HC Deb 23 March 1967 vol 743 cc1917-23
Sir Alec Douglas-Home

May I ask the Leader of the House to state the business of the House for the first week after the Recess.

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Richard Crossman)

Yes, Sir. The business for the first week after the Easter Adjournment will be as follows:

TUESDAY, 4TH APRIL—Second Reading of the Matrimonial Causes Bill [Lords].

Remaining stages of the Fugitive Offenders Bill.

If there is time, Second Reading of the Superannuation(Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill.

WEDNESDAY, 5TH APRIL-In the morning—

Second Reading of the Commonwealth Settlement Bill and of the Merchant Shipping (Load Lines) Bill.

In the afternoon—

Remaining stages of the Marine &c. (Broadcasting) Offences Bill.

Prayers on the Crown Bedding Co., Birmingham, Road Transport Drivers and on Employees of the Birmingham Corporation, Transport Department.

THURSDAY, 6TH APRIL—Second Reading of the Dangerous Drugs Bill.

FRIDAY, 7TH APRIL—Private Members' Motions.

MONDAY, 10TH APRIL—The proposed business will be:

In the morning—

Remaining stages of the Commonwealth Settlement Bill and of the Merchant Shipping (Load Lines) Bill.

In the afternoon—

Second Reading of the Wireless Telegraphy Bill.

Mr. Lubbock

Is the Leader of the House aware that a very serious and disturbing situation has been revealed by the Report of the Services Committee on the Catering Department? Will he try to find time for a debate on this matter at an early opportunity? Before he does so, will he place in the Library of the House a full copy of the Treasury Catering Adviser's Report, which was submitted to the Services Committee?

Mr. Crossman

I will certainly have discussions through the usual channels about whether we should have a debate. I should not like the hon. Member to press me too hard on the second point before I have consulted my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer about this Report.

Mr. Rose

May I draw my right hon. Friend's attention to Motion No. 478, in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) and 85 of my hon. Friends? In view of the very serious situation caused by the arbitrary use of police powers, especially these powers in Northern Ireland, does my right hon. Friend not think it high time that we had a debate in the House about the effect of the Government of Ireland Act and the delegation of powers to the Northern Ireland Government?

[That this House regrets the convention which prevents hon. Members from questioning the Home Secretary on the activities of so-called Republican Clubs alleged to be carrying on illegal activities by the Northern Ireland Home Secretary; calls upon the Northern Ireland Home Secretary to produce evidence Justifying the banning of these organisations and asks him to take legal action against those individuals alleged to have committed offences or alternatively to revoke his decision; further expresses its concern at the growing arbitrariness of Government action in Northern Ireland; and calls upon Her Majesty's Government to take immediate action to ensure democratic government in the six counties.]

Mr. Crossman

I thank my hon. Friend for bringing my attention to the Motion, which I had seen. It appeared on the Order Paper only this morning and I should like an opportunity to refer it to my right hon. Friends. As for a debate, I agree that this might be discussed when we have our annual debate on Northern Ireland affairs.

Mr. Fortescue

When can the hon. Member promise the House a debate on immigration procedures, especially at our airports?

Mr. Crossman

I cannot make any promise for the first week after the Easter Adjournment.

Mr. Philip Noel-Baker

When are we likely to have a debate on Vietnam which, in view of recent developments, becomes more and more urgent?

Mr. Crossman

I think that it was in the last business statement that I said that I was hoping to have a debate on foreign affairs—this would include Vietnam—soon after the Adjournment, but I have to be a little careful in giving a firm promise because of our Budget time.

Mr. Carr

Will the Leader of the House promise a statement by the Secretary of State for Defence, immediately we return, about the question of the purchase of F111 aircraft? In view of the further most disturbing reports about the cost and performance of the aircraft, will he ask his right hon. Friend whether he can delay any confirmation of an order until a full report has been made?

Mr. Crossman

I will certainly communicate the right hon. Member's desire to my right hon. Friend on both points.

Mr. Winnick

When are we likely to have a debate on the Select Committee's recommendation on Standing Order No. 9?

Mr. Crossman

We are now preparing for another debate on procedure, one item of which would certainly be that Report. Another item would be the very important new Report on the Finance Bill.

Mr. Buck

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we have this week had a strongly worded protest from the doyen of the Diplomatic Corps about the treatment of one of his nationals? Does he not think it appropriate that a statement should be made today about this matter, or, at the latest, as soon as the House has resumed?

Mr. Crossman

I will certainly bring the matter to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary.

Mr. Pavitt

In view of the importance to the Commonwealth of democratic changes in the country of Sierra Leone, may I draw my right hon. Friend's attention to Motion No. 479 and ask for a debate on it?

[That this House congratulates Mr. Siaka Stevens on his appointment as Prime Minister of Sierra Leone; regrets the circumstances which have led to the imposition of martial law so soon after his success; and looks forward to the speedy return of normal conditions and the progress of a new government democratically elected.]

Mr. Crossman

I do not think that I can promise my hon. Friend that we shall have a debate in the first week after the Easter Adjournment, but certainly we will bear it in mind.

Mr. Braine

Will the right hon. Gentleman give an undertaking that immediately we resume after Easter he will make a statement setting out in detail the burden placed by the result of the morning sittings on the servants of the House—the doorkeepers, the police, the catering staff, the Official Reporters? Is he aware that in the last few weeks some doorkeepers have—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member is going into the merits of the matter when he should be asking for a debate.

Mr. Braine

On a point of order. The burden placed on the servants of the House is something dear to every hon. Member.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member must not misunderstand the Chair. The Chair is probably more sympathetic to the burden placed on the servants of the House at this moment than any other hon. Member. The hon. Member must ask for time for a debate.

Mr. Braine

May I press the Leader of the House to say whether he will make a statement giving in detail the hours that members of the staff of the House are expected to work and what relief he plans for them?

Mr. Crossman

As you said, Mr. Speaker, this matter of the burden on the servants of the House is important. I have called the attention of the House to it more than once. All members of the Services Committee, which has a responsibility to the House for this matter, are very much aware of this problem. Certainly, I can consult the Committee and present a report to the House if that is required.

Mr. Judd

How soon may we expect a debate on the overseas aid and development policies of the Government?

Mr. Crossman

As I said in answer to a previous question, we have the Budget ahead of us and the Finance Bill debates, and I do not think that we can expect that kind of subject to be debated for a week or two after our return from the Adjournment.

Mr. Hastings

Following the point made about the F111, is the Leader of the House aware that this vital decision must be taken before the House will meet again? If there is a question—as I hope there will be—of possible renegotiation of the contract, could he arrange to make a statement today before the House rises, after he has spoken to his right hon. Friend?

Mr. Crossman

I will certainly talk to my right hon. Friend about this, but I do not think it likely from what I know that he will find any further statement necessary, or that there is anything new to say. But I will certainly ask him.

Mr. McNamara

In view of the fact that the Pearson Committee on the Shipping Industry has reported, may I ask whether the Government intend to introduce a Bill, a merchant shipping Bill, this Session or next, and, if so, whether that Bill will cover fishermen, who have not yet had an inquiry into their terms and conditions of employment?

Mr. Crossman

That does not relate to business for the week after the Adjournment, but I will give my right hon. Friend a detailed answer if he asks me to do so.

Mr. Speaker

I remind the House that we are to have a statement and that all this is coming out of private Members' time.

Dr. Winstanley

May I draw attention to Motion 213, calling for a continuation of British Summer Time all the year round? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many people are hoping that last weekend they altered their clocks for the last time? Will the right hon. Gentleman provide an opportunity for discussion?

[That this House, recognising the success of the experimental extensions to the period of British Summer Time and that reversion to Greenwich Mean Time will unnecessarily hamper commercial communication with Europe, urges Her Majesty's Government to bring Great Britain into line with Europe by adopting British Summer Time, mid-European time, throughout the whole year.]

Mr. Crossman

I am aware of the hope, and aware that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has this seriously in mind, but I have no further statement to make about any decision to legislate.

Mrs. Anne Kerr

Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that there will be a two-day foreign affairs debate before the Budget is considered and that one day will be devoted to Vietnam?

Mr. Crossman

I cannot give that assurance, for the obvious reason that I have announced the business for the week when we return, and the Budget is in the following week.

Mr. Gwilym Roberts

In view of the uncertainty which is still prevailing in the motor industry, in which workers have been taken on, on the one hand, and laid off in large numbers, on the other, may I ask the Leader of the House, once again, to consider an early debate on this industry?

Mr. Crossman

I will certainly consider the possibility of a debate. I think that things have been improving a good deal in that industry recently, but there would not be a debate before our Budget discussions.

Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles

Will the right hon. Gentleman arrange for an early statement on the subject of the oil pollution of our coasts to be made by whoever is by then responsible?

Mr. Crossman

I am perfectly confident that my right hon. Friend will make a statement the moment there is further news and that he feels it to be urgent to make a statement to the House.