HC Deb 27 January 1966 vol 723 cc400-6
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, 31ST JANUARY—Second Reading of the Land Commission Bill.

TUESDAY, 1ST FEBRUARY—Debate on a Motion to take note of the Report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Aircraft Industry (Command No. 2853).

Motion on the Salmon and Migratory Trout (Prohibition of Drift-Net Fishing) (Extension) Order.

WEDNESDAY, 2ND FEBRUARY—Supply [7th Allotted Day]: Report stage of the Winter Supplementaries which, if the House agrees, will be taken formally to allow debate on an Opposition Motion on Crime.

THURSDAY, 3RD FEBRUARY—Remaining stages of the Air Corporations Bill.

Second Reading of the National Health Service Bill.

FRIDAY, 4TH FEBRUARY—Private Members' Motions.

MONDAY, 7TH FEBRUARY—The proposed business will be: Second Reading of the National Insurance Bill.

Motion on the Commonwealth Teachers (Extension of Financial Authority) Order.

Mr. Heath

As the Government propose on Tuesday to debate the Plowden Committee Report on a "take note" Motion, can the right hon. Gentleman confirm that the Government do not intend to announce decisions or any firm conclusions to the House, but that this is to be an exploratory debate? Will he note that, later, at a fairly early date, we shall wish to have another general debate on the aircraft industry, to expose the Government's failure in this field?

Mr. Bowden

I can confirm that the Motion on Tuesday is on a Motion to "take note". It will be appreciated that some parts of the Plowden Report are acceptable to both sides of the House, while others may not be. Under these circumstances, the Government feel that before decisions are taken, and without commitment, they should take this on a Motion to "take note".

Mr. Mendelson

As the second day of the last foreign affairs debate inevitably developed into a Rhodesia debate, and the House therefore lost 50 per cent. of the time allocated to foreign affairs, and a critical situation is being reached in the Vietnam war and new important decisions are pending, will my right hon. Friend consider allocating a day for a debate on the Vietnam war so that the opinion of both sides of the House might be brought to bear on this dangerous situation before new and serious decisions are taken by our major ally, the United States, with whom we are associated?

Mr. Bowden

I understand and appreciate that the second day of the foreign affairs debate was very largely taken up with the happenings in Rhodesia, but, in view of the pressure at present on Government time—the House will be aware that we have to spend a considerable time on defence shortly—I cannot promise a further foreign affairs debate.

Mr. William Clark

Does the right hon. Gentleman recollect that on 27th July last year the Government deferred certain capital expenditure? As that six-month period expires today, can the House have a statement next week on whether the Government intend to continue with this deferment, or to let the capital expenditure go forward?

Mr. Bowden

The hon. Gentleman might care to address that question to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Mr. Frank Allaun

In view of its importance to so many of our constituents, will there be an opportunity for the House to discuss how the Rent Act is operating?

Mr. Bowden

No, Sir, I cannot promise that in the near future, but there are opportunities for hon. Members to raise these things on Adjournment Motions and in other debates.

Mr. Russell Johnston

May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman's attention has been drawn to Motion No. 74?—

[That this House views with the gravest concern the salary proposals for the teaching profession in Scotland announced by the Secretary of State which have caused deep and justified resentment and calls upon the Government urgently to review its ill-considered rejection of the recommendations of the Scottish Joint Council.]

In view of the wide concern about recent salary announcements for teachers in Scotland—which is obviously shared by some of his hon. Friends, as he will see in Motion No. 81—

[That this House views with grave concern the continuing shortage of qualified schoolteachers in Scotland, deplores the cut made by the Secretary of State for Scotland in the recommendation of the Scottish Joint Council on Teachers Salaries, and calls upon Her Majesty's Government to accept in full the recommendation of the said Joint Council.]

will he find time for a debate on this subject in the near future?

Mr. Bowden

I have seen both those Motions, but I cannot promise time to debate them. The proposed 13 per cent. increase is in line with the increase for English and Welsh teachers, and the Government have referred the whole question to the Prices and Incomes Board to ascertain whether the Board regards that as fair in relation to the other teachers' award.

Mr. John Harvey

May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman has seen Motion No. 80, about the deterioration in London's bus services?

[That this House deplores the severe inconvenience and frustration caused by the latest London Transport reduction in bus services and, with a view to securing better service for the public, urges an immediate Government inquiry into the structure, management and operation of the undertaking, as well as a full examination of the conditions of service and wage structure of those employed in running London buses.]

Will the right hon. Gentleman find time to debate the interests of the consumer in this matter, that is to say, the travelling public?

Mr. Bowden

No, Sir. Once again I cannot promise time for a debate. We have had three investigations in two years. Another investigation might not do any harm, but it might not do any good, either.

Mr. Lipton

Will my right hon. Friend let us have further and better particulars of the crime which the Opposition want the House to discuss next week? What sort of crime is it?

Mr. Bowden

I cannot help my hon. Friend. I am awaiting the Opposition's Motion.

Mr. Grant-Ferris

May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman's attention has been called to the Report which was published by the Inland Waterways Board shortly before we rose? As this provides a possibility for settling this ancient problem once and for all, and very cheaply, will he consider giving time for a debate in the near future—perhaps not a full day's debate, but at any rate half a day?

Mr. Bowden

I have seen and read this interesting Report. I think that there will be advantage in debating it, and I shall try to arrange a half-day debate; but not perhaps within the next week or so.

Mr. Rose

In view of the widespread interest in the White Papers on The Child, The Family and The Young Offender, and also on The Adult Offender, would not it be possible to have a debate on these two matters together in the near future?

Mr. Bowden

There may be some advantage in debating them, but I cannot promise this for the near future.

Mr. Stodart

Has the right hon. Gentleman read the plan which the Government published yesterday for the Scottish economy for the next five years? As it is over-priced at 12s. 6d., will the right hon. Gentleman give us time to discuss this matter?

Mr. Bowden

Two days in each Session are provided to discuss Scottish affairs. The Opposition could, if they chose, discuss the plan on that occasion.

Mr. Hector Hughes

Will my right hon. Friend find time to discuss the new economic plan for Scotland for the purpose of drawing attention to the invidious way in which Aberdeen has been penalised in favour of the rest of Scotland?

Mr. Bowden

I note my hon. and learned Friend's reference to Aberdeen, but my answer is the same as to the previous hon. Member.

Mr. Kilfedder

Can the Leader of the House confirm that no decision will be taken about Short Brothers before the debate on the aircraft industry? Will he try to arrange a supplementary debate on Short Brothers, in view of the widespread anxiety that is felt about this matter in Ulster?

Mr. Bowden

This would be in order in the debate next week. We had better see how we get on then.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

In view of the concern about the increased cost of living among farmers whose rent has been increased by £200—which might mean 1½d. a gallon on milk—will my right hon. Friend find time to introduce legislation to prevent this increase in the cost of milk?

Mr. Bowden

No, Sir—not in the immediate future.

Mr. John Wells

In view of the very long statement made by the Minister of Agriculture on the day we returned after the Recess, in answer to Written Questions, is it not unfortunate that an Oral Question on the same subject was not answered at length yesterday, because of the great importance of this matter to horticulture? Will the Leader of the House look at columns 25, 26 and 27 in the OFFICIAL REPORT of 25th January, and consider giving the House at least a half day's debate on horticulture, with particular reference to the apple and pear markets?

Mr. Bowden

No, Sir. I cannot promise a debate.

Dame Irene Ward

In view of the fact that the Electricity Council has now issued its report on the increase in electricity prices to certain consumers on the North-East Coast, can we have a debate on the whole subject of electricity prices as they relate to the increase in the cost of living?

Mr. Bowden

The hon. Lady will be aware that there are three days in each Session of Parliament when reports from the nationalised industries may be debated. The choice of a particular subject is a matter for the Opposition.

Mr. McMaster

With respect to next Thursday's business, in view of the statements made by the Minister of Aviation, and published in the Press, and particularly his Answer to my Question No. 48 yesterday—and also because it will affect my attitude to the debate and the attitude of my Ulster Unionist colleagues —will the right hon. Gentleman say definitely whether a statement is to be made on Tuesday, in the debate on the aircraft industry, on the future of Short Brothers and Harland?

Mr. Bowden

I cannot say definitely, but I will consult my right hon. Friend on the matter.

Captain W. Elliot

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider setting aside time for a debate on Commonwealth affairs? Does not he agree that over the past year there has been a disastrous decline in Commonwealth relations and cohesion in connection with many questions? Will he consider setting aside time for a debate on this matter?

Mr. Bowden

I cannot promise time. There will be opportunities to debate many subjects on two days in the week after next, when we have to debate the Consolidated Fund Bill. On this occasion the terms of the Consolidated Fund Bill are narrow, and one related to winter Supplementary Estimates, and if the Opposition wish to do so they can choose a day for a debate on Commonwealth affairs.

Mr. Rankin

In view of the many demands from the Opposition side for debates on a wide variety of subjects, will my right hon. Friend consider meeting on Saturdays?

Mr. Bowden

No, Sir. That would need considerable consideration, and I am not prepared to do that at the moment.

Sir Ian Orr-Ewing

Will the right hon. Gentleman take note of the fact that there is widespread anxiety in the London area as a result of the radical cuts and even elimination of many bus services, the effects of which press hardly on school children and others who are utterly dependent on these services? If we cannot have an early debate on this issue, will the right hon. Gentleman arrange for either the Minister of Transport or, perhaps, the Minister of Labour, to make a statement either tomorrow or on Monday, as this matter affects millions of people in London?

Mr. Bowden

I appreciate the seriousness of the position and will consult my right hon. Friends on the matter.

Mr. Gurden

Will the right hon. Gentleman provide time for a debate on the serious gas shortage in the West Midlands and on the breakdown there, in view of the fact that it is reported that there have been several resignations of senior officers? If the right hon. Gentleman cannot provide time for a debate, will he tell us whether the Minister of Power is about to resign?

Mr. Bowden

I cannot promise time for a debate on the situation in the gas industry in the West Midlands. If the hon. Member wished to do so he could take the normal opportunities to raise this matter. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Power has no intention of resigning. His record in this field is excellent.

Mr. Ian Lloyd

As in recent months there have been a number of most important reports on the docks industry, can the Leader of the House give an assurance that the Government are considering a debate on this most important subject?

Mr. Bowden

Not at the moment.