HC Deb 01 June 1967 vol 747 cc259-66
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, 5TH JUNE—In the morning—

Motions on the Greenwich Hospital Accounts and on the Cinematograph Films (Collection of Levy) and (Distribution of Levy) Amendment Regulations.

In the afternoon—

Motion to take note of the Command Paper entitled The Development Areas.


Further progress with the Committee stage.

The business on Wednesday morning will be Motions on the Gas (Borrowing Powers) Order, the Calf Subsidies (United Kingdom) (Amendment) Scheme, and on the Agriculture (Tractor Cabs) Regulations.

Opposition Prayers on the National Insurance Amendment Regulations relating to Overlapping Benefits and Determination of Claims and Questions.

FRIDAY, 9TH JUNE—Private Members' Motions.

MONDAY, 12TH JUNE—The proposed business will be:

In the morning—

Resumed debate on the Second Reading of the Anchors and Chain Cables Bill, the remaining stages of the Road Transport Lighting Bill and the Motion on the Industrial Organisation and Development Order.

In the afternoon—

Further progress with the Committee stage of the Finance (No. 2) Bill.

Mr. Heath

The Leader of the House will recall—indeed, it was mentioned again yesterday—that just before the Recess he promised a statement about Aden and said that there would be a full debate upon it. Can he now tell us when the statement will be made, and when the debate will take place, because of the urgency of both?

Secondly, can the right hon. Gentleman assure us that there will be a debate on the Army reorganisation scheme?

Mr. Crossman

On Aden, I hope to make a statement in my next week's business statement. I am bearing it in mind. It is a question of timing. It was slightly affected by our debate yesterday.

I cannot give any assurance that the second subject which the right hon. Gentleman mentioned will be debated in the immediate future, but I will discuss it through the usual channels.

Sir G. de Freitas

In considering whether to find time in future for a debate on the work of the Council of Europe, will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the Government make more use of Council of Europe Conventions than all but three of the member States and have the worst record for providing Parliamentary time for debate?

Mr. Crossman

I will bear this in mind, but I would remind my hon. Friend that the Finance Bill will be discussed in the immediate future, and I see no opportunities in that time for that kind of debate.

Mr. David Steel

In the event of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill not completing its Report and Third Reading stages in the private Members' time available tomorrow, will the right hon. Gentleman consider giving some time to enable the House to complete its deliberations?

Mr. Crossman

This matter has been under consideration and the Government have decided that, if the proceedings are not completed on Friday, they are prepared to give limited time for this, although I must make it clear that this in no way affects the Government's neutrality to the substance of the Bill. This is solely concerned with the House of Commons having spent so much time that we think it vital that we should come to a decision one way or another. On our side, I do not think that my right hon. Friend the Patronage Secretary will be giving any advice to anyone how to vote.

Dr. David Kerr

Further to that consideration, what hopes can my right hon. Friend offer of further progress on the Sexual Offences (No. 2) Bill?

Mr. Crossman

The Government will adopt a very similar attitude to that Bill, on which a great deal of time, also, has been spent, and on which we hope a decision can also be reached.

Mr. Burden

Before the Recess, the right hon. Gentleman undertook to consider the possibility of early debates on the very important Reports of the Little-wood and Brambell Committees. Can he now make any announcement about the dates or the possibility of having these debates in the near future?

Mr. Crossman

I would repeat to the hon. Gentleman that I do not foresee this in the immediate future. Next week and the week after we will be concerned predominantly with the Finance Bill, and there will be limited time for debates on other subjects.

Mr. Hector Hughes

Will my right hon. Friend find time at long last for my Motion No. 510, about sailors returning from sea to visit their families, realising that Sir Francis Chichester is not the only sailor returning from sea?

[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 re-unions, deprives British Railways of fares, diminishes British Railways income and now 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

I appreciate to the full that my hon. and learned Friend now has a topical side to his Motion and I will certainly bear it in mind.

Mr. Sandys

In view of the very unsatisfactory answers given by the Foreign Secretary today on Rhodesia, would the right hon. Gentleman arrange for an early and full statement to be made about the progress of the operation of sanctions and the prospects of resuming negotiations?

Mr. Crossman

I do not accept the first part of the right hon. Gentleman's question, but I will certainly put his point to my right hon. Friend the Commonwealth Secretary when he returns from Canada.

Mr. Newens

When will the Order dealing with the siting of a third London airport at Stansted be debated? Will there be any delay in the placing of the Order as a result of the legal action initiated by Essex County Council?

Mr. Crossman

I have consulted my right hon. Friend about this. The position is not wholly clear, but I could possibly make a statement next week if my hon. Friend puts the question again.

Mr. Peyton

Would the right hon. Gentleman arrange for a debate on the validity of public inquiries, in view of the way in which the recent one on Stansted has been outrageously flouted by the President of the Board of Trade?

Mr. Crossman

I do not want to go into the substance of affairs, but Ministers have a duty to make up their minds after an inquiry and I see no question of something being flouted. I would rather that we waited. The matter is now, I think, sub judice, and we should leave it until it is clearer.

Mr. Pannell

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there will be general satisfaction on both sides of the controversy that the Government will take steps to give enough time to finish the controversy on the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill this Session? It is obviously a matter of great social importance. Would he understand that both sides of the case want the matter settled on its merits and not just through time running out or a mere Parliamentary stratagem?

Mr. Crossman

That was very much the Government's motive in deciding to give this matter time.

Mr. Kirk

Coming back to the subject of Stansted, will the right hon. Gentleman's statement next week cover only the legal aspect of the case? Will the Attorney-General be able to give the House some advice about what measures hon. Members may now take to pursue the interests of all their constituents?

Mr. Crossman

My statement will not concern the legal aspects, but only the possibility of debate in the House.

Mr. Winnick

Has my right hon. Friend any further information to give about a debate on colour discrimination, the P.E.P. Report and the need to extend the Race Relations Act, to which he made some reference just before the Recess?

Mr. Crossman

I cannot give an assurance about a debate on this subject in the immediate future.

Sir G. Nabarro

Whereas Wednesday morning's business, the Gas (Borrowing Powers) Order, is a relatively minor Order, what are the right hon. Gentleman's plans for a debate on the fuel and power matter of overwhelming importance, the increase in electricity charges of 10 per cent. and—including Coventry—of 15 per cent. promised in the Midlands?

Mr. Crossman

I am sure that my right hon. Friend will be relieved to hear that the hon. Gentleman considers that Order to be a minor matter, as it will no doubt mean that the discussion will be short. There will be an opportunity on a later Order to discuss electricity as well.

Sir Knox Cunningham

Now that Nasser is again breaking international conventions, when will we have the debate on Suez which the right hon. Gentleman promised?

Mr. Crossman

When we were debating the Adjournment for Whitsun, I said that the question of when we had the Suez debate was very much at the dis- posal of the House, and that I thought it was possible that we might await the publication of the book on Suez. I do not think that events lately have made any difference to the desirability of the debate.

Mr. Malcolm MacMillan

Has my right hon. Friend considered the terms of Motion No. 514, signed by nearly 150 hon. Members, on the violation of liberty in Greece?

[That this House, reaffirming its enduring friendship for Great Britain's gallantally against Fascism, the freedom-loving people of Greece, expresses its abhorrence of the brutal military mutiny against parliamentary and other democratic authority, the forcible seizure of Premier Canellopoulos and other political party leaders and the suppression of the free Press and freedom of speech and assembly on the eve of the elections; warns the rebel leaders against making any attempt at a violent or otherwise arbitrary solution in Cyprus; reminds them of Greece's binding democratic obligations under the North Atlantic Treaty and her ratified commitment to honour the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; would condemn any use of British-supplied or North Atlantic Treaty Organisation arms or equipment in the suppression of popular constitutional activities and expression; and urges a full return forthwith to civil democratic government and the holding of free elections, conducted under just procedures and the auspices of a caretaker government declared acceptable by the free decision of the elected Parliament.]

Will he give time for a short debate, so that the House can express its view before this evil régime is consolidated and democracy finally swept under the carpet, under the shadow of other events which have shaken the world outside Greece?

Mr. Crossman

My hon. Friend will be aware that, in the debate on the Whitsun Adjournment, a number of my hon. Friends and I expressed our views on the same subject. I see no opportunity of a debate in the near future.

Sir T. Beamish

Since the Minister responsible for the conduct of the Common Market negotiations is, unfortunately, a member of another place, will the right hon. Gentleman now answer the question which the Foreign Secretary so obstinately refused to answer and say which Minister will make regular progress reports to this House?

Mr. Crossman

If I did so, it would be a violation of business question time. I am discussing next week's business.

Mr. John Lee

On the subject of Rhodesia, is my right hon. Friend aware that many of us on this side are anxious to debate the progress of sanctions? Will he bear this in mind when fixing the timetable for the near future?

Mr. Crossman

It would not be candid if I did not tell the House that, in the next week or fortnight, we will not have time, at least not Government time, for that kind of debate. There will not be many Supply days available during that time either.

Mr. Biffen

When do the Government propose to publish a Bill incorporating their proposals for controlling prices and incomes from July onward, and when is the Second Reading of that Bill expected?

Mr. Crossman

I can only tell the House that publication will be next week.

Mr. Raphael Tuck

The Brambell Report gets dustier and dustier and my right hon. Friend makes certain promises about a debate in the not too distant future. Can we have a debate before we are all poisoned by the new methods of factory farming?

Mr. Crossman

I cannot go beyond what I said earlier. Part of the subject will, it is hoped, be covered by legislation in the not too distant future.

Sir F. Bennett

Further to the point made by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lewes (Sir T. Beamish), surely the hon. Gentleman is being unfair to the House. There is nothing improper at all in his now saying when a statement will be made and which Minister will report on the regular progress of the Common Market negotiations? If it cannot be made today, can he at least say when that statement will be made?

Mr. Crossman

I think that I heard my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary say that, if the question were put down, it would be answered in the normal way.

Mr. Patrick Jenkin

While I do not wish to engage in disputations with my hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, Siuth (Sir G. Nabarro), may I ask the right hon. Gentleman to accept that many of us on this side do not regard borrowing powers Orders as suitable for morning business? Would he confirm that he does not regard the Order for next Wednesday as a precedent for similar matters?

Mr. Crossman

I will reflect on this, as I am always ready to reflect on what we should or should not put down for the mornings, but I should have thought that this was a suitable matter for discussion in the morning.

Mr. Maxwell

Will my right hon. Friend provide time for a debate about the recent disgraceful behaviour of the Chinese towards our diplomats in Peking, so that we may express our disgust at this sort of barbarious behaviour towards our representatives?

Mr. Crossman

I am very much aware of the strength of feeling that exists on this subject, but I do not think that I could give an assurance that we will be able to debate it next week or the week after.

Sir C. Osborne

Since the Government's rigid wages policy will come to an end in eight weeks' time, and both trade unionists and employers want to know what the policy will be when it comes to an end, will the right hon. Gentleman say when a statement will be made and whether he will find time for hon. Members to discuss this problem, which is of more interest than anything else to the industrial workers of the country?

Mr. Crossman

I thought that I made it clear in answer to a previous question that the new Bill will be published next week. No doubt the Second Reading of that Bill will give hon. Members an opportunity to discuss these matters.

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