliged to read out a Foreign Office Zionist brief which he should have known would cause offence to the Arab States, reminds him and Her Majesty's Government that the British people have no desire whatever to have another Suez war as Israel's secret ally and that Great Britain's international role both east and west of Suez is to maintain peace in support of the United Nations and the United Nations peacekeeping missions, and calls upon Her Majesty's Government to support the politicians in Israel who wish to live at peace and reduce tension with their Arab neighbours and not the international Zionist conspirators, who murdered the United Nations mediator Count Bernadotte and who, with wealthy disloyal elements in Great Britain, seek to involve this country in race-hate between Arabs and Jews as an instrument of Zionist aggression in the Middle East.]

and the other concerning gun-running in Arabia,

[That this House condemns without reserve the policies of Her Majesty's Government in Aden and South-West Arabia of gun-running to Arabia and of defying the United Nations over Aden, which has resulted in the deaths of the Speaker of the Federal Parliament and of British soldiers and civilians.]

Will he consider arranging for a two-day debate on international affairs, because of Her Majesty's Government's protection of slavery in Muscat and the illegal occupation of the Oman by British Forces?

Mr. Bowden

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that Her Majesty's Government have no part in gun-running in Southern Arabia or anywhere else. If he wishes, this matter could be raised when we reach the foreign affairs debate. I want to deal with the last part of his question concerning gun-running. If he suggests that as a result of Her Majesty's Government's action the Speaker of the Federation was murdered, I can only say that my understanding of the position, from information that I have been given, is that the so-called National Liberal Front was responsible.

Mr. Yates


Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member has no fewer and no more rights than any other hon. Member.

Mr. Yates

On a point of order. I do not think that the Leader of the House heard what I said. I asked for a two-day debate.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member has the right to put a question and the Leader of the House has the right to answer in whatever way he chooses.

Mr. Yates

The Leader of the House clearly did not hear the question I put to him. I asked whether he should have a one-day debate or a two-day debate on foreign affairs—

Mr. Speaker

Order. This is a matter of argument. I want to emphasise to the hon. Member that he is one of 630 Members seeking each a fair share of question time.

Mr. Kershaw

With further reference to the foreign affairs debate, is it the Government's intention that it should be confined to foreign affairs, or will defence questions also be relevant? If so, would it not be better to have a separate day for defence questions in view of the number of questions arising in that sphere at the present time?

Mr. Bowden

The intention at the moment is that it should be a foreign affairs debate. Immediately after Christmas we shall be having a defence debate, and there may be one or two Bills before Christmas on which this question could easily arise.

Sir Ian Orr-Ewing

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Defence Review is likely to be published before the end of this year? We shall wish to see it before we debate it in the early part of next year.

Mr. Bowden

I cannot give a date, but it will be published as soon as possible.

Mr. Philip Noel-Baker

In view of the many vitally important crises in the world at present, may I support the proposal that there should be a two-day debate on foreign affairs and ask that it should be divided, with some subjects being taken on one day and some on the other?

Mr. Bowden

If that is for the convenience of the House, we might do it. It is usual with a two-day foreign affairs debate to divide the time as between one day for the Government and one day for the Opposition, but we might have talks through the usual channels about dividing the debate into subjects.

Mr. Onslow

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman when the House will have an opportunity to debate the White Paper on the work of the Ministry of Overseas Development, which was published in August?

Mr. Bowden

I cannot say at the moment.

Mr. Ioan L. Evans

Does my right hon. Friend realise that there is support on this side of the House for a debate on defence, not only because the Government are having a Defence Review, but because of the interesting proposal made by the Opposition spokesman on defence, the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell)?

Mr. Bowden

I do not know that there is a great deal of interest in the subject, but I hope that there will be opportunities before Christmas. It may not arise on the Motion for the Adjournment or on the Defence Review; it may arise as a result of a Bill.