HC Deb 02 August 1966 vol 733 cc259-60
The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Herbert Bowden)

With permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a short business statement.

At the request of the Opposition, the business for tomorrow, Wednesday, is being changed.

Their Motion on the procurement and sale of arms and aircraft has been withdrawn in favour of a further Motion to commit the Prices and Incomes Bill to a Committee of the whole House.

Mr. Heath

Will the Leader of the House explain to his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister that we have asked for this change to be made in order to make known the views of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen, expressed yesterday from both sides of the House, that the Government's introduction of Amendments containing what we believe to be a new principle to the Bill ought to be taken on the Floor of the House, to give hon. Members an opportunity of discussing it? As the Government failed to provide time for such a discussion, is it not an unworthy slur of the Prime Minister on the Opposition that we were changing the subject so as to avoid a debate? I say to the Leader of the House that if he will provide time himself for discussion of the Motion that he has just announced, we will gladly carry on tomorrow's debate on the procurement and sale of arms and aircraft.

Mr. Bowden

It is not for me to say what is in order and what is not in a debate on the Motion tomorrow. I would hope, with the right hon. Gentleman, that it would be in order to discuss the principle of the new additional Clauses to the Prices and Incomes Bill.

I am quite sure that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will be aware of the observations made by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, but I am equally sure that, if time were available next week, we would endeavour to supply sufficient time for their original Motion. If not, no doubt they will use some of the time which will be available to them after the Recess.

Mr. Thorpe

In view of the fact that the Leader of the House has said that the new Amendments to the Bill are sufficiently material to facilitate a debate tomorrow—[HON. MEMBERS: "He has not."] I beg your pardon, Mr. Speaker. I should have said that this matter is to be debated tomorrow by reason of the Opposition's request. Having thereby amended what I wanted to say, may I ask him whether he has given any instructions to Standing Committee B, in view of the imminence of this debate, to take any action pending its outcome, or has he merely ignored it?

Mr. Bowden

No, Sir. Standing Committeee B has taken its own decisions about its hours of sitting. It sat this morning and, so far as I am aware, it is continuing to sit this afternoon.

Mr. Sandys

Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that, as Leader of the House, he has, in accordance with tradition, a duty to the whole House of Commons? He has treated the House in a very shabby way in this matter.

Mr. Bowden

The right hon. Gentleman has no need to remind me of my duties to the House. I should have thought that the House would now have been generally pleased that the Opposition have made this time available for the debate tomorrow. It ought to be clearly understood that the point of order under Standing Order No. 9 which was raised yesterday by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal Party questioned whether or not it was in order for the additions to be made to the Bill in Committee. It is quite in order, or they would not have been selected.

Several Hon. Membersrose——

Mr. Speaker

Order. We are debating this, I think, tomorrow.