HC Deb 21 July 1966 vol 732 cc870-9
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 and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Herbert Bowden)

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

MONDAY, 25TH JULY—Second Reading of the Iron and Steel Bill and of the Malawi Republic Bill [Lords].

Motion on the Professions Supplementary to Medicine Order.

TUESDAY, 26TH JULY—Debate on Economic Affairs [1st Day].

Thereafter, Second Reading of the Lesotho Independence Bill [Lords], and of the Botswana Independence Bill [Lords].

Lords Amendments to the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Bill, the Overseas Aid Bill and the Ministry of Social Security Bill.

WEDNESDAY, 27TH JULY—Supply [4th Allotted Day]: Committee. Debate on Economic Affairs [2nd Day].

At the end of this debate the House will be asked to take decisions on the Motion on the Surcharge on Revenue Order and on the Opposition Prayer on the Hire Purchase Order.

THURSDAY, 28TH JULY-Third Reading of the Finance Bill.

At seven o'clock, opposed Private Business.

Remaining stages of the Malawi Republic Bill [Lords], the Lesotho Independence Bill [Lords] and the Botswana Independence Bill [Lords].

FRIDAY, 29TH JULY-Motions on the White Fish and Herring Subsidies (Aggregate Amount of Grants) Order and the (United Kingdom) Scheme, the Police Pensions Regulations, the Double Taxation (Finland) Order, and the Immunities and Privileges Order.

MONDAY, 1ST AUGUST-The proposed business will be: Selective Employment Payments Bill.

Completion of the Committee stage.

I think that I should say a further word about the rising of the House for the Summer Recess. I am now hopeful that it will be possible to propose that the House should adjourn on Tuesday, 9th, or Wednesday, 10th August. The exact date must depend on the progress of business.

Mr. Heath

Will the right hon. Gentleman note that we deplore that he should be providing a day on Monday for the Second Reading of the Iron and Steel Bill and that concerning the debate on economic affairs, on Tuesday and Wednesday, we shall be tabling today a Motion of censure on the Government for their economic incompetence?

Mr. Bowden

I note both those points.

Mr. Lubbock

May I ask the Leader of the House two questions? In connection with the Botswana Independence Bill, may we take it that a full statement will be made about the aid which will be given by Great Britain to Botswana after independence, on which discussions have recently taken place with the Prime Minister?

Secondly, following the right hon. Gentleman's announcement of the likely starting date of the Summer Recess, can he say at this stage when it is likely that we shall reassemble after the Recess, in view of the number of visits to Corn-wealth countries planned by hon. Members for late in the autumn?

Mr. Bowden

I cannot this afternoon state the proposed date of our return after the Recess. I shall try to help the House by making an announcement on Thursday next week. On the other point, I shall consult my right hon. Friend to see what can be said.

Mr. J. Hynd

Can my right hon. Friend tell us when the White Paper on transport is now likely to be introduced and whether there will be a debate on it before the Recess?

Mr. Bowden

I cannot give the actual date for production of the White Paper. I think that I am right in saying that it will be early next week, but there will not be time for a debate before the Recess.

Mr. Braine

Can the Leader of the House say whether, in view of the fact that the Brain Committee on Drug Addiction made recommendations as long ago as last November, and ever since the medical profession has been urging the Minister of Health to set up treatment centres—which does not require legislation, but firm decision—can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Minister of Health will be making a statement on this subject early next week?

Mr. Bowden

I cannot say, but I will draw the attention of my right hon. Friend to that question.

Mr. William Hamilton

Can my right hon. Friend answer two questions? In view of the fact that the Selective Employment Payments Bill may be declared not to be a Money Bill, will he sponsor, support or give Government sanction to the Bill which I introduced to remove the delaying powers of another place? Adding point to that, is it not the case that the Iron and Steel Bill is likely to be fairly controversial and that it is important, therefore, to take steps to cut the powers of the other place?

Mr. Bowden

My hon. Friend will be aware that there was contained in the Queen's Speech a reference to the delaying powers of another place.

Mr. MacArthur

Is the Leader of the House aware that important Amendments dealing with selective employment payments in Scotland are unlikely to be reached today because of the harsh timetable he has imposed on the Bill? Will he now provide some extra time so that these vital questions can be discussed?

Mr. Bowden

No. We debated this at length on Monday. It was a decision of the House that the Bill should be time-tabled. The choice of Amendments to be discussed is very largely in the hands of the Opposition.

Mr. Hooley

Has my right hon. Friend noted Motion No. 135? If so, will he give time to debate the political consequences of the recent decision of the International Court of Justice on South-West Africa?

[That this House, while recording its deep appreciation of Her Majesty's Government's support for the principles of self-61etermination and civil rights as expressed in its policies towards Rhodesia, Bechuanaland, Swaziland and Basutoland, believes that the need to guarantee the genuine independence of states with African majority rule and the possible implications of the forthcoming judgment by the International Court of Justice on South-West Africa necessitates co-ordinated social economic and strategic planning by Her Majesty's Government towards Southern Africa as a whole.]

Mr. Bowden

I cannot promise time. My hon. Friend might take the usual opportunities during the Adjournment debate for the Summer Recess or on the Consolidated Fund Bill.

Sir D. Renton

During the debate on the economic situation will the First Secretary of State be given an opportunity to say why he offered to resign and the Prime Minister an opportunity to say why the offer was not accepted and the First Secretary of State a further opportunity to say why the offer was not persisted in?

Mr. Bowden

It is not for me to say what will be in order in the economic debate, but I am sure that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will agree with me when I suggest to him that he should never even offer to resign.

Mr. Atkinson

Would not the Leader of the House agree that the business he has announced is a great deal of domestic trivia? In view of our experience on the Second Reading of the Prices and Incomes Bill, when back benchers were allowed a mere two and a half hours in which to put their point of view, has not the time arrived when we should revert to the previous practice of devoting two or three days to the Second Readings of all major Bills brought before the House?

Mr. Bowden

This would reduce the amount of legislation.

Sir C. Osborne

As to Monday's debate on the Iron and Steel Bill, will the Leader of the House give an assurance that full details will be given as to how the take-over is to be paid for, since it will cost about £600 million, and the 2½ per cent. Daltons issued in 1947—

Mr. Speaker

We cannot go into the merits of the debate.

Sir C. Osborne

No. I am asking for an assurance as to how the finance is to be raised.

Mr. Speaker

This is a point which I believe will arise on Monday.

Sir F. Bennett

Further to the question asked by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Huntingdonshire (Sir D. Renton), and without going into personalities, can we be told by the Leader of the House whether the expected statement on the future of the Department of Economic Affairs is to be made separately next week or during the course of the economic debate?

Mr. Bowden

It would be quite in order to raise this during the economic debate.

Mr. Hector Hughes

As the Iron and Steel Bill is likely to be highly controversial, will the Leader of the House introduce a timetable to prevent the Opposition from wasting time, as they did last week on other Bills?

Mr. Bowden

Perhaps we ought to make a little progress with the Bill and then decide what we should do later.

Mr. Hooson

This may be an appropriate day to ask when the annual debate on Welsh Affairs is likely to take place.

Mr. Bowden

During the current Session, probably a little later.

Mr. George Jeger

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Veterinary Surgeons Bill [Lords] went through the procedure yesterday of receiving its Second Reading in the new Second Reading Committee? Would my right hon. Friend say when the Bill will be brought before the House for its further stages?

Mr. Bowden

I cannot say at this stage, but it will come before the House. I am glad to know that the Second Reading procedure is working so well.

Mr. Biffen

Will the White Paper promised to us during the course of the Prime Minister's statement yesterday be available to the House before the debate on economic affairs next week?

Mr. Bowden

I cannot make a firm promise, but I will certainly look at this question.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Has the attention of the Leader of the House been drawn to Motion No. 148, entitled "Needless National Expenditure on the Polaris Programme"?

[That this House, while welcoming all reasonable steps that Her Majesty's Government is taking to deal with the financial crisis and to restore national solvency, regrets that no proposals were made by the Prime Minister to end the heavy and needless expenditure on the Polaris submarine programme and for abandoning of the Polaris base at Faslane.]

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, owing to the urgency of the Iron and Steel Bill, we are not asking for a day to discuss the Motion next week, but will he keep it high on the list of priorities when the next instalment in cuts in national expenditure comes along?

Mr. Bowden

Without commenting on the second part of my hon. Friend's question, it would be quite in order to raise during the economic debate what he referred to in the first part of his question.

Mr. Stratton Mills

Will the Leader of the House confirm that the Bill to deal with pirate radio will be published before the Summer Recess and, further, that the White Paper on the future of broadcasting is not to be published till after the Summer Recess?

Mr. Bowden

The Bill will be published before the Summer Recess. There will be no time to make further progress on it. I still cannot give a firm answer about when the White Paper will be published.

Mr. Monro

Does the Leader of the House realise that this reply to the question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur) was not good enough? Will he give more time to Scotland?

Mr. Gwilym Roberts

In view of the various claims for legislation, would not the Leader of the House agree with me that it is now high time for the Government to introduce, unilaterally, reform in the procedure of the House so as to speed up legislation by cutting down the time allotted to speeches and, therefore, being able to get more debates in?

Mr. Bowden

In reply to the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. Monro), the Selective Employment Payments Bill is subject to a timetable. The timetable Motion was discussed on Monday of last week. The Scottish aspect of it comes within the timetable.

In reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Bedfordshire, South (Mr. Gwilym Roberts), reform in our procedure is very largely a matter for the House. I wish that a method could be devised of restricting the length of speeches. Then we might make more progress.

Sir A. V. Harvey

Will a day be allotted for a debate on civil aviation before we rise, because it has been suggested that tens of millions of pounds may be spent in North America on buying civil aircraft which could be made in this country?

Mr. Bowden

There will be no debate in civil aviation in Government time before the Summer Recess, but the hon. Gentleman might take the opportunity of raising this subject on the Adjournment or on the Consolidated Fund Bill.

Mr. G. Campbell

Will the Leader of the House reconsider his reply on the important question of the adverse effects of the Selective Employment Tax on Scotland, because the fears which I expressed last week before the timetable Motion was formulated have been realised?

Mr. Bowden

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would consult his Front Bench and arrange to divide the time between them.

Mr. Edward M. Taylor

Is the Leader of the House aware of the very real confusion which has arisen in Scotland as a result of the Prime Minister's reference yesterday to the 6 per cent. electricity price increase to come into effect on Monday? Will he arrange for the Secretary of State or for the Minister of Power to make a statement, or answer a Question on Monday, saying whether this 6 per cent. increase will come into effect?

Mr. Bowden

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would ask his question during the economic debate on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Hon. Members

It will be too late then.

Mr. Evelyn King

Has the Leader of the House noted Motion No. 143, in which a number of hon. Members draw attention to the imprisonment of a distinguished British journalist in Africa on charges which many of us think to be bogus and which offend equally against the liberty of the individual and the freedom of the Press?

[That his House, nurtured in the tradition of a free Press, notes that the Government of Sierra Leone, which is in receipt of economic aid from the British Government, has imprisoned Mr. David.Loshak, of the Daily Telegraph, who in the course of his duties reported the fact that the Sierra Leone Government now has £33 million of short-term debts and was in his view in economic difficulty; recalls that over the last 18 months 10 British newspaper correspondents representing a wide variety of political opinion have been expelled from Commonwealth countries; resents any attempts which may be made to censor dispatches intended for British newspapers, and calls upon Her Majesty's Government in Great Britain to take strong action to secure the release of any British subject who may be wrongfully detained in an African prison.]

Would the Leader of the House find time for a debate on the Motion? In considering this request, will he bear in mind that the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations may well wish to explain what action he has taken and why he has so far expressed no sympathy for Mr. Loshak?

Mr. Bowden

It is not possible for me to add to the statement made by my right hon. Friend in reply to a Private Notice Question.

Mr. Kershaw

Is there likely to be time next week for a statement on the doctrine of Ministerial responsibility, since the right hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Cousins) was for a long time, and the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. George Brown) is still, in a Cabinet with whose policy they both entirely disagree?

Hon. Members


Mr. Mawby

Has the right hon. Gentleman's attention been drawn to Motion No. 152?

[That this House congratulates the right hon. Member for Belper on his very wise decision in offering his resignation from the Government.]

In view of the bewilderment throughout the country caused by the blowing hot and cold of the First Secretary of State, can the right hon. Gentleman provide an early day to debate the Motion?

Mr. Bowden

Nothing arises from that question for me on the subject of business.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

Ts the Leader of the House aware that his treatment of Scottish affairs is utterly deplorable? Is he further aware that, in the debates on the Selective Employment Payments Bill, Scottish Members are virtually gaged. with no opportunity to explain on behalf of their constituents the severe effects of the tax in Scotland?

Mr. Awdry

In view of the Prime Minister's appeal yesterday for national support for his measures and the obvious need for that national support, will the right hon. Gentleman think again about having the Second Reading of the Iron and Steel Bill next week, in view of its controversial nature?

Mr. Bowden

No Sir. The date of Second Reading has been annnounced by me on three occasions. It is on Monday of next week.

Mr. Onslow

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Minister of Aviation is likely to make, before the House rises, any of the number of important statements due from him on various projects?

Mr. Bowden

If the hon. Gentleman will specify the particular project he has in mind, I will consult my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Ridley

Will a statement be made before the Recess on the result of the First Secretary's soundings as to whether the United Kingdom can negotiate for membership of the Common Market?

Mr. Bowden

I would like to consult on that Question. Perhaps I can write to the hon. Gentleman.