HC Deb 04 August 1966 vol 733 cc687-94
Mr. Heath

May I ask the Leader of the House to state the business of the House for next week?

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Herbert Bowden

Yes, Sir, The business for next week will be as follows:

MONDAY, 8TH AUGUST—Committee and remaining stages of the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill.

There will be a debate on Crime, until about eight o'clock, to be followed by subjects which hon. Members may wish to raise.

TUESDAY, 9TH AUGUST—It is hoped that it will be possible to proceed with the remaining stages of the Prices and Incomes Bill, which may be concluded on Wednesday, 10th August.

THURSDAY, 11TH AUGUST—Second Reading of the Industrial Reorganisation Corporation Bill.

Lords Amendments to the Industrial Development Bill.

Motion on the Valuation (Scottish Gas Board) (Scotland) Order.

I shall make a further business statement as soon as possible about such further sittings as may be necessary.

Mr. Heath

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that it is somewhat extraordinary for him not to be able to state the business even for a whole week? Is this not yet a further mark of the confusion and chaos which exists over the handling of business? Will he endeavour to make a further statement, as soon as possible next week, for the convenience of right hon. and hon. Members?

Mr. Bowden

The House will appreciate that this was purely a precautionary statement. If I could help the House, I would say that, subject to progress, the House will rise on Friday, 12th August, until Tuesday, 18th October.

Mr. Shinwell

May I ask my right hon. Friend two questions about business? First, is it the intention of the Government to make a statement about the appointment of a shipbuilding industry board before we rise for the Summer Recess?

Secondly, has my right hon. Friend's attention been drawn to the Motion standing on the Order Paper in the names of several of my hon. and right hon. Friends and myself, referring to a statement made in the Daily Express

[That this House, noting that the United States Embassy in London issued a statement to the effect that a report in the Daily Express purporting to emanate from that Embassy was utterly and completely without foundation, deplores the action of this newspaper in publishing a false and irresponsible report, the falsity of which could easily have been established by a telephone call to the United States Embassy; further deplores the conduct of the Daily Express in its later edition of Friday 29th July, and in its edition of Saturday 30th July, in persisting in the false report after it was aware of its falsity; and is convinced that such conduct betrays the normally high standard of professional journalism in this country.]—

which was subsequently proved to be false and which was repeated again by that newspaper?

Will my right hon. Friend provide an opportunity for a debate before the Recess, and, if not, will he refer the matter to the Press Council?

Mr. Bowden

To answer my right hon. Friend's first question, the President of the Board of Trade will be making a statement next week. To answer his second question, I have seen the Motion to which he referred and have read the account in the Daily Express.

The whole House will agree that this sort of journalism—which was, of course, corrected by a statement from the American Embassy—is serious and could be dangerous. It is open to any member of the public to report any matter, if it is thought right to do so, to the Press Council.

Mr. Gwynfor Evans

Has the right hon. Gentleman's notice been drawn to Motion No. 199 concerning the official status of the Welsh language?

[That, in view of the acceptance by the Government of the principle of the equal validity in Wales of the Welsh and English languages, and of the steps which the Government is taking to give official recognition to the Welsh language in ways which include the preparation of official forms in the national language of Wales, this House deplores the sentences of imprisonment imposed by the magistrates' courts in Wales on citizens who had refused to pay their car licences until Welsh forms were provided.]

In view of the deep and widespread feeling that has been aroused in Wales by sentences on young people, who have made a stand for what is a natural and elementary right, would the Leader of the House draw the attention of the Attorney-General to this situation?

Mr. Bowden

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for quoting the number of the Motion, which is of considerable help when there are about 200 such Motions on the Order Paper. The Report to which he referred was debated in the Welsh Grand Committee last December and the necessary administrative action is being taken about these forms. I will communicate with my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General about the hon. Gentleman's other point.

Mr. Michael Foot

While I appreciate that the Leader of the House has stated only tentatively the time which is to be allotted next week for further debate on the Prices and Incomes Bill, may I ask whether he will take into account that it is not yet possible for hon. Members in any part of the House to determine what Amendments they may wish to put down on Report? Therefore, will he reserve the question whether further time should be allocated in order to see how many Amendments are put down, and what is the result of the Committee stage? Further, will he give a full undertaking that there will be no abbreviation of any discussion that the House might wish to have on this subject?

Mr. Bowden

It is precisely because we have not yet had the Committee's report on the Bill, or seen the Amendments tabled for the Report stage, or the selection of those Amendments, that I said that it was hoped that it would be possible.

Dame Irene Ward

In view of the success of all sections of the shipbuilding and shipping industries in resolving some of their problems, would it not be a good idea to have a debate on success instead of always having to debate failures?

Mr. Bowden

The demarcation agreement is a marked success within the last week or 10 days. I cannot promise a date before the Summer Recess, but, as I have said, my right hon. Friend is to make a statement.

Mrs. Renée Short

Can my right hon. Friend tell the House how soon after the Summer Recess we can expect the legislation promised by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health in connection with the prescribing of drugs by general practitioners?

Mr. Bowden

I cannot at this moment give the actual date of the introduction of the Bill, but it is being prepared and will be introduced without any unnecessary delay.

Mr. R. Carr

Is the Leader of the House aware that while we have now had a statement from the Minister of Aviation on one of the important issues I raised last week, we still await a statement about the future ownership structure of the aviation industry? Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether we shall have a statement about this before the Summer Recess? If not, can he assure us that a statement on such an important and possibly controversial matter will be made in the first place in the House of Commons?

Mr. Bowden

I cannot add very much to what I said last week. The right hon. Gentleman has correctly said that the first part of the statement has been made, and I will discuss the second part with my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Iain Macleod

Is the Leader of the House aware that he did not answer the third and most important part of the question put by the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot): will he give an undertaking that there will be no restriction on debate when we come to the Report stage and Third Reading of the Prices and Incomes Bill?

Mr. Bowden

I will give an undertaking that when we have seen the Amendments on Report, and their selection, adequate time will be provided; and that the amount of time will, in the usual way, be discussed through the usual channels.

Mr. George Jeger

Does my right hon. Friend recall that last week we were promised a statement before the Summer Recess on the talks between ourselves and Spain over Gibraltar? In view of the concern felt in Gibraltar about the rumours of offers and concessions which have been made and rejected, when will we have that statement?

Mr. Bowden

I am aware of the promise made, and I am communicating with my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary to see on which day next week the statement will be made.

Sir D. Glover

After the disastrous vote last night—when even the Prime Minister apeared to have deliberately abstained—and as the Leader of the House has been unable to answer the question of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot), will he, even at this late stage, bring back the Committee stage of the Prices and Incomes Bill to the Floor of the House?

Mr. Bowden

No, Sir. The House has now taken a decision on two Motions on this subject moved from the other side of the Chamber, and on two occasions has decided that the Bill should be dealt with in Standing Committee.

Mr. Whitaker

In view of the Prime Minister's statement last month that the House was deliberately misled over the Suez operation, and as new evidence has come to light to substantiate that statement, will my right hon. Friend, despite pressure on legislative time, afford time to right hon. Members opposite to make personal statements?

Mr. Bowden

The question of a personal statement is not a matter for me. If any hon. Member from either side wishes to make a personal statement, time is usually accorded to him by Mr. Speaker.

On the general question of a debate on the Suez situation, although this incident took place rather a long time ago it is still of great interest, and it might be possible to find a little time after the Summer Recess.

Mr. Godber

In view of the statement made last week by the Leader of the House that the Government could not find time before the Summer Recess to discuss the Brambell Report, can he give the House an assurance that the Minister of Agriculture will state the Government's intention in this respect before we rise for the Summer Recess?

Mr. Bowden

Yes, Sir. It is the intention of my right hon. Friend to do so.

Mr. E. Rowlands

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is grave disappointment that the Bill on leasehold reform has not yet been introduced? Will he give an assurance that it will be introduced before Christmas?

Mr. Bowden

I cannot promise a Second Reading before Christmas. If the Bill is ready, we will certainly have it, but let us get the Land Commission Bill on the Floor of the House and then in another place, before we start on leasehold reform.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

For the convenience of hon. Members, can the Leader of the House say what procedural Motions he proposes to table late tonight for us to take tomorrow morning?

Mr. Bowden

None that I am aware of at the moment.

Mr. Hooley

Has my right hon. Friend seen my Motion No. 180, on Rhodesia, which has attracted considerable attention, though not entire support, on both sides of the House? Will he undertake that the House will have an opportunity to debate this subject before the Summer Recess?

[That this House, noting the imminence of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' conference and the intention of Her Majesty's Government to resume investigatory talks with Rhodesian officials, believes that any solution to the problem of Rhodesia must be acceptable to the majority of Africans in the country and that no action beyond investigatory talks should be taken without recalling the House of Commons, and reaffirms its convictions that sanctions must be intensified until constitutional government is restored and that a period of direct rule will be necessary as a transitional stage between the present illegal régime and democratic elections of a new and representative government.]

Mr. Bowden

I think that we had better await the statement to be made by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on Monday next.

Mr. Kershaw

The right hon. Gentleman will have seen reports that decisions may be taken about the strength of our Army in Germany during the Summer Recess. In view of the importance of this to foreign policy, will he give an undertaking that the House will have an opportunity to debate the matter before the decision is finally made?

Mr. Bowden

We may consider this, but I cannot make any firm promise.

Mr. C. Rowland

Without wishing to press the Leader of the House for a debate on Rhodesia—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"]—may I ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether it would be possible for you to give some latitude next Monday, after the Prime Minister's statement, for questions to the Prime Minister on the subject, so that the main strands of opinion may be articulated before the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' conference?

Mr. Speaker

At the moment, we are having business questions to the Leader of the House.

Mr. McMaster

In view of the importance of shipbuilding to the economy, and the concern felt about the effects on it of the credit squeeze, and as the Geddes Report was published in March but has not yet been debated here, can the Leader of the House arrange for even a short time for a debate?

Mr. Bowden

I cannot promise time before the Summer Recess. There are, of course, the normal opportunities in connection with the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill and during the Adjournment half-hour.

Mr. Roebuck

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the nation as a whole is most anxious to co-operate with the Government in their prices and incomes proposals? Will he therefore undertake to do everything possible to secure the quick passage of this legislation through the House?

Mr. Bowden

I said in yesterday's debate that it is the Government's intention to obtain the Royal Assent to the Bill before we rise for the Summer Recess.

Mr. Ogden

Is my right hon. Friend aware that several hon. Members in Standing Committee B have already cancelled their weekend constituency arrangements so that we may be available in London, if necessary? Will my right hon. Friend also table the necessary Motion so that if we are not able to conclude our proceedings by midnight tomorrow, we may be able to continue on Saturday and Sunday?

Mr. Bowden

I do not think that we should take any firm decision at this moment. There are a number of hours left between now and tomorrow night. We had better await developments.