HC Deb 26 May 1966 vol 729 cc729-33
Mr. Heath

May I ask the Leader of the House whether he will state the business of the House for the week after the Whitsun Recess?

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

The business for the first week after the Whitsun Adjournment will be as follows:

MONDAY, 13TH JUNE—Progress on the Committee stage of the Ministry of Social Security Bill.

TUESDAY, 14TH JUNE—Second Reading of the Local Government Bill.

Remaining stages of the Overseas Aid Bill.

WEDNESDAY, 15TH JUNE, and THURSDAY, 16TH JUNE—Progress on the Committee stage of the Finance Bill.

FRIDAY, 17TH JuNE—Completion of the remaining stages of the Ministry of Social Security Bill.

Mr. Heath

Can the right hon. Gentleman confirm what we understood the Chancellor to say last night, namely, that the Ministry of Labour Bill on the Selective Employment Tax will be published before we start the Committee stage of the Finance Bill on Wednesday, 13th June?

Mr. Bowden

I can confirm that. In fact, the Bill will be in the hands of hon. Members, if they wish, before we begin the Committee stage of the Finance Bill. What has to be borne in mind additionally is that the Selective Employment Tax is Clause 42 of the Finance Bill, so that gives a little more time. It is hardly likely that we shall read the first 41 Clauses the first day.

Sir G. de Freitas

Does my right hon. Friend recall that last week he looked kindly on a request for a debate on the work of the Council of Europe? If such a debate is possible, will he try to arrange that it is held separately from a general foreign affairs debate, otherwise this limited debate will be buried under the immediate problems such as Vietnam, Malaysia and the Middle East?

Mr. Bowden

I think that there is real value in discussing the work of the Coun- cil of Europe. It is usual to have a two-day debate on foreign affairs in the weeks before the Summer Recess, one day being offered by the Opposition and one by the Government. It may be that we can divide that up in some way. I shall look at it.

Mr. MacArthur

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the urgent need for a statement by the Secretary of State for Scotland about teacher's salaries, following the publication this week of the Report of the Prices and Incomes Board on teachers' salaries?

Mr. Bowden

I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will have noted that question.

Mr. Blenkinsop

Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that there will be an early opportunity to debate the Geddes Report on Shipbuilding?

Mr. Bowden

I cannot promise an early opportunity, but I shall see what I can do to arrange a debate before the end of July.

Mr. Brewis

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the great concern in Scotland about teachers' salaries? Will he try to persuade the Secretary of State for Scotland to make a statement before the Recess?

Mr. Bowden

I have said that I will draw this matter to the attention of my right hon. Friend.

Dr. David Owen

Will my right hon. Friend consider having a debate on the hospital building programme which has just been announced? It is a subject of great concern to the nation as a whole. My right hon. Friend said that he would consider it soon after Whitsun.

Mr. Bowden

I appreciate that there is great concern about this, but my right hon. Friend's statement was made only a day or two ago, and I think that we should have time to consider it first.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

Reverting to the question of teachers' salaries in Scotland, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is aware that there is grave concern that unless the Secretary of State makes a statement to the House before the Recess he is merely sheltering behind the Prices and Incomes Board in trying to get a decision on this important matter?

Hon. Members


Mr. Bowden

I have already answered the question twice.

Mrs. Renée Short

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether he is aware that an hon. Member who was successful in the Ballot for Private Members' Bills has decided to introduce a Bill for the reform of the abortion law, which is long overdue and much needed? Will my right hon. Friend undertake to give time for this, as was promised by a Home Office Minister to the House recently?

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether he intends to connive at the slaughter once more of a private Member's Ten Minute Rule Bill by putting it on at a late hour tonight—

Mr. Speaker

Order. This matter is on the Order Paper for today. We must not misuse business questions.

Mr. Bowden

I think that we must see how we get on with private Members' time.

Sir C. Osborne

In view of the very grim and solemn warning given last night by the Chancellor of the Exchequer about the likelihood of mass unemployment resulting from the continued demand for unreasonable increases in wages, and as we shall not be able to debate this matter on the Finance Bill, will the Leader of the House try to find the time to debate this very serious warning?

Mr. Bowden

We have recently had an economic debate, and I am sure that it is not beyond hon. Members to find an opportunity to draw attention to this during the Committee stage of the Finance Bill.

Mr. William Hamilton

Will my right hon. Friend say whether the Government intend to produce a White Paper on South Arbia, and whether any representation has been made by the Opposition for a debate on this matter?

Secondly, will he consider taking the Motion which has been put down for tonight on Ten Minute Rule Bills after the Whitsun Recess so that Members can take part in a full debate on it? ask that because there is a large volume of back-bench opinion against the practice of taking Ten Minute Rule Bills after all other business.

Mr. Bowden

I have had no request other than from my hon. Friend for a debate on Southern Arabia. We might consider this in due course.

The Motion to which my hon. Friend referred is under Standing Order No. 13. I think that we had better wait and see how we get on. I would not take it if it were too late.

Mr. Hastings

In view of the regrettable events in Buganda, and other outbreaks of violence in Commonwealth countries during the last year, will the right hon. Gentleman consider giving time for a full debate after the Whitsun Recess on the present state of the Commonwealth and its relevance to British interests?

Mr. Bowden

There are seven Supply days. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will try to persuade his right hon. Friends on the Front Bench to use one of them for that purpose.

Mr. Palmer

Can my right hon. Friend hold out any hope for a debate soon after the Recess on the changed fuel and power situation brought about by the discovery of natural gas in the North Sea?

Mr. Bowden

A very interesting subject, no doubt, but, here again, I think that we must use the opportunities available to the House of Supply and Adjournment debates.

Mr. Kershaw

Has the right hon. Gentleman noticed recently that the rules of procedure as they have grown up have made it virtually impossible for a backbench Member to obtain an Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9? Has the Leader of the House any plans to refer this matter to a Select Committee, or to consider it during the next part of our proceedings?

Mr. Bowden

The terms of reference of the Select Committee on Procedure are wide enough for the Committee to look at this. I agree that the matter needs looking at.

Mr. Hector Hughes

Will my right hon. Friend find time to deal with the grave public danger which is created by ships being allowed to leave British ports, manned only by officers and without crews, to the prejudice of the seamen in this strike?

Mr. Bowden

I had not noticed that that was happening, but no doubt my hon. and learned Friend will have an opportunity of raising it during today's debate.

Mr. Hugh Fraser

Will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that at the conclusion of the defence talks with the South Arabian Federation a full statement will be made to the House by the Foreign Secretary?

Mr. Bowden

I shall speak to my right hon. Friend about this. I think that this would be desirable.

Mr. Younger

Is the Leader of the House aware that his previous answer about Scottish teachers' pay is entirely unsatisfactory? Will he arrange at least to ask his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to come to the House tomorrow and make a full statement so that we may know the position before the Whitsun Recess?

Mr. Bowden

I have twice said that I shall draw this matter to the attention of my right hon. Friend, and I shall certainly do so.

Sir A. V. Harvey

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' conference is to take place?

Mr. Bowden

No, not without notice.