HC Deb 13 July 1967 vol 750 cc1012-23
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, 17TH JULY—In the morning—

Second Reading of the Irish Sailors and Soldiers Land Trust Bill [Lords].

Second Reading of the Welsh Language Bill [Lords].

Motions on the Civil Defence (Public Protection) Regulations for England and Wales and for Scotland, and on the Civil Defence (Casualty Services) Regulations.

In the afternoon—

Private Members' Motions until 7 o'clock.

Afterwards, Motion on the Prices and Incomes Act 1966 (Commencement of Part II) Order.

TUESDAY, 18TH JULY—Supply [27th Allotted Day]:

Debate on the Threat of Further Nationalisation of Bus Operators and Road Hauliers and the Ports and Docks Industry, which will arise on an Opposition Motion.

Second Reading of the Road Traffic Regulation Bill [Lords], which is a consolidation Measure.

Motion on the Coal Industry (Borrowing Powers) Order.

WEDNESDAY, 19TH JULY—In the morning—

Motions on the Housing Subsidies (Representative Rates of Interest) Orders for England and Wales and for Scotland, on the Agricultural and Horticultural Co-operation Scheme, on the Hill Land Improvement Schemes, for England and Wales and for Scotland, and on the Supplementary Benefit (Determination of Requirements) Regulations.

Remaining stages of the Welsh Language Bill [Lords].

In the afternoon—

Progress on the remaining stages of the Companies Bill [Lords].

THURSDAY, 20TH JULY—Supply [28th Allotted Day]:

Debate on Foreign Affairs, on a Motion for the Adjournment of the House.

Remaining stages of the Greenwich Hospital Bill.


Remaining stages of the Road Traffic Regulations Bill [Lords], which is a consolidation Measure.

Lords Amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Bill.

Motions on the Summer Time Order and on the National Steel Corporation (Change of Name) Order.

Motions on the Double Taxation Relief (Taxes on Income) (Luxembourg) (South Africa) and (South West Africa) Orders.

Remaining stages of the Matrimonial Homes Bill [Lords], and consideration of Lords Amendments to the Civic Amenities Bill, which are Private Members' Measures.

MONDAY, 24TH JULY—The proposed business will be:

In the morning—

Remaining stages of the Irish Sailors and Soldiers Land Trust Bill [Lords].

Motion on the Furniture Industry Development Council (Amendment No. 3) Order.

Lords Amendments to the Wireless Telegraphy Bill.

In the afternoon—

Supply [29th Allotted Day]:

Debate on Economic Affairs, on an Opposition Motion.

At 10 p.m. the Question will be put from the Chair on all outstanding Votes.

It may be convenient for the House to be aware that while the date of the Adjournment for the Summer must depend on the progress of business, it is hoped that this will be possible on 28th July.

It is proposed that the House should resume on Monday, 23rd October.

Mr. Heath

On Thursday's debate on foreign affairs, would the Leader of the House agree that it would be for the convenience of the House if the debate were to concentrate on affairs other than the Middle East, upon which we have recently had a debate?

Secondly, can the Leader of the House now tell us the date of publication of the Defence White Paper?

Mr. Crossman

I entirely agree with the Leader of the Opposition that this is the way that we should conduct the debate on foreign affairs.

The Defence White Paper will be published on Tuesday. Therefore, there will probably be a full week before the debate.

Mr. Winnick

May I ask my right hon. Friend a non-controversial question? Would it be possible to have a debate in the near future about a Parliamentary day starting at ten o'clock in the morning and ending at seven o'clock in the evening, and having no Recesses longer than four weeks?

Mr. Crossman

All topics are possible for debate. I have not thought of that combined topic, but we might reflect upon it during the Recess.

Mr. Peyton

May I ask the Leader of the House whether he has deliberately put in the Coal Industry (Borrowing Powers) Order last on Tuesday so as to ensure yet another all-night sitting to his credit.

Mr. Crossman

No, that was not my intention, nor will it be the result of my putting it there.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins

My right hon. Friend has omitted to find time for the Employment Agencies Bill next week. May I have his assurance that he will do his best the week after?

Mr. Crossman

Yes. I am always seeking to do my best for my hon. Friend, but it gets progressively more difficult as we move towards 28th July.

Sir A. V. Harvey

Has the Leader of the House taken note of Motion No. 604, signed by over 100 right hon. and hon. Members on this side of the House which complains that the right hon. Gentleman completely fails in managing the business of the House and says that, as the guardian of the rights of the private Member, he has failed completely to look after their interests? Will he give time to debate the Motion?

[That this House deplores the damage done to the reputation of Parliament and the unnecessary strain placed on the Chair and staff of the House of Commons through the gross mismanagement of Parliamentary business by the Leader of the House.]

Mr. Crossman

I have not only seen the Motion—I made a study of it. It will interest the hon. Member to know that of the 96 names to the Motion, as many as six stayed to the end of both nights of the Prices and Incomes Bill.

Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. I would like to hear Business questions.

Mr. Mendelson

With reference to the discussion on the Coal Industry (Borrowing Powers) Order, quite apart from any general discussion that has taken place on the late sittings, would my right hon. Friend reconsider the position? The Minister of Power promised the House a statement on the coal industry. This will be the last major opportunity to discuss the position in the industry. There is grave concern throughout the coal fields. Would he not be well-advised, on behalf of the Government as well as the House, to provide time early in the afternoon?

Mr. Crossman

Proper time is being provided. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Power will make his promised statement at the beginning of the debate on the Order. Of course, I am prepared to consult, through the usual channels. I have had some informal consultations with my hon. Friends, and, if possible, I will try to meet their wishes.

Mr. Patrick Jenkin

Is not the point of Motion No. 604 that Mr. Speaker and the servants of the House were here, on both nights, until the rising of the House?

Mr. Crossman

If that was the purpose of the Motion—

Hon. Members

Read it.

Mr. Speaker

Order. We must not drift into merits. This is Business Question time.

Mr. Crossman

The purpose of the Motion, as I thought, was that it was a sort of rebuke to be administered to the Leader of the House. If it was to do with the problem of the servants of the House, I would like to tell the hon. Gentleman that I have had consultations with the servants of the House, in view of the strong view expressed opposite that we ought to have another week here instead of ending on 28th July. I found that all of the servants of the House, through the Serjeant at Arms, through the Chairman of the Catering Committee, and through the Clerk, expressed an almost unanimous desire, which I share, to end, if we can, on 28th July.

Mr. Hector Hughes

I am sorry once .gain to have to ask my right hon. Friend to give time to my Motion to restore to seamen coming home to visit their relatives the facilities they formerly enjoyed and remind him that it would be decent to do so, having regard to the facilities that he gave for homosexuality last week?

[That this House is of opinion that for social, family, economic and other reasons the withdrawal by British Railways of the cheap fare railway vouchers hitherto available to seamen and their families is wrong as it frustrates family reunions, deprives British Railways of fares, diminishes British Railways income and how calls upon Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Minister of Transport, by legislation or otherwise, to restore to British seamen and their families the relevant facilities which they have hitherto enjoyed.]

Mr. Crossman

The last part of my hon. and learned Friend's question has an implication which I would not accept. As for the first part, All I can say is that there will be two further occasions before the Recess on which he can play variations on that tune.

Sir G. Nabarro

With regard to the Coal Industry (Borrowing Powers) Order, which he is bringing on at 10 o'clock on Tuesday night, is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), a few days ago, alluded to the mining industry being in a condition of revolt against the Government? As there are a very large number of Members who wish to speak on an Order entailing £750 million of taxpayers' money, could we not have this Order brought here at 3.30 in the afternoon instead of the outrageous hour of ten o'clock at night?

Mr. Crossman

As I said, I am prepared to consider the possibilities here, both through the usual channels and in informal negotiation. We will certainly consider the possibility.

Several Hon. Members rose

Mr. Speaker

Order. I would remind the House that we have an enormous amount of business ahead today.

Mr. Pavitt

In view of the statement in last Saturday's Financial Times, foreshadowing the appointment of Mr. Niall Macdiarmid—an implacable opponent of steel nationalisation—to the North-Eastern Group of the Steel Corporation, will my right hon. Friend arrange for a statement on this matter before the House rises?

Mr. Crossman

I will certainly communicate to my right hon. Friend the wish of my hon. Friend.

Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

As one who did stay to the end of the debates on the Prices and Incomes Bill, on both occasions, may I ask the Leader of the House when he proposes to bring forward the Order activating Part II of the Bill? Is he aware that that will take a very long time?

Mr. Crossman

Perhaps the hon. and learned Gentleman did not hear what I said. We propose to bring it forward on Monday next, at seven o'clock.

Mr. E. Rowlands

Would my right hon. Friend tell us whether we shall be able to have a debate on the important White Paper on Town and Country Planning before the end of the Session?

Mr. Crossman

I think that everybody will have had time to study the White Paper now. It is unlikely that there will be time for a debate. It is possible that we shall be having legislation early the next Session, but I do not think that I can see any chance of a debate on the White Paper before that.

Sir F. Bennett

Has the right hon. Gentleman's attention been drawn to the Motion on the Order Paper, signed by Members of all parties, expressing concern about certain aspects of the coming referendum on Gibraltar? Can he say whether there will be time for a debate on the Motion? If not, will the referendum Order, when laid, be debatable?

[That this House insists that a decisive vote by the people of Gibraltar to maintain their links with the United Kingdom at the September Referendum shall be regarded as definitive, altogether precluding further talks by Her Majesty's Government with Spain on the Rock's political future; and urges that the wishes of the people inherent in any such vote shall be speedily implemented in a form and in a manner best calculated to achieve a permanent, effective and close association between this country and Gibraltar.]

Mr. Crossman

I should like notice of the second part of the question. On the first part, I should have thought that the debate on foreign affairs would give an opportunity to hon. Members to raise that matter.

Mr. Gibson-Whatt

Could the right hon. Gentleman help me as I would wish to help him over this matter? It is our wish to help the Welsh Language Bill through all its stages. The Second Reading is to take place on Monday. I notice that the remaining stages will be coming up very late on Wednesday night. Can an effort be made to ensure that it is not too late? This is an important Bill and certain Amendments have to be proposed.

Secondly, would it be possible to have a debate on the very important White Paper on Welsh Local Government, which is a far-reaching document and should be debated in the House?

Mr. Crossman

On the second question, I agree with the hon. Gentleman that that is an extremely important subject. But I think that it is suitable for debate in the Welsh Grand Committee. There will almost certainly be another Welsh debate when we return after the Recess.

On the first question, I think that the hon. Gentleman must have misheard me, since that business is to be taken in the morning, and not the afternoon, of Wednesday.

Mr. Bob Brown

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this afternoon an Amendment to Motion No. 604 was tabled in the names of over 80 hon. Members on this side of the House? The Amendment places the responsibility clearly where it lies—on the Conservative Opposition, who obviously hate morning sittings. Will my right hon. Friend continue to seek to endeavour to ensure that this place becomes a full-time workshop?

Mr. Crossman

I shall study the names to the Amendment with as great interest as I studied the names to the Motion. I appreciate the number of names to the Amendment.

Sir T. Beamish

Has the right hon. Gentleman studied Motion No. 599, which points out that yet another all-night sitting of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill would be quite unnecessary if the Government faced up to their responsibilities in this matter?

[That this House, in favour of a reform of the law governing abortion, urges the Government to declare itself in agreement with the present Private Member's Bill, amended in accordance with the four requirements laid down last week by the British Medical Association and supported by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, so that an amended Bill can reach the Statute Book in normal parliamentary hours with the maximum support and goodwill, rather than be the subject of all-night controversy, which brings Parliament into disrepute and will result in the enactment of badly drafted legislation strongly opposed in important respects by the medical profession.]

Mr. Crossman

I am glad that the hon. and gallant Gentleman expresses support for the Measure, but I do not think that this is a matter on which we should act. The House will have an opportunity to act in the relatively near future.

Mr. Blaker

Has the attention of the Leader of the House been drawn to Motion No. 598, which calls on the Government to reconsider their policy in relation to the £50 travel allowance? Will it be possible to have a debate on the Motion, if not next week, then perhaps when we resume in the autumn?

[That this House, noting that all major countries of Western Europe, North America and most of the rest of the countries of the free world except Great Britain allow their citizens either complete freedom in exchange facilities for foreign travel or a maximum at least five times as great as Great Britain, believes that the proposals of Her Majesty's Government to maintain exchange facilities for travel in non-sterling countries to residents of the United Kingdom at a maximum of £50 is unrealistic, contrary to the understanding and spirit of international convention and damaging to the reputation of Great Britain, and calls upon Her Majesty's Government to reconsider their policy in this matter without delay.]

Mr. Crossman

Thanks to the activities of the Opposition Front Bench, the hon. Gentleman will have a chance to raise that subject in the economic debate.

Mr. Onslow

Referring to Motion No. 604, does not the right hon. Gentleman understand that there is no one in this building who has any confidence in his control over the business of the House? Therefore, it is not surprising that the servants of the House have turned down his offer of an extra week's work.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman must ask business questions.

Mr. Crossman

I suppose that the answer is that each of us must form his own view of what the House thinks. We have late sittings from time to time, as we must. I remember that in our days of opposition one took some credit for one's power of delaying the Government's work. The Opposition should take their fair share of the credit for the success that they have had in the last week.

Mr. Speaker

Order. We cannot debate the Motion now.

Sir J. Eden

Even though the right hon. Gentleman has said that he will consider the representations which have just been made to him about Tuesday's business, how is it that the coal industry Order was put down for Tuesday in the first instance? Surely he knows from his own experience that that must lead to an all-night sitting. Is that his inention?

Mr. Crossman

It was originally put dawn for Monday. Then we had to modify the business because of the need to deal with the Prices and Incomes Order avid I moved it to Tuesday. If hon. Members feel that we should consult further on this matter, I am prepared to do so.

Mr. Wall

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when we shall have a statement on the results of Lord Alport's mission?

Mr. Crossman

No, I cannot. Lord Alport does not get back until Monday morning. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has made it clear that the first thing for him to do is to report to the Prime Minister. Then there will be consultations through the usual channels about what form the discussion should take.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

What is the need for hurrying forward the Civil Defence Regulations before the Recess? Does my right hon. Friend think that they will be needed during the Recess?

Mr. Crossman

It is part of the Leader of the House's habit of trying to get 20 or 30 affirmative Orders finished en bloc.

Mr. Fortescue

Would the right hon. Gentleman say why he has taken the unusual course of putting on today's business two Bills to be proceeded with at this day's Sitting at any hour, though opposed when he knows perfectly well that the first-mentioned Bill is liable to take a very long time indeed?

Mr. Crossman

I think that what the hon. Gentleman is referring to is the fact that Friday's business has been put down for Thursday. I give the hon. Gentleman the assurance that I have done that merely because of the unpredictable nature of what might happen on Friday. Nothing will be done about that business until after eleven o'clock on Friday morning.

Mr. Buck

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Report of the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis has come out and that at any day we must expect the Report of Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary? Would he not agree that it is most important that we should have a debate on these important documents before the Recess?

Mr. Crossman

It is a good principle not to decide on debates before the Reports have been published. I think that we should look forward to rising on 28th July, when we shall have plenty of time to read the Reports.

Mr. Goodhart

In view of the depressed condition of a number of British citizens who were recently advised by the British Government to leave the Middle East, when may we expect an announcement about Government policy on British refugees in this country?

Mr. Crossman

I will put that point to my right hon. Friend.

Mr. J. E. B. Hill

Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that he said that he would endeavour to avoid setting down agricultural business which clashed with the sittings of the Select Committee on Agriculture? Next Wednesday's business is very germane to the matters which the Select Committee is considering at the moment. Therefore, the course which the right hon. Gentleman proposes is most inconvenient.

Mr. Crossman

I agree, but the fact is that we have a mass of Orders which require to be studied by the House before the end of this month and, though I much regret it, I did not see a way of avoiding that coincidence of time.