HC Deb 01 November 1966 vol 735 cc243-4
Q5. Mr. Hamling

asked the Prime Minister whether he will now seek to take powers for the establishment of specialist committees to deal with public business.

The Prime Minister

I have, as yet, nothing to add to the Answer I gave on 20th October to a Question by the hon. Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) [Vol. 734, c. 394.]

Mr. Hamling

Is my right hon. Friend aware that if we had specialist committees to probe the activities of the Executive we might be spared the fiasco of last night's Motion of censure on the Opposition Front Bench?

The Prime Minister

I think that perhaps this is rather wide of the question. I was not sure that it would be the function of specialist committees to probe the function of the Opposition. On the serious point of the question, there have been discussions with the Opposition and the ball is now back in the Government's court and we hope after further discussions with the Opposition to make a full statement to the House this month.

Mr. Heath

Is the Prime Minister aware that more than six months ago, winding up the debate on the Address, I gave the Opposition's agreement to the establishment of a specialist committee on science and technology, but nothing happened about it despite our full agreement specifically on that point?

The Prime Minister

I was aware of the right hon. Gentleman's point about the six months, and if I was not I would have seen it from the entertaining speech he made at Scarborough on Saturday when he repeated it. A considerable part of the time, not the whole of it, has been held up inevitably by delays on the part of the Opposition in considering some of our proposals. I think that there is very general agreement about the committee on science and technology and we could proceed with this now, but there are other proposals which we have made, and some highly important proposals by the Opposition, which it would be useful if we could agree on and put to the House this month.