HC Deb 09 February 1967 vol 740 cc1828-45
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. Richard Crossman)

Yes, Sir.

The business for next week will be as follows:

MONDAY, 13TH FEBRUARY: In the morning—

Second Reading of the Plant Health Bill [Lords] and of the Forestry Bill [Lords], which are Consolidation Measures.

Remaining stages of the Export Guarantees Bill.

In the afternoon—

Supply [8th allotted day]:

There will be a debate on The Brain Drain, which will arise on an Opposition Motion.

Consideration of Lords Amendments to the London Government Bill.

TUESDAY, 14TH FEBRUARY—Second Reading of the Companies Bill [Lords].

Remaining stages of the Local Government (Termination of Reviews) Bill.

Motion on the Tees-Side Order.

WEDNESDAY, 15TH FEBRUARY: In the morning—

Remaining stages of the Post Office (Borrowing Powers) Bill, and of the Plant Health Bill [Lords], and the Forestry Bill]Lords.]

In the afternoon—

Second Reading of the Marine Etc., Broadcasting (Offences) Bill.

THURSDAY, 16TH FEBRUARY—Debate on a Motion to take note of the Report by Lord Mountbatten of the Inquiry into Prison Escapes and Security (Cmnd. 3175).

FRIDAY, 17TH FEBRUARY—Private Member's Bills.

The business proposed on MONDAY 20TH FEBRUARY in the morning is—

Motion on the Diplomatic Privileges (Citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies) (Amendment) Order.

In the afternoon—

Remaining stages of the Road Safety Bill and of the Road Traffic Bill.

Mr. Heath

I am sure that the whole House hopes that the discussions going on in Malta at the moment will prove to be successful in resolving the difficulties, but, should they fail, will the Leader of the House take note that we should like to have a debate on Malta next week? Will he give an undertaking that he w ill consider rearranging the business towards the end of the week, should the situation demand it?

Mr. Crossman

I quite accept that the contingency which I know we all hope will not arise, may arise and that the Oppo- sition would want to debate this. I would take it that, since the Government gave time on the last occasion, it would be on a Supply day at short notice? We would certainly agree to be as helpful as possible.

Mr. Sydney Silverman

Does my right hon. Friend recall that a few days ago, when the Prime Minister was asked which Minister would be responsible in the House of Commons for Aden, he replied that it would be the Foreign Secretary and that in further exchanges he agreed that the position in Aden was so anomalous that the Foreign Secretary might well afford further clarification on what was the position? Bearing that in mind, can he say when we may receive this clarification from the Foreign Secretary? Does he appreciate that the statement which the Foreign Secretary made on a cognate matter the other day only underlines the anomalous situation and the need for clarification? Can the House have a debate upon this as quickly as possible?

Mr. Crossman

I do not think that we should debate the substance here. I know my hon. Friend's great concern about this, and I will ask the Foreign Secretary to give the clarification as soon as possible.

Sir S. Summers

In view of the uncertainty prevailing in many quarters following a question which I put in November last to the Leader of the House about the Whitsun Recess, when we were told that it would be related to the secular holiday, can the Leader of the House give any additional information?

Mr. Crossman

I should like to serve the convenience of the House as much as I can. I have, as the hon. Gentleman has said, stated the Government's intention to relate the Whitsun Recess to the secular holiday on 29th May. I understand that it may be for the convenience of Members if the adjournment were to be beamed backwards, that is, from the secular to the Whitsun Holiday weekend. In this case, it would be possible if, as has happened before, the adjournment lasts for two weeks, to make it stretch between the two events. I am sure that the House will understand that the outcome of this must depend upon the progress of business, and that there must be some time before a final decision is reached.

Mr. Atkinson

In the light of our experience of morning sittings last week, would not my right hon. Friend agree that now is the time to start discussions about rolling back the whole programme of the House on Mondays and Wednesdays so that we can start Mondays and Wednesdays with Question Time at 10 o'clock in the morning? This would enable us to get through the business of the House much quicker.

Mr. Crossman

I do not think that strictly that is related to next week's business. Yesterday morning's sitting went very equably, and we should seek to maintain that standard next week.

Mr. Powell

Has the right hon. Gentleman any statement to make, as he indicated last week he would, on the date of the publication of the Defence White Paper?

Mr. Crossman

I hope that the Defence White Paper will be available on Thursday, 16th February.

Mr. Heffer

In view of the very deep concern felt on this side of the House about Vietnam, and in view of the statement by President Johnson to the Pope and Mr. Kosygin's speech yesterday, may we have an assurance from my right hon. Friend that we shall have an early debate on the whole question of Vietnam?

Mr. Crossman

I can give my hon. Friend the assurance that we shall consider the possibility of it. However, as I said last time this question was raised, this subject was debated not long ago. Unless the situation justifies it, I do not think we are likely to find an occasion for a debate on Vietnam in the near future.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Will the right hon. Gentleman at least keep in mind that there is also great suffering in the Yemen? Referring to Motion No. 368 on the subject of Egyptian aggression and gas warfare, may I ask whether he recalls that last Thursday during business questions he said that the Middle East was clearly one of the subjects which we might now consider had become urgent?

[That this House calls on Her Majesty's Government to raise in the United Nations Security Council the threat to peace presented by the United Arab Republic's extension of the Yemen war to Saudi Arabia, and the use of poison gas against the Yemen and Saudi civilians, contrary to the Geneva Protocol, to which Egypt is a signatory.]

How urgent is it now, and when shall we have a debate?

Mr. Crossman

I would remind the hon. Gentleman that in the relatively near future we shall be having a whole series of days on which we discuss defence and the Defence Estimates and there will be opportunities then for discussion of certain aspects. But I appreciate that there is a demand for a foreign affairs debate which should centre, in part at least, on the Middle East. Certainly we shall consider that through the usual channels.

Mr. Philip Noel-Baker

In view of the changes in the situation in Vietnam, of the recent declarations by the President and Secretary of State of the United States and of the meeting with Mr. Kosygin, may I press on my right hon. Friend that it is really urgent that the House should again debate the whole matter?

Mr. Crossman

I give my right hon. Friend the assurance that after the important discussions now taking place in London between Mr. Kosygin and the Government there will be a reconsideration by the Government of the desirability of a debate. But I cannot give any firm commitment on that subject.

Mr. Hogg

With regard to the debate on the Mountbatten Report next Thursday, can the right hon. Gentleman say what form he intends the debate to take and, if it be on a Government Motion, when we shall have the terms of that Motion so that we may consider it?

Mr. Crossman

It is our intention to table a Motion to take note of the Report.

Mr. Lubbock

Referring to Monday's debate on the brain drain, may I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman is aware that a committee of inquiry has been established under Dr. F. E. Jones to inquire into the migration of scientists and that that committee is expected to report in the next few months? Therefore, while this is a matter of very great importance, does not the right hon. Gentleman consider that a debate in the House on the subject would be premature? Secondly, has he taken note of Motion No. 319 concerning a free vote on the question of decimal currency?

[That this House welcomes the statement of Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer in Command Paper No. 3164 that the decision of Her Majesty's Government to retain the £system in a decimal currency is subject to the final approval of Parliament, and trusts that such Parliamentary approval will be sought by a free vote of the House of Commons.]

Has the right hon. Gentleman made up his mind on that subject? Can he give an assurance that there will be a free vote?

Mr. Crossman

On the first question, I would point out with respect to the Liberal Chief Whip that when the Opposition select a subject it is for them to select it and not for us on this side of the House. I should like to consider the question he hon. Gentleman asked about decimal currency and write to him about it.

Mr. Michael Foot

Referring to Thursday's business, is it intended to spend the whole day on the Mountbatten Report? Was that selection made by the Opposition? Would my right hon. Friend consider giving half that day to debating the much more urgent question of Vietnam which many hon. Members on both sides of the House, presumably, would like to debate then, particularly in view of the extremely urgent references to the matter made by the Soviet Prime Minister on his visit to this country?

Mr. Crossman

Certainly I will consider that suggestion. But it is not my impression that there is not a widespread interest on this subject, and I have a suspicion that if I had suggested three hours to debate the Mountbatten Report that would have been considered very inadequate by most hon. Members.

Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles

Will the right hon. Gentleman arrange a very early opportunity to debate the special difficulties which morning sittings cause for the Officers and Officials and all the staff of the House?

Mr. Crossman

I do not think that that is a subject to which we should devote a whole debate. I hope to arrange a debate on procedure in the not too far distant future in which, no doubt, hon. Members can compare their experiences of morning sittings. I pay my tribute to the Officers of the House who are doing an admirable job under considerable difficulty.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins

May I disabuse my right hon. Friend's mind of the notion that there is no interest in a debate on Vietnam? I assure him that there is a real and widespread interest in a debate on this subject on this side of the House and, I think, on the benches opposite.

Mr. Crossman

I am a little bewildered. I thought that I had made it clear that I recognised the strength of interest in Vietnam, and after the conversations with the Russians are over I shall talk to the Prime Minister about whether there is a new situation which justifies a debate. What I was emphasising was that there would be a great number of right hon. and hon. Members who would keenly object if I took away half the time devoted to the Mountbatten Report and gave it to a debate on Vietnam. Frankly, I think that both subjects are important.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that on 14th December last he undertook that only Ministerial statements of secondary importance would be made during morning sittings? Is he aware that, despite that, yesterday morning the Minister of Health made a statement of major importance, as indeed the Press has treated it, affecting, as it does, the lives of hundreds of people every year? Will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that in future the undertaking which he gave to the House will be strictly observed?

Mr. Crossman

This is a matter which I think we want to discuss, and we want to work out our experience. It was my view that my right hon. Friend's statement was exactly the kind of statement which I thought suitable for the mornings. We must learn by experience. The Government will be prepared to work with the House on what should or should not be done about statements in the mornings. When I read the Report of the Select Committee, I came to the conclusion that it meant that, for instance, the business statement and major statements on foreign policy or home policy should clearly be made at 3.30, but that we should seek to cut away the interruption and postponement of the debate at 3.30 by taking in the mornings what I call matters of secondary importance but not the kind of thing which should be taken at 3.30. If right hon. and hon. Members say that they want all statements of any importance to be made at 3.30, the advantage of trying to get on with the debate at 3.30 will not be obtained. I am prepared to discuss this matter because we are trying an experiment this Session, but I should have thought that this was exactly the kind of statement—a rather long statement, but a statement of importance—which would hold up business in the afternoon.

Mr. Speaker

Order. We cannot argue a question in detail at business question time.

Mr. Orme

On morning sittings, is my right hon. Friend aware that many hon. Members on this side of the House do not accept that business should be down-graded and that we should like to see important business taken in the mornings? Why cannot my right hon. Friend consider having a debate on the Vietnam situation during a morning sitting? This subject is topical and very important.

Mr. Crossman

I am prepared to consider everything, but I doubt whether a debate on Vietnam is the kind of debate which we should take in the morning during the period of this experiment. I emphasised that in the mornings we should take matters of secondary importance. Having said that, I must keep my promise to the House to treat the mornings in that way.

Mr. Brewis

Would the right hon. Gentleman say what has happened to the very important Scottish business which was to be discussed this week? Has it been postponed indefinitely owing to the right hon. Gentleman's procedural incompetence?

Mr. Crossman

I hope to make a statement about that business in my next business statement.

Mr. C. Pannell

Will my right hon. Friend be very careful not to have anything in this place designated either first-class or second-class? We have already had one designation of Question Time as "precious time", as if that was right over the top. If we get into this state of mind, we will soon be talking about first-and second-class Members.

Mr. Crossman

There is a great deal of wisdom in my right hon. Friend's observation. It is important when one talks about matters having classes of importance. Basically, we are talking about the kind of thing that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health said yesterday morning. Of course, it was a first-rate importance in one sense, but it was also, I thought, the kind of business that we should have at a morning sitting.

Mr. Biffen

Can the Leader of the House confirm that the first item on Monday morning will be the adjourned debate on the Prayer to annul the Salop (No. 2) Order?

Mr. Crossman

No. The arrangement which I have made is to take the Opposition Prayer after we have had the two Consolidation Measures and the Export Guarantees Bill. We will normally take the Prayers at the end of each sitting.

Mr. Frank Allaun

Following his answer on the Defence White Paper, can my right hon. Friend say when the Defence Estimates will be published and when we are likely to debate them, too?

Mr. Crossman

The Defence Estimates—indeed, the whole Vote on Account—will also be published on 16th February.

Mr. Prior

Is the Leader of the House aware that his reply to my right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) about statements made at morning sittings is quite remarkable, because last week he said that the statement on foot and mouth disease by the Minister of Agriculture would be an ideal statement to be made at a morning sitting but it has not been made?

Mr. Speaker

Order. We must have proper business questions. We cannot enter into argument now.

Mr. Prior

Will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that the Minister of Agriculture makes in the morning next week the statement which he promised last week?

Mr. Crossman

I have looked into the matter of a statement on foot and mouth disease. This is an extremely important issue. My right hon. Friend tells me that he wishes to make a statement after full and careful investigation. I am sure that he should be given time to get the investigation completed before he makes his statement.

Mr. Prior

In the House?

Mr. Crossman

Yes, in the House.

Dr. David Kerr

Will my right hon. Friend note the continued pressure for debates on subjects such as Yemen and Vietnam? Will he not consider bringing forward as a matter of urgency the recommendations of the Select Committee on Procedure concerning urgent and topical debates?

Mr. Crossman

I cannot give any assurance about that. I suggest that we might debate the Report on Standing Order No. 9 together with the expected Report on Finance Bill procedure which, I know, is coming in a week or two.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

Will the right hon. Gentleman think again about the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Oswestry (Mr. Biffen) concerning the Salop (No. 2) Order? I do not think that it was the right hon. Gentleman's intention that time should be ruled out by the way he arranges the business. It is a question of timing.

Mr. Crossman

That was not at all my intention. As an ex-Minister of Housing, I recognise that the Order is of considerable importance. I have no complaint about the way the business was conducted. There is no suggestion of time having been wasted. This is an important Order and time must be given for it. Certainly, I will consider the question.

Mr. Whitaker

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is justified indignation throughout the country at the operation of private enterprise in the insurance sector? Can we have a debate on this before there are any further victims?

Mr. Crossman

I would have thought that the Second Reading of the Companies Bill would give an opportunity for this subject.

Mr. Stodart

Further to the right hon. Gentleman's reply concerning the promised statement by the Minister of Agriculture, is he aware that when his right hon. Friend spoke on this subject he said that the statement would be made available to the House? In view of the allegations which appeared in a Sunday newspaper last week and which received great publicity on a matter which is causing great anxiety, will the Leader of the House confirm that the statement will be made in the House?

Mr. Crossman

Yes. I did not accept all the allegations which were made in the Sunday Press last week about any Member of the House; but I do not take that seriously. Of course, my right hon. Friend will make the statement in the House.

Mr. Judd

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is a good deal of concern in the House about the Government's overseas aid and development programme, particularly in the light of the recent White Paper and the decision concerning fees for overseas students? Can we have a debate on this?

Mr. Crossman

Certainly, I will consider that subject.

Mr. Ian Gilmour

Is the business which the Leader of the House has announced for next week reasonably firm or is it liable, as was the case this week, to be altered by his failure to conduct the business of the House properly?

Mr. Crossman

It is always dangerous to make predictions, but I am prepared to predict that this is a firm programme.

Mr. Blenkinsop

On Wednesday's business, may I have an assurance that the Government's White Paper on Broadcasting can be discussed as well as the Government's Bill?

Mr. Crossman

I had discussion about this through the usual channels. On the whole, I thought it better that the Bill should be discussed on its merits, which means postponing the debate on the White Paper until after Easter. That is a better division. I do not rule out a debate on the White Paper. I realise that preference is now felt for taking this subject on its own.

Sir R. Russell

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when the Government propose to stop blocking two animal welfare Bills at present awaiting Second Reading, namely, the Livestock Export Control Bill, introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Clark Hutchison), and the Export of Animals for Research Bill, introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, South (Mr. Pounder)?

Mr. Crossman

If these were the two Bills which were objected to on Friday, I will certainly take care to study the reasons for the objections and write to the hon. Member.

Mr. Rowland

In the light of his answer to my hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Blenkinsop), can my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House indicate whether, in his view, it would be proper during the debate on the Marine &c., Broadcasting (Offences) Bill to discuss the alternative radio proposals contained in the White Paper and which, in the view of many hon. Members, are to some extent related to the question of "pirates"?

Mr. Crossman

As my hon. Friend well knows, in Second Reading debates a certain latitude is allowed. That, however, is something which we shall have to think over and on which Mr. Speaker will, no doubt, rule.

Sir H. Harrison

Bearing in mind the right hon. Gentleman's great desire to protect the rights of back benchers, may I ask him to give an assurance that during next week's business he will be in his place to stop the Patronage Secretary twice moving the Closure before 10 o'clock on one day?

Mr. Crossman

I will give no kind of assurance on that. I point out to the hon. and gallant Member that the first Closure took place after private Members had had in total no less than 14 hours of time to seek redress of grievance on the Consolidated Fund Bill for the Winter Supplementary Estimates.

Mr. Speaker

Order. This is the time for questions on business.

Mr. Monro

Will the Leader of the House look at Motion No. 365, calling attention to the failure of the Government to implement the wages award to national and local government officers in Scotland?

[That this House deplores the arbitrary application of the Government's economic policy, resulting in the rejection of a pay rise for local government employees in Scotland which has been granted to equivalent staff in England and Wales; and calls upon Her Majesty's Government to rectify this anomaly.]

May we have a debate on it?

Mr. Crossman

I do not think that there is anything on this subject which I can add to the statement of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland.

Mr. Paget

Will my right hon. Friend consider the possibility of giving a little notice of the intentions of Ministers to make statements at morning sittings, so that those who wish to hear them may be present?

Mr. Crossman

Yes, indeed. If my hon. and learned Friend studies the Order Paper, he will find that we are now seeking to give notice of Monday's statements on Friday's Order Paper, precisely for that purpose.

Mr. Clark Hutchison

As the Government agreed to give time for the Sexual Offences (No. 2) Bill, which was very contentious, will they now give time for the Livestock Export Control Bill, which has all-party support and has great support in the country?

Mr. Crossman

I am certainly prepared to consider that possibility.

Mr. John Fraser

Can my right hon. Friend yet say when we will have the First reading of the Leasehold Reform Bill?

Mr. Crossman

I have no precise date to give except to say that I think that the Bill will be published well before the Easter Recess.

Mr. Carlisle

Referring to Monday's business, since the right hon. Gentleman said that the object of morning sittings was to enable us to go home earlier in the evenings, will he say why he has put down exempted business for Monday? Will he undertake in future not to put down exempted business on days when there are morning sittings?

Mr. Crossman

Our aim in the morning sittings is not directly related always to the same evening. It is to take the burden off the evenings generally. The hon. Member will find that next week, for example, there is a likelihood that on Wednesday and Thursday we may have a reasonable prospect of retiring to bed at a normal time. We are not, therefore, relating Monday morning to Monday evening. We are working over the week as a whole and ensuring that time is saved in the evenings in that way.

Mr. Berry

When will we have a debate on transport, bearing in mind particularly the urgent need for a rail link with Heathrow airport, the absence of which was highlighted this week by the arrival of Mr. Kosygin?

Mr. Crossman

I am aware of that. I cannot make a statement today, but I hope in the near future to make a statement on transport.

Mr. Buck

Will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that in future arrangements are made, as far as he as Leader of the House can make them, to see that the House suspends its sitting if a leader of a Government visits this Palace? Is he not aware that there could be a highly embarrassing and invidious situation this afternoon if suddenly somebody were to demand a Count? We would all want to be present to hear the speech of a visiting Head of State.

Mr. Crossman

Mr. Speaker has spoken on this. This matter was carefully considered. In reply to the hon. Gentleman, I would say that all precedents were very carefully considered and that precedent has been followed precisely on this occasion.

Sir Knox Cunningham

The Leader of the House, in reply to a question asked by my hon. Friend on why the Government had blocked two animal welfare Bills, said that he would consider the matter and find out the reasons. Will he also make certain that the Government do not block such Bills as this in future?

Mr. Crossman

Of course, the question of blocking has a very long tradition. It does not prove that everything in the Bill is opposed by the Government. However, I will look into this issue and I will write to the hon. and learned Gentleman on the merits of the two Bills.

Mr. Edward M. Taylor

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a danger of local government services in Scotland breaking down because of the outrageous wages anomalies referred by my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Mr. Monro)? Why cannot we have a morning sitting to find out what the Government are trying to do?

Mr. Crossman

I am glad that the hon. Member regards this matter as of secondary importance. Nevertheless, I will bear this in mind and will discuss this matter with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland.

Mr. McMaster

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the anxiety felt in the British shipbuilding industry about the Government's delay? Will he tell the House when it will publish the Bill that is expected and when there will be a debate on this subject?

Mr. Crossman

I am aware of the anxiety to have the Bill published. I believe that things are going perfectly well. I hope to make a statement on that in the relatively near future.

Sir Robert Cary

Does what the right hon. Gentleman said about transport, indicate that he may be making a statement on Thursday of next week? By not debating the White Paper on Transport, is not the House drifting into a position where it may be creating a Transport Bill without having first debated the White Paper?

Mr. Crossman

I did not mean to imply that the Government were seeking to evade a debate on transport. All I said was that it had not been excluded, and that I may make a statement on Thursday.

Mr. Onslow

Concerning the morning sittings, the Leader of the House comes here so seldom that he does not know that only one of the three items set down for consideration in the morning has been concluded in the morning. Is he sure that he has not overloaded next week's morning sittings again and that we can get through without the Closure being necessary?

Mr. Crossman

As I said on Monday, I have no complaint of the way that hon. Gentlemen are using the morning sittings. Obviously there was keen interest in the Ministry of Aviation. Obviously, in the last resort, after seven hours of debate, it was brought to a conclusion in the evening. Therefore two whole mornings were spent on that. It is up to the Opposition to decide what kind of importance they attach to the items we discuss in the morning. I am not criticising the Opposition for finding that particular Order so important that they wanted to talk about it. I should have thought that we should go on as we are. I was wholly satisfied with how things were going on Wednesday. I regarded the Shropshire Order as a very important and interesting matter meriting discussion, and I was very glad that hon. Members were here to discuss it.

Mr. Bob Brown

Rather than my right hon. Friend expending any energy in considering Private Members' Bills in relation to animal welfare, would he not consider that the proper thing to do is to press on with legislation on the Brambell Report?

Mr. Crossman

This has nothing to do with next week's business. The Government are already considering the form of legislation in which the Report will be turned into law.

Mr. MacArthur

Will the Leader of the House realise that the matter raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Mr. Monro) and my hon. Friend the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor) is of primary importance? If there is no time for a debate next week, will he arrange for the Secretary of State for Scotland to make a statement arising from the Motion mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries in view of the arbitrary application of the Government's economic policy which discriminates against 20,000 local government officers in Scotland, and also 50,000 manual workers?

Mr. Crossman

I am aware of the great interest and I will certainly communicate that wish to my right hon. Friend, and suggest to him that, if there is need for a statement, it should take place on either Monday or Wednesday morning.

Mr. Leadbitter

Will the Leader of the House reconsider his decision regarding an early debate on insurance? Is he aware that I asked a Question on this matter in the House yesterday which produced information which has created great public concern, and that therefore an early debate, outside the Companies Bill, would give the House an opportunity at least to have something to say about the scoundrels who are still making a living out of this matter?

Mr. Crossman

I appreciate the interest in the subject, but I cannot promise my hon. Friend an early debate. I would remind him that we are moving into a period where we have a group of defence debates and the Estimates to consider, and there will be little time for debates of this kind. This is certainly a subject that we will consider as being one on the list for possible debate.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

Has the Leader of the House decided when he will make time available for Motion No. 376 to be debated, since it has now been signed by at least 61 people in two different political parties and reflects on his incompetence as Leader of the House?

[That this House reminds the Leader of the House of his duty to safeguard the right of hon. Members to seek redress of grievances before voting Supply, and regrets that he neglected this duty both during the debate on the Consolidated Fund Bill and also while disputing the advice tendered by Mr. Speaker on 2nd February, 1967.]

Mr. Crossman

I have studied this Motion. The most suitable comment on it is the Amendment put down by some of my hon. Friends.

[Leave out from 'that' to end and add 'the Leader of the Opposition, after appealing on Thursday, 26th January to the Leader of the House to avoid the closure of the Consolidated Fund Bill, HANSARD, column 1794, nevertheless in a manner totally unbefitting his office took advantage of the Government's generosity by obtaining on Thursday, 2nd February a postponement of the consideration of the Bill'.]

I am not allowed during Business questions to indulge in discussion of a matter. I should have thought that we had discussed this quite enough. I am always prepared to debate such things, but we have to see that the House gets through its business and that it does not indulge in recriminations.

Mr. Kershaw

Would the Leader of the House give an assurance that he has not lost sight of the Gloucester Order? Does he realise that if we always have Prayers in the morning sittings it may be squeezed out of time?

Mr. Crossman

We do not by any means always have Prayers in the morning. We have them in the evening as well. This is a matter of arrangement through the usual channels. Prayers are a matter for the Opposition and not for me. They tell me what they want to do and we work quite amicably in placing Prayers at times convenient to both sides of the House. The Gloucester Order is one of the Orders which, we recognise, need to be debated.

Mr. Costain

Will the Leader of the House bear in mind the importance of the Prayer on the Salop Order? If it is not reached on Monday will he allow time for it to be debated one evening?

Mr. Crossman

I will not have it talked out. It will have to be discussed and decided.

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