HC Deb 11 May 1967 vol 746 cc1723-82

Motion made, and Question proposed,

That this House, at its rising tomorrow, do adjourn till Wednesday, 31st May.— [Mr. Harper.]

4.18 p.m.

Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)

Mr. Speaker, before we adjourn, I think that the House is entitled to a statement from the Leader of the House about his intentions to allow us an opportunity to debate certain matters arising from articles in The Times and books concerning Suez. Fundamentally, there are three questions which are debatable. I should like to know from the Government whether we are to have a debate on all or any of these questions.

There is the question about the propriety of ex-Ministers of the Crown using knowledge which they acquired while in office to throw fresh light on decisions taken during their terms of office. It would be improper to debate the propriety or otherwise of this now, but there are two points which legitimately can be made.

First, if there is to be a ruling that Ministers should be debarred from doing this, it must apply to all Ministers, and we must not allow a custom to grow up by which very senior Ministers who want to defend or explain their own conduct are allowed a latitude which is not allowed to more junior Ministers. Second, for my own part, I take the view that when these matters have passed out of the immediate relevance of politics, it is all to the good in a democracy that, within reasonable limits, Ministers should be allowed to explain their points of view.

No doubt they sincerely held the points of view which they then upheld and, therefore, I cannot see that any damage is done by asking them at a future date to come forward and refute or argue with allegations made by Ministers who took different points of view. I cannot think that democracy will be helped by imposing for ever a cloak of secrecy over the ways in which very important decisions were entered upon.

Then there is the whole question of the Suez expedition. At one time, the Leader of the House was greatly concerned to have a full inquiry into how this lamentable expedition ever took place. It may be said if the House were now to begin to disinter this very unfortunate incident in British history it might do us harm in the eyes of the world, but greater harm will be done to us if we attempt to bury it for ever.

It is said in some quarters that President Nasser is always stirring up trouble in the Middle East, but it appears that other people nearer home were determined to have a show-down in the Middle East. It has been said by the French and by various historians of repute. It is useless for us to pretend——

Mr. Speaker

The right hon. Gentleman is straying from his own guide lines. He must not seek to debate the merits of what he wants the House to debate.

Mr. Grimond

I take your point, Mr. Speaker, and I shall not pursue the matter any further, except to say that I am entitled to refute the objections to having a debate on this by saying that I do not believe the objections made from a wider area of policy would be justified.

Rightly or wrongly—and, again, it is not my intention to debate the rights and wrongs of the matter—we imposed a very heavy penalty on Mr. Profumo for having misled the House. I agree that there are great differences between what he did and what it may be alleged other Ministers have done before him, but it is a matter for consideration by this House about how far we have a right to accept from all Members, whether Ministers or not, a degree of complete frankness with the House, and whether, if they fall from that degree of frankness, it is excusable because they can plead, and fairly so, that concealment was made in the public interest.

I would regret it if we were to embark on a vendetta against Ministers who were engaged in the Suez venture, but there is an important point of principle here, and an extra element is added to that point of principle by the behaviour of this House, for which we all take responsibility, in regard to Mr. Profumo.

Further, it seems that Mr. Nutting himself in some ways has been used as a scapegoat. He is not getting the credit, which to my mind he should be, for having been one of the few people to "come clean" over the whole incident. It has been suggested that he behaved improperly in not making a statement to the House when he resigned. We should know why he did not do that, whether there was anything improper in this conduct, and what advice he was offered.

Without going into the merits of the case, I think that it has certain important implications for the way we conduct our affairs. Before we rise for the Whit-sun Recess I think that we should hear from the Leader of the House whether it is proposed to have a debate on this matter, and if so, when, and what will be discussable. It has been rumoured that it is intended to hold a debate after the publication of Mr. Nutting's book, but I would be grateful, if it is his intention to enable us to have a debate, if the right hon. Gentleman would say whether in that debate all these matters will be discussable, whether the debate will be limited in content, and whether his undertaking to provide time for a debate is a firm one, or whether he is waiting for the general opinion of the House.

4.23 p.m.

Mr. Arthur Blenkinsop (South Shields)

I do not think that we should agree to this Motion without having some opportunity to express our view about the situation which arose recently in Greece, because, unhappily, in this House there has been no opportunity to do more than ask one or two brief Questions and to obtain some extremely brief replies. As we are facing a situation in which a member of N.A.T.O. has had its parliamentary Government overthrown by means of a military coup, possibly using equipment provided for N.A.T.O. by the United States, or conceivably even by us, it will seem fantastic if no expression of opinion is clearly given from this country.

Our anxieties are made all the greater because of news of the large number of people who have been detained. According to the latest information which I have, more than 6,000 people are being detained and interned on the Island of Yioura, and the memories which some hon. Members have of the islands used for detention off the coast of Greece give cause for great anxiety. It is therefore no light matter to us in this country that this sudden and brutal assertion of military power should have occurred.

I am concerned that there has been no statement from our Government, other than comments in another place. I am all the more concerned because certain other Governments have taken a different view. The Danish and Norwegian Governments have expressed their anxiety about the situation and have called for the restoration of constitutional Government in Greece.

At its meeting only a fortnight ago the Council of Europe, which was widely attended by representatives from Western European countries, unhesitatingly passed a resolution calling attention to the serious situation in Greece and calling also for an early restoration of constitutional Government. It called upon the Bureau of the Council of Europe to inquire about the safety of the delegates from Greece who normally attend Council meetings and who, quite suddenly, were prevented from attending only a day or two before the Assembly was due to meet.

I notice that at a recent N.A.T.O. meeting attempts were made to raise this matter, and that in the European Parliament of the Common Market countries, to which we hope shortly to become attached, the matter was vigorously debated and attention was called to the seriousness of the situation.

There are, of course, many individual cases to which reference has been made, and there have been Written Answers in this House in connection with Mrs. Betty Ambatielos.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member has the sympathy of Mr. Speaker in the issues which he is seeking to raise, but he cannot go into the detailed merits of the matter.

Mr. Blenkinsop

I was not wishing to go into too much detail, but merely to emphasise the gravity of the situation which, I submit, warrants some consideration before we agree to the Motion before us.

I hope that it will be possible for my right hon. Friend, or one of his colleagues, to make a statement today expressing the Government's view and saying what representations have been made on this matter to the authorities now in charge in Greece. I hope that my right hon. Friend will give us an assurance that there is no suggestion of recognising the new authority there until steps have been taken to restore constitutional Government.

All kinds of criticisms may be made of the situation in the past, but surely it is clear that we require from our Government a statement associating this country with the protests made by other countries and by assemblies of Parliamentarians elsewhere. I hope that my right hon. Friend or one of his colleagues will be able to do this in this House today.

4.28 p.m.

Mr. Anthony Royle (Richmond, Surrey)

I would like to ask the Leader of the House whether, before we rise, we are to have a statement about Stansted Airport. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is grave concern throughout the London area, and indeed throughout the country, about where this new airport may be sited and whether Stansted will be chosen? There is grave concern not only in Essex and around Stansted itself, but in other constituencies in the London area, including my own, which suffer from aircraft noise along the glide path into Heathrow.

Hon. Members on both sides of the House have been concerned to read in today's Evening Standard what appears to be a major leak—yet another major one from this Administration—which says that the Government are going to announce the establishment of this airport at Stansted, but presumably as they are not doing so today they will announce it tomorrow morning. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not behave in such a dishonourable way as to tuck this statement in tomorrow morning, when he knows that most hon. Members will have returned to their constituencies.

I hope that the Leader of the House can say something about this today. The reason why such widespread concern exists on the question of siting the airport at Stansted is that the suggestion has been put forward of an alternative site in the estuary, clear of London and London's built-up area. It is the view of most Londoners, both in the centre and on the outskirts, that before we rise for the Recess the Government should announce to the House, at a time when Members will be present in large numbers, the fact that this airport should not be at Stansted but—taking a longer view—in the estuary.

By building this new airport in the estuary we shall remove the heavy buildup of aircraft noise which is bound to take place over the next few years as the result of siting the new airport at Stansted.

I am sure that the Leader of the House is well aware of the aircraft noise which has to be borne by Londoners living under the glide path. Not only in my constituency of Richmond but in other constituencies around London this noise is becoming intolerable. Life will be made hell for those living under the glide path, and where so many hundreds of thousands of people are involved the Leader of the House should arrange for a statement to be made on this important matter and not tuck it away tomorrow morning—I see the Leader of the House nodding; I have a feeling that that is what he intends to do. He should not tuck it away on a day when there will be few Members here. Therefore, the announcement should be made either after we return from the Recess or this afternoon.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Sydney Irving)

Mr. Francis Noel-Baker.

4.33 p.m.

Mr. Philip Noel-Baker (Derby, South)

I venture to revert——

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I apologise to the right hon. Gentleman. Mr. Philip Noel-Baker.

Mr. John Boyd-Carpenter (Kingston-upon-Thames)

Was that misunderstanding due to the right hon. Gentleman's youthful appearance, Mr. Deputy Speaker?

Mr. Noel-Baker

Realising that the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. Francis Noel-Baker) was not here, I ventured to accept your invitation to address the House.

I want to revert to the statement made by the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond). I venture briefly to support his contention that we should have a pledge from the Lord President of the Council that we shall shortly have a debate on the revelations made by Mr. Nutting, and the reports in The Times—to both of whom the House should be very grateful. I do not seek to argue the merits of the question, but I am sure that we should debate all three aspects of the events of 1956 and what followed—to which the right hon. Gentleman referred.

I consider this question to be of the highest importance to all parties in the House. I remember that after 1956 it seemed not only to me but to many other hon. Members that the work of the House was being poisoned by the fact that we could not rely on what we were being told from the Government Front Bench. It strikes at the very root of democracy if the House of Commons cannot rely on securing straightforward answers to questions and arguments which may be put.

It is vitally important for a second reason. The real point at issue in 1956 was the sanctity of the Charter of the United Nations. No right hon. Gentleman on either Front Bench would venture to contest the view that the survival of mankind depends, in the long run, on the integrity of the Charter. The events at Suez, ten years ago, were followed by many similar events in other parts of the world which have undermined the integrity of the new law which the nations have created. For those reasons, I hope that the Lord President will do what the right hon. Gentleman has asked.

4.36 p.m.

Sir Douglas Glover (Ormskirk)

I do not think that the House should rise for the Whitsun Recess without being given an authoritative statement from the Lord President, or the appropriate Minister, on the subject of Stansted Airport. I do not raise this matter because I have a personal constituency interest, but I suffer the same as anybody else who lives in London from the noise of aircraft flying overhead—although I am so conditioned to it now that at night I wake up if aircraft stop flying over.

The House will be treated with contempt if this inspired leak in the Evening Standard tonight is confirmed tomorrow, when it is too late for many Members of the House to ask pertinent questions of the Minister. If the announcement is to be made tomorrow the question will have died and become old news by the time we return. Hon. Members with constituency interests have not only a right but a duty to raise the matter, and to pursue it—because it is a very controversial question.

I say to the right hon. Gentleman, in a very friendly manner—at the moment— that unless we have some assurance of a debate which is unlimited, I am prepared to break the record for a long speech, held by the hon. Member for the Western Isles (Mr. Malcolm MacMillan). The right hon. Gentleman should realise that this is the sort of issue he is facing. There are many matters that we can raise in this connection, and he had better arrange for a statement to be made or give the promise of a statement before the rising of the House tonight.

Another point that I want to raise concerns the report in The Times that a Mr. Wilson, a native of Derby, is apparently to be deported from Guyana. I thought that the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. Philip Noel-Baker) intended to raise this point. I do not want to go into the rights and wrongs of Mr. Wilson's deportation. I understand that it was made under a law just passed in that country, which gives Guyana the right to deport British subjects.

What is far more important is the fact that this gentleman settled in that country and married an Amerindian woman—one of the natives of that country—and by "native" I mean one of the original inhabitants who were overrun by Indian and Negro tribes. His wife was one of the original, uneducated elements from the centre of the country. Mr. Wilson married this lady because he wanted to spend his life with this community and help it raise its standards, and also to find out something about it.

Although this gentleman is to be deported, I understand that his wife is not to be allowed to come with him. I would have thought that the right hon. Member for Derby, South, who raised the question of the United Nations, would agree that this case involves the question of human rights and the freedom of the individual, and was a matter in respect of which the House should hear from the Commonwealth Secretary as to what is being done to protect this gentleman and his wife, because action will presumably need to be taken quickly.

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

I am sorry, but I did not catch the name of the gentleman to whom the hon. Gentleman was referring.

Sir D. Glover

He is a Mr. Wilson, of Guyana. I did not think that I would need to repeat his name. I am sure that there will not be any confusion about which Mr. Wilson I am referring to. I do not raise this subject in a hostile way, but I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will try to arrange for a report to be given to the House before we rise, because by the time we return the question will have passed out of our control.

I do not know about my Front Bench——

Mr. Anthony Barber (Altrincham and Sale)

I am not sure that I know about my back bench.

Sir D. Glover

I do not know whether my right hon. Friend will have a view on this matter. I do not know about my Front Bench, since it has been generous today with the Foreign Secretary over the question of a statement about Southern Arabia. Knowing how rapidly events move, I should have thought that we needed a much clearer statement of policy before we rose.

I have always appreciated the difficulties of those holding of high offices of state, and there are two other aspects of the problem which the right hon. Gentleman appreciates. Although we may be critics in the House, we also have a responsibility to be informed in the country. The House is to rise until 31st May. The public have read about the proposed changes, together with hints of alterations of policy and perhaps a greater emphasis on delay—all implications in the Foreign Secretary's statement—but not a single hon. Member could help the public in the Recess in informing public opinion about Government policy in the South Arabian Federation——

Mr. David Winnick (Croydon, South)

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the best news possible about Aden would be that the South Arabian Federation will be finished completely?

Sir D. Glover

It is most helpful of the hon. Gentleman to intervene. I am sure that that is what he wishes. But, judging from what the Foreign Secretary said this afternoon, I am sure that it is not what he will do. I should therefore mislead the public if I used the hon. Gentleman's helpful advice and said that this was the Government's intention. I do not think that it is. Therefore, the House and hon. Members need a great deal more information before we rise.

We also need more information about our procedure. The right hon. Gentleman has tried many innovations, but the mood of the House seems to be much less enthusiastic for some than when they were instituted. Will they run on to the end of the next Session—if we know that we can make our plans on that basis—or will the right hon. Gentleman, after three weeks' consideration, bring in alterations? In other words, are Monday morning sittings to continue to the end of the summer, or will they be done away with, since the right hon. Gentleman admitted in our last debate that they cause trouble not only to hon. Members but also, perhaps more, to the staff of the House?

It is no use me and 629 other hon. Members going around our constituencies deciding that we should like to raise a subject on the Adjournment on Monday mornings if there are to be no sittings then. It would be helpful to know. On many of these things, the right hon. Gentleman could give the House more information. After a very unsatisfactory debate on our procedure, we should have a very important one at an early date to consider proposals—

Mr. Eric Lubbock (Orpington)

While he is on this very important question of the reform of our procedure, would the hon. Gentleman care to say anything about shorter speeches?

Sir D. Glover

I should be only too happy to make a speech on that subject, because that would enable me——

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. It would be out of order.

Sir D. Glover

It might be thought to be in order, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to have a debate on shorter speeches before the House rises, so that when we return we would know that we should not make longer speeches than the length we discussed before we rose. When the Liberal Chief Whip so helpfully raised this matter, I thought that if the same principle had applied during the recent debate on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, two-thirds of the information which the Prime Minister gave would have been barred and restricted——

Dr. M. P. Winstanley (Cheadle)

Would the hon. Gentleman not agree that it is not how long speeches are which counts but how long they seem to be?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. Interventions prolong speeches, and a large number of hon. Members still want to speak. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will relate his remarks to the Motion.

Sir D. Glover

I will do so, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Hon. Members opposite probably were not present when I told the Leader of the House that the House was entitled to a very important statement. I am only using the proper procedure to try to get the right hon. Gentleman to do that. I hold him what powers a back bencher has and they are very limited today. The right hon. Gentleman is not exactly trying to extend them. I will not carry this any further, because I am basically kind-hearted, and have made something of a demonstration.

I believe that, despite some of his unpopularity as Leader of the House, the right hon. Gentleman genuinely desires to serve it and he has an absolute duty. If there is an announcement about Stansted, it should be made to hon. Members, not at a late hour tomorrow when the House is empty, but today, when many hon. Members can ask proper questions about it.

4.47 p.m.

Mr. Charles Pannell (Leeds, West)

I wish to return to the question raised by the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), because I thought that he misunderstood it. It is not fair to relate anything said by Ministers at the time of Suez to a statement made by Mr. Profumo. It has nothing to do with it. If this is to be brought into the debate, I hope that the Speaker will look at Mr. Profumo's statement again.

The explanation is that I had always understood that personal statements were personal statements, but there were grave doubts about that one. It was edited by the Prime Minister of the time, and delivered to Mr. Speaker by the Patronage Secretary of the time, which, in effect, was out of order, and ought to be regularised. There is a personal responsibility on a Minister and a Speaker.

I thought that the late Speaker, as I told him, was mistaken in the course which he followed. Consequently, if there is any debate about statements made in good faith from that Box, it ought not to be confused with the Profumo statement, which——

Mr. Lubbock rose——

Mr. Pannell

I am sorry, I cannot give way. I am on something which I know something about; I want to be careful about this, because I raised a point of order at the time.

When hon. Members make a personal statement, they ask Mr. Speaker about it and submit the statement to him, and he knows what is in it. The Member puts his hand on the Box and cannot depart from it. There is no doubt that there were improper matters in that statement, which reflected on other hon. Members and which were held to be improper afterwards. There was a serious dereliction of duty by the Speaker of the time in admitting the statement. In any case, the statement——

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

On a point of order. Is it in order for the right hon. Gentleman, as he has just done, to accuse a previous occupant of the Chair of a serious dereliction of duty? I had always understood that criticisms of present or former occupants of the Chair could be put forward only by a substantive Motion.

Mr. Pannell

I have carefully thought about this; and, in any case, there was no——

Hon. Members


Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. This is a difficult matter. I do not think that a former occupant of the Chair is protected in the way that a present occupant of the Chair is. The right hon. Gentleman, of course, is responsible for any statements he makes to the House and would naturally, I expect, take care about what he says.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I am obliged to you for that Ruling, Mr. Speaker, and, of course, I accept it. However, has it not been the practice of this House to treat with great care and respect the reputations of former occupants of the Chair who are no longer here to answer for themselves? Is it not contrary, at any rate to the general sense of the House, for, above all, a right hon. Gentleman to make a criticism of a former Speaker who now, alas, is in no position to defend his own honour and reputation?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The Chair can deal only with matters of strict order and with matters as they arise. I endeavoured to convey my feeling to the right hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) that he should take care; but I must say emphatically that the right hon. Member for Leeds, West is responsible for any statements which he makes.

Mr. Pannell

I am as fastidious in my treatment of the Chair as any hon. Member. I know the rule. It is that the antecedents of the present Speaker must never be referred to, however lurid they may be. If the right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) has any feelings on this subject, he will know that if one considers the history of Speakers of the House, it is at the time of their death that history begins.

I am merely trying to make the point that what was done at that time should, in my view, not have been done. The idea of having a Select Committee to go into those matters was resisted by Conservative hon. Members at the time. They therefore cannot complain now if I use this opportunity to raise the matter. Indeed, I was making the point on behalf of the right hon. Gentleman's side that one must draw a sharp line between a statement deliberately made to the House, which is under protection, and something which an hon. Member may say in good faith when he comes to the Dispatch Box, but which is afterwards held to be untrue.

I want to make it perfectly clear—and in doing so I am not calling for an early debate on Suez—that it was a great national humiliation and that when the Leader of the House considers this matter he would be well advised to stick to his original opinion, which was that Mr. Nutting's book should be published in full before he decides whether to have a debate. After 10 years, a Suez debate is not something that can go off half-cock. We want all the information. It is a serious matter indeed. Only when people like the right hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) can read it all, and take it in its context, will they be able to come to the Dispatch Box prepared to meet it. There may be a time to debate Suez——

Mr. Raymond Fletcher (Ilkeston)

Such as now.

Mr. Pannell

I believe that my hon. Friend wrote a review of another book.

Mr. Raymond Fletcher

I saw the uncorrected proof copy.

Mr. Pannell

But I have not. My hon. Friend is a great authority on this subject, but he must allow me to read the darned thing for myself.

Mr. Raymond Fletcher

My right hon. Friend can do so at any time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Member for Ilkeston (Mr. Raymond Fletcher) must not make interventions from a sedentary position. If he wishes to catch my eye he should attempt to do so in the usual way, when notice may be taken of him.

Mr. Pannell

I would take as true anything said by my hon. Friend the Member for Ilkeston——

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Not while he is sitting down.

Mr. Pannell

Like Stanley Baldwin, one must occasionally reflect on the many-sidedness of truth. I am making the point that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House should stick to his previous opinion, which was that we should have all the information we can possibly get before we debate the quesion of Suez.

I strongly reinforce the view that, in my opinion, there has been a great deal of selectivity in Establishment channels about who they allow to reproduce certain stuff. Undoubtedly, Sir Winston Churchill was allowed a most favoured position in the keeping of all sorts of things. So was Sir Anthony Eden, but I will not go into that now. The present Government might very well consider introducing rules that would protect them and others before them so that we may have something like impartiality on this issue.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The right hon. Gentleman is going much too far into the merits of the case on a Motion about the Adjournment of the House for the Whitsuntide Recess.

Mr. Pannell

I apologise, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but one cannot be expected to look over one's shoulder to know in which way Mr. Speaker ruled when the right hon. Gentleman was on his feet. I am endeavouring to stick closely to matters that have been raised during the debate. I have not wandered beyond Mr. Speaker's Ruling, though I bow to your Ruling, of course, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

I merely wish to fortify this point, because there has been a great deal of partiality. I can recall the fine which was inflicted on the son of George Lansbury for the harmless reporting of an innocuous Cabinet matter. Hon. Gentlemen opposite have taken many opportunities with the Establishment when they have been out of office— [Interruption.]—but I will leave the matter there for now.

I mention these points because we are concerned about history. I do not believe that they are matters which should prevent the rising of the House for the Whitsun Recess. I want to make that perfectly clear. They are matters which can be safely left with the Leader of the House. I hope that I am in order in saying that the sort of propaganda that is put out about the Leader of the House—that he is unpopular in the House, that he lacks support from my hon. Friends, or that the friendship we feel towards him is palpably untrue—does no good at all.

Mr. Deputy Speaker


Mr. Pannell

The matter has been raised in the other direction. I hope that I am in order in considering the affirmative side of the argument.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I do not wish to restrict the right hon. Gentleman, but he must confine his remarks to the Motion. If he will relate them to the Motion I will be happy to hear them.

Mr. Pannell

The right hon. Gentleman as good as said that we should not rise for Whitsun while the present Leader of the House holds that office. I want to keep him. I do not want to throw him away. Normally speaking, every other Leader of the House has never wanted to do anything at all. This man is simply bursting over to do things—and, of course, occasionally some of his ideas will not come off.

In an old building like this, a place which is encrusted with 1,000 years of history, new hon. Members want to alter things the first Session they are here. After that, the place seems to become increasingly rational. It becomes more rational as they get older. There is a great surge of opinion behind the present Leader of the House in attempting to alter our procedures. Those alterations are bound not to suit everybody, such as the Member who wants a career and to be in this place. I am merely saying that my right hon. Friend should not lose any sleep during the Whitsun Recess and that he can rest assured that the right hon. Member for Leeds, West has confidence in him.

4.48 p.m.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter (Kingston-upon-Thames)

I do not want, particularly on the eve of the Whitsun Recess, to quarrel with the right hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell). I hope, however, that he will reflect during the Recess on what he said about our late Speaker. You ruled, Mr. Deputy Speaker—if I may say so, you ruled, as always, absolutely rightly—that although in order, that kind of statement was made on the right hon. Gentleman's own responsibility. He was, therefore, entitled, if he took the responsibility, to say what he said.

On the other hand, to take the responsibility of charging our former Speaker, who was a friend of many of us, who is no longer here to speak for himself, but whose family is, happily, still about the place, and to accuse him of a serious dereliction of duty, is a point made in my presence which I must severely rebut. Without wishing to enter into the controversies of those days, I do not believe that our then Speaker, or any Speaker, has been guilty of a serious dereliction of duty. I hope that the right hon. Member for Leeds, West will use the Recess to reflect on what he said. He is a fair-minded man, and I know that if he comes to the conclusion that the words he used were not fair he will withdraw them. I hope that he will.

As for a debate on Suez, I hope that if we have one it will be a wide one concerned not only with the Government of the day but with the Opposition of the day. I hope that it will enable us to inquire into why it was that the then Leader of the Opposition, having made a highly responsible speech on 2nd August—in which he said that Nasser should not be allowed to get away with it—then changed his front. Inquiries might be interesting into the pressures that might have been applied to him.

Equally, the conduct——

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The right hon. Gentleman will recall that I asked the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) to relate his remarks to the Motion on the Order Paper. I would be very glad if the right hon. Gentleman, too, would do that.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I am very conscious of that need, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but if I understand the reasoning it is that if we adjourn now we forfeit a fortnight or so of the time in which we could have a debate on Suez, and some hon. Members want a debate on Suez. I was only concerned, in relation to that enthusiastic desire, that the debate should be sufficiently wide in scope to enable all the relevant facts affecting all the parties concerned to be fully adumbrated.

As quite serious things have been said about some of my right hon. Friends, I think that it is at least within the confines of your Ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that I should be allowed to point out that there are others whose conduct at that time could be called in question. There is the attitude of the then Opposition, while our troops were actually engaged in operations, seeking, contrary to all tradition, to raise the most appalling hoohah in this House. All I say, and I will pass from this——

Mr. Philip Noel-Baker (Derby, South) rose——

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

In deference to your Ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker.—[HON. MEMBERS: "Give way!"]

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) has indicated that he will give way in a moment.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Yes. I always do give way to the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker), but I prefer to do so at the end of what I am saying at the moment.

My only point is that if there is to be such a debate it should be completely comprehensive and cover all the issues. In deference to your Ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I shall now leave that subject, with the one escape clause—unless I am incited by the right hon. Gentleman to whom I now give way.

Mr. Philip Noel-Baker

I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. He will no doubt recall that from 2nd August onwards the then Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Hugh Gaitskell, repeatedly warned the Government that they must not use force in the Suez dispute without the approval and sanction of the United Nations; and that when the then Government violated the Charter of the United Nations we had to stand by the warnings we had given; and that the country and the world supported us and not them.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. In all fairness, I should allow the right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames to reply—but a short reply.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

My short reply is that if this be so the right hon. Gentleman, who is among those who support the request for a debate on this subject, can make a speech in that debate and explain what the then Leader of the Opposition meant when, on 2nd August, he said that Nasser must not be allowed to get away with it. However, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I think that I, too, have got away with it as far as I can, and I retreat at least to the outer perimeter of the rules of order.

It is obvious that none of us should go away on what is, in many ways, the most agreeable of all the Recesses without some serious factors being weighed, and I must put it to the Leader of the House that if we do not go away for a Recess of this very considerable length there is one wrong on which we could use the time in putting right.

The right hon. Gentleman will recall that but for the action of the Government local government electors in the boroughs of London would today be voting in local government elections. Even the right hon. Gentleman in his most sanguine mood can not now have the slighest doubt about what the result of such elections would have been. When the Government put through the legislation which denied to these boroughs of London, alone in the country, the right that they had under previous law today to change councillors whose mandate had expired, we were told, "Well, they probably will not want to change them anyhow."

The right hon. Gentleman cannot say that now in the face of the G.L.C. elections, and in the face of the borough elections throughout the country, where Labour councillors have been ejected with almost monotonous rapidity and regularity. What we know now, though we did not know it then—though some of suspected—is that what the Government were doing was to foist on the London Boroughs, by selective and discriminatory action as compared with the rest of the country, local councils they do not want.

The right hon. Gentleman could repeal that legislation. He could not allow an election today, but if we came back next week and he repealed that legislation he could have elections in June, which is soon enough. He is now in a position, if he chooses, to extricate the Government from the very undemocratic position of imposing on the electors local government that they have shown they do not want. And with all respect to hon Members opposite, who show great unhappiness about events in Greece, about which we can do little, we can do a lot to ensure the return of democracy in London.

I ask the right hon. Gentleman why we are not having legislation to put right that wrong——

Mr. Lubbock

How many people in Enfield are in detention without trial?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will ask my right hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod), or perhaps he would like to address his question to the Home Secretary, who is responsible for that state of affairs in London. I understand, naturally, how a Liberal Chief Whip can never be affected by questions of prac- ticability, but if the hon. Gentleman were in touch with reality he would grasp the simple proposition that there is, unhappily, very little we can do about the state of affairs in Greece, but we could give London its elections by a decision of this House——

Mr. Grimond

I know the right hon. Gentleman's passionate interest in reality, but does he really think that the Leader of the House would do what he says?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

One of the fascinating things in my long experience of the Leader of the House is that one can never anticipate what he will do, but one has the knowledge that one shares that happy ignorance with the right hon. Gentleman himself.

Mr. Crossman

I take it that the right hon. Gentleman is now saying that he is in a state of extreme hopefulness about my reply on the London Government Act.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I only say that the Leader of the House will know that there is more joy in Heaven over one sinner that repenteth than over many of us Tories who need no repentance, and although the right hon. Gentleman has done 20 years and many wrong things in this House, there is still hope that he will reform. He has a chance this afternoon.

One of my hon. Friends asked whether the right hon. Gentleman could use this Recess in connection with his far-reaching reforms of procedure—that streamlining of our procedure, proposals for which flow on to the Order Paper without even the clerks being consulted to find out whether they will be available to implement them. When we come back, are we still to go on with this ludicrous business of concluding the main business of the House on Mondays and Wednesdays at half-past nine, or is that state of things to be put right? Are we to go on with the farce of Monday morning and Wednesday morning sittings, or does the right hon. Gentleman intend to put that right, too.

Do the terms of the Motion for a long Whitsun Recess bear some relation to the fact that the Leader of the House knows that he is to exercise his newly acquired powers to guillotine the Finance Bill? Does he feel able so confidently to send us away for this longer period because he knows that he now has the power, never taken since the war, to guillotine the annual Finance Bill? Can he tell us whether, when we come back, the Finance Bill will be guillotined?

We were told by the Minister of Health on Monday, when under some pressure, that he would have discussions with the chairman and managers of St. Teresa's Hospital at Wimbledon—I hope with a view to finding a solution of that unhappy state of affairs and retrieving the crude and clumsy error of the Hospital Board. Can we be told that when we come back the Minister of Health will be able to make a statement about this matter? People care about this hospital. In view of the previous attitude of the Minister, and the even worse attitude of the Chairman of the Regional Hospital Board, some of us are not happy about going away and so leaving time running against this hospital. The Minister gave us some hope on Monday. Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us, whatever the result of these discussions, that the Minister will be prepared to make a statement on our return?

Finally—and this concerns all of us in London—there is the question of Stansted. When are we to have a statement on Stansted? We know that there are leaks saying that it is ready. Ministers in charge of Aviation have a bad reputation for making statements on the verge of a Recess. If it is impossible for the statement to be made tomorrow, will there be time given for a debate on this matter after the Recess?

5.10 p.m.

Mr. J. J. Mendelson (Penistone)

I would not under-estimate some of the important national or local issues which have been raised by the right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter), but I rather regretted in his speech a note of indifference to some affairs which have occurred rather further away. I thought this quite unnecessary, because many things which have happened far away may in their consequences be of far more importance to the people of this country than some domestic matters. Knowing the general outlook of the right hon. Gentleman, I was rather surprised that he allowed him- self that expression of indifference, particularly to the tragic events in Greece.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

If I gave that impression, it was certainly not my intention. I said that those events were unhappy but there was little we could do about them. I would not construe that as indifference, but if I gave that impression to the hon. Member, I assure him that I did not mean to do so.

Mr. Mendelson

In the opinion of all hon. Members, wherever they sit in the House, it is important to endeavour not to give an impression of that kind to our comrades-in-arms and friends in Greece. Therefore, I wish to reinforce what my hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Blenkinsop) said when he asked that the Leader of the House, speaking on behalf of the Government, will tell us what representations the Government, have made in Athens concerning the very serious events which have taken place there recently.

This is all the more necessary because it has been reliably reported that there were two aspects of the recent military coup which concerns us directly as members of the N.A.T.O. Alliance. The first aspect, which has been very widely reported, is that the arms used to occupy all the central positions in Athens when the coup took place were arms supplied under the N.A.T.O. Treaty. That was not the original purpose for which those arms were supplied. Secondly, and equally important, it is said that the actual plan which was used and worked with such precision was a plan worked out under N.A.T.O. authority against foreign aggression.

It is reported that the King himself and many officers senior to those who organised the coup with such efficiency were caught in it because they thought that an international crisis had arisen and that under the Alliance arrangements they ought to fall in with what was being done. Only at a very late stage did some of those senior officers realise that this plan had been used to overturn the internal constitution of Greece. This is a matter which concerns the Government very directly as a member of the N.A.T.O. Alliance.

We hear a great deal, particularly in general debates, about the main purpose of the Alliance being to secure our own security, the security of our allies and, above all, of democracy. That is always the argument put forward when decisions in the N.A.T.O. Alliance are discussed. In many newspapers I find a complete indifference to the overturn of democracy in Greece. Many people are only a little concerned about this matter when it is raised by some of my hon. Friends. The position there has been raised officially by the Danish Government and by other Governments.

To be fair to the Government, it has been reported that at the very beginning the American Ambassador and the British Ambassador intervened and had an early interview with the new civilian Prime Minister who has been put in office by the military. It was reported that the American Ambassador adopted a very soft attitude to the events while the attitude of Her Majesty's Ambassador was fairly rigid and was critical. I was glad to see this report and I should like it to be confirmed by my right hon. Friend, because since then there has been another report on the official Greek radio in Athens which gave a completely different outline of the interview.

That report said that the British Ambassador had seen the new Prime Minister and assured him that Britain fully understood what had taken place and more or less accepted it in those terms. I should be glad if my right hon. Friend could deny that account of the attitude adopted by our Ambassador. Does the hon. Member for Shrewsbury (Sir J. Langford-Holt) wish to intervene?

Sir John Langford-Holt (Shrewsbury)

I do not expect that the Leader of the House would give an answer of that sort in reply to the debate on this Motion.

Mr. Mendelson

I have been here since the beginning of this debate and I have heard all the Rulings given from the Chair. It is not for an hon. Member who has just walked in from the outer regions to rule over us as an extra Deputy Speaker.

I should be very glad if my right hon. Friend, on behalf of the Government, could deny this very serious report, which I hope misrepresents the attitude adopted by our Ambassador.

I turn to the only other matter I wish to raise. It concerns what is happening in a region even further away, but one which may have even more serious consequences on the future and fortunes of the people of this country. That is the ever-increasing escalation of the war in Vietnam. This subject has not been mentioned this afternoon. I introduce it by saying that some of the events which the Prime Minister and the Government in general have always regarded as most dangerous and most likely to lead to involvement of other Powers and, therefore, to the danger of a new world war, are now taking place daily in Vietnam. They are taking place as a result of a major decision by the Administration in Washington.

It is reliably reported from Washington that the decision is to escalate further the bombing and step it up in the next few weeks. This is directly linked with this Motion, because it is absolutely clear that while we are in Recess these matters might come to a head and we shall have no opportunity whatever of questioning Ministers and no opportunity of bringing the opinion of the House of Commons on these matters to bear on the action of the Government.

It has also been announced that during the Recess, I believe on 19th May, the Foreign Secretary will be arriving in Moscow on a diplomatic visit and that he will have discussions with the Soviet Government. This would be a useful opportunity for him to discuss these matters. If we were in Session we could immediately ask for a statement on his return from Moscow. We shall not be able to do so and, therefore, this is the last opportunity for any hon. Member to raise these matters with a Government spokesman. The decision which was recently taken by the United States Administration concerns the bombing of North Vietnam. The decision has been taken to bomb Hanoi and Haiphong. It is proposed to step up these bombing operations in the next few weeks whilst the House is in Recess. I have here a report published in the New York Times this morning. I want to quote only this one sentence from it: Navy carrier jets bombed inside the City of Haiphong today in the second such attack of the Vietnam war. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, on an important occasion, speaking from the Dispatch Box, said in reply to a Question that the Government were wholly opposed to the extension of the bombing operations against main population centres in North Vietnam or anywhere in Vietnam.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is getting at the merits of the subject rather than the reasons for adjourning or not adjourning, which is the Motion on the Order Paper. I must ask the hon. Gentleman to relate his remarks to the Motion.

Mr. Mendelson

I accept your Ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I think that I have so far not introduced any more subject matter than other hon. Members have introduced on many other subjects. I will hasten to put myself in order by saying that this is the second time this operation has taken place. It will be continued in the next few weeks. If these attacks multiply on the main population centres, a policy to which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has committed the Government will be violated, and this is the last opportunity that I have to urge the Government to reaffirm the statement made by my right hon. Friend that the British Government are totally opposed to the bombing of main population centres in Vietnam.

There is a further escalation which it is expected will occur in the next few weeks. [Interruption.] I cannot understand the mutterings of the hon. Member for Shrewsbury (Sir J. Langford-Holt) when I am discussing a matter of such importance, because if a world war were to break out over Vietnam his constituents would be as much involved as mine.

Sir J. Langford-Holt

I was merely trying to ascertain whether the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friend intend to vote against the Motion. If they do, I shall support them.

Mr. Mendelson

I ought to have known that it would be a frivolous intervention. I return to the main point. The other major escalation which is foreshadowed in the next few weeks concerns the sending of a further 60,000 American troops to Vietnam. It has recently been reliably reported that the Soviet Ambassador has made a démarche in Washington in which he said, on behalf of the Soviet Government, that if this were to take place there would be a very large increase in the amount of military equipment and other matters supplied by the Soviet Union to Vietnam.

Therefore we are facing over the next few weeks perhaps the gravest development of the war in Vietnam that we have yet had to face. It will be precisely at a time when the House is not in Session. I ask my right hon. Friend to tell the House whether the Government are making any representations in Washington for the Americans to think again before they make this further large commitment to escalate the war in Vietnam. After all, it is the policy of Her Majesty's Government to be against the further escalation of the war. Whatever disagreement any of my hon. Friends or I myself might have had with the Prime Minister or with other members of the Government in our attitude towards the war in Vietnam, we have always been in complete agreement on one point—that we are opposed to the further escalation of the war. This has been confirmed time and again by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. What is more, I know that my right hon. Friend has in the past, in many ways and in co-operation with many other Governments, worked very hard to avoid further escalation.

In conclusion, I ask my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House whether he can tell the House anything about the intentions of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary on his visit to Moscow, whether he intends to take up again with the Soviet Union, because of the growing dangers of this situation, the possibility of a new initiative. I would not expect my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House to disclose any details of such an initiative, but perhaps he could indicate in general terms whether the Government are determined to start a new initiative with the co-Chairman of the Geneva Conference—the Soviet Union; because we must realise that, if indeed escalation proceeds and other powers, first indirectly and then on a larger scale——

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I think that the hon. Gentleman was correct in saying that a certain amount of latitude has been allowed in the debate, but I really think that he has exhausted the limits of the latitude offered to other right hon. and hon. Members. He must now come to the point.

Mr. Mendelson

Mr. Deputy Speaker, we are all of us near the borderline at times. I go back to within the confines of the Motion. The point I was coming to is directly on the Motion. Would my right hon. Friend give us an assurance that if the further escalation does begin to take place and if there are dangerous developments over the next three weeks, he will advise the Prime Minister to have the House of Commons recalled?

This is the point of the debate. We have the right to demand an assurance before we adjourn that if certain eventualities that we are afraid of do occur the House should be recalled. It is very important to have the reply by the Minister concerned on record before we agree to pass the Motion. On this occasion, tragically, the dangers are even greater than they were when the House last went into Recess, because it is clear that if there is a further intervention with more troops by the United States there is a very great danger of two other major Powers becoming more involved, first indirectly and then more directly. Then we may be facing a development in which the play of alliances in which we are involved would directly concern the people of this country. On these grounds, I hope that my right hon. Friend will be able to tell us in some detail what the Government are doing.

Sir D. Glover

If the hon. Gentleman does not get a satisfactory reply from the Leader of the House, would he like any help in the Division Lobbies?

Mr. Mendelson

I am addressing myself to the Leader of the House on a very serious matter. I am concerned to know what the Government are doing about it. I am not concerned about trifling interventions.

5.27 p.m.

Mr. John Biggs-Davison (Chigwell)

Other hon. Members wish to speak, so I shall try to be careful not to offend, Mr. Deputy Speaker, either as to latitude, to which you have just referred, or as to longitude.

I do not agree entirely with the views of the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) on Vietnam, but I agree with him that we should have the assurances for which he has asked from the Leader of the House. If it is required, I shall be happy, as I believe some of my hon. Friends will be, to be with the hon. Gentleman in the Division Lobby.

I personally should also welcome any discussion which may be held upon the subject of Suez, although the line which I took on that matter was diametrically opposed to that taken by right hon. and hon. Members who have so far mentioned the topic of Mr. Nutting's book in the House this afternoon. I think that this subject would make a very interesting debate. I think that my right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) was absolutely right to say that many interesting matters would be brought out, which would reflect, not so much on the Conservative Government of the time, but upon Opposition Members at that date. I should be very glad to give the hon. Member, for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) something to put into his next book on the subject. I remember that I was extremely flattered, as a young Member, that I should have been mentioned in his book, but I do not think that the weight of guilt has been very heavy on my conscience.

However, the right hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) was right in suggesting that perhaps we should wait for the appearance of Mr. Nutting's book in full, because there are many gaps and I, for one, should be glad to know exactly why and when Mr. Nutting changed his views about President Nasser.

The hon. Member for Penistone and other hon. Members who have spoken mentioned the people who are detained in Greece. My hon. Friend the Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover) mentioned Mr. Wilson, of Guyana. The House is always deeply concerned for the protection of the rights, liberties and property of Her Majesty's subjects wherever they may be.

Last Thursday, I gave notice to the Leader of the House that I might be disposed to oppose this Motion until we heard more from the Government about the plight of British subjects and Commonwealth citizens, for whose protection Her Majesty's Government are responsible, who are detained in Zambia and elsewhere in Africa. There are seven of them, I believe, though the score may have gone up since we last had news. I shall not discuss the merits of their cases. I do not know why they have been detained. In passing, I must say that it was regrettable that Her Majesty's High Commission in Lusaka failed to extend to a British subject who happened to be a Rhodesian the same assistance as was extended to other British subjects, but the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs explained today that that matter has been put right, and I am grateful.

We understand that these unfortunate people are to be put before a tribunal. I wish to say nothing in this House disrespectful to the judiciary of Zambia. On the other hand, when we learn today that an able and honourable British journalist, Mr. John Monks, of the Daily Express, has been deported from Zambia and will, therefore, no longer be able to report on these matters, one wonders a little whether justice will be seen to be done. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames said, we have little power to affect events in Greece. But I am speaking of British subjects for whose rights and liberties Her Majesty's Government bear a direct responsibility.

I turn now to a subject about which other hon. Members have spoken, a subject of direct concern to my constituents, namely, the possibility that there will be a third London airport at Stansted. If this comes about, it will wreak havoc in Essex. My constituents are desperately worried. It would be monstrous, the decision having been so long delayed, if the Government even dreamed of making an announcement when the House was practically up and many hon. Members were not able to speak their minds as we can at this moment. I hope that we shall hear from the Leader of the House that nothing like that will happen and that any decision which the Government propose to take will be properly announced when the House is back or, alternatively, that the House will not go away for Whitsun but will have ample opportunity to debate the matter at length. On this and the other matters to which I have referred we must have satisfaction from the Treasury Bench.

5.33 p.m.

Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)

I wish, first, to raise a question of procedure. I shall not trouble the House with it for more than a few moments, but I should like an assurance from the Leader of the House that, before we return after the Recess, he will give serious thought to the method by which we record the votes of hon. Members on important issues. When hon. Members abstain in Divisions on important issues, could not a method be devised for recording such abstentions in the columns of HANSARD? I raised this question on on earlier occasion with a previous Leader of the House, the right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod), and he promised to give it serious consideration, but there were not many occasions thereafter on which there were abstentions. Recently, however, there has been a series of Divisions in which hon. Members on both sides have felt that abstention was the best way to register their views. It is important that such abstensions should be recorded in the columns of HANSARD so that reference could be made to them later.

Mr. Nicholas Ridley (Cirencester and Tewkesbury)

It would be difficult to distinguish between those who genuinely abstained and those who were just not here. Those who were not here might not wish to have their names recorded in HANSARD as having been absent.

Mr. Hughes

I do not wish to discuss the merits of the question. That could come later. I want an assurance from the Leader of the House, who is progressive and enlightened in these matters, that he will continue the consideration which was promised to me by, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Enfield, West when he was Leader of the House. There are occasions when hon. Members do not wish to be associated with any particular Motion but take an attitude which can, perhaps, be described as positive abstention.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. Will the hon. Gentleman indicate whether he is in favour of adjourning or not?

Mr. Hughes

I am not in favour of adjourning until we have an assurance from the Leader of the House that he will continue the consideration which was promised to me by the right hon. Member for Enfield, West. When abstentions occur on both sides of the House, difficulties are caused in various ways. For example, representatives of the Press do not know who has abstained because of principle or because they were ill and not present. All I ask is that, during the Recess, my right hon. Friend will give his earnest consideration to this matter and report to us when he has done so.

I entirely agree with what has been said by hon. Members about Greece and Vietnam, but I wish now to refer to Scotland. No one can say that Scotland has taken a great deal of the time of the House this week. I understand that one Member, and one only, expressed views about Scotland in the Common Market debate.

Sir D. Glover


Mr. Hughes

Only two, then. I make no complaint against the right of the Chair to select speakers. What I say is that, on the occasion of an important debate such as that, a Minister for Scotland should put the Scottish point of view. I should like an assurance from the Leader of the House, before we rise for the Recess, that a statement will be made about how Scotland will be affected economically if we go into the Common Market. It is an entirely new line in procedure that Scotland should be completely ignored and the question of, say, agriculture in Scotland be dealt with by the Minister of Agriculture in England.

Many of us who come from Scotland will have great difficulty during the Recess in explaining these matters to our constituents if we do not have a statement from the Secretary of State or the Minister responsible for agriculture at the Scottish Office. I do not want to interrupt the proceedings tomorrow. I do not ask for any special attendance, and I do not wish to impose upon the Secretary of State's time, but I ask the Leader of the House to give us an assurance that a statement will be made giving Members representing Scottish constituencies information which will enable them to explain to their constituents what changes will be likely to affect them if we go into the Common Market.

I say this as one representing a constituency where there are many milk producers. I should like the matter to be spelt out so that I can tell my farmer constituents what they are likely to be in for and exactly how the Common Market arrangements for milk will affect dairy fanners.

Sir Stephen McAdden (Southend, East)

Do I understand the hon. Gentleman correctly? Is he suggesting that those hon. Members representing Scottish seats who cast their votes yesterday voted without any knowledge of what they were doing?

Mr. Hughes

I cast no aspersions on my colleagues from Scotland or England. I only say that they would have been better informed on how they could vote if we had had spelt out exactly how the people who live by the production of milk will be affected by the proposals. Like hon. Members opposite, I spend some time in the Whitsun Recess talking to farmers, and naturally Scottish farmers, who are anxious to know how they will fare under the proposals, will ask, "How are we affected?". I shall say, "Read the White Paper on Agriculture", and they will say, "But we have no statement from the Secretary of State for Scotland". They will press me and tell me that the White Paper says that under the proposals there will be less profitability in the production of milk. Less profitability in the production of anything is serious. When they ask me to spell the matter out I shall be unable to do so unless we get a statement.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I think that the hon. Gentleman is spelling out his comments in too great detail to keep in order. He must relate his remarks to the Motion, which is about the adjournment for the Recess.

Mr. Hughes

I shall not proceed further on that, except to say that I think that I have proved my case that Scottish Members visiting their constituents are entitled to a fuller explanation about matters affecting Scotland than they have already had. We have had a debate without a Scottish Minister having an opportunity of telling us the exact position.

We shall also inevitably be asked as Scottish Members how the decision will affect the advance factories position. If the Common Market proposals come into effect, how far will that prevent the advance factories being built in Scotland, and how far will it mean that there will be a continuation of the drift south?

I suggest that I have said enough to show that there should be a clear statement—not necessarily a White Paper—from the Scottish Office, showing the people of Scotland exactly how they are likely to fare in the negotiations. I believe that I will have the majority of my Scottish colleagues on both sides of the House with me in asking that some kind of statement should be made from the Scottish Office before we rise for the Whitsun Recess.

5.43 p.m.

Mr. James Davidson (Aberdeenshire, West)

It is by coincidence that I happen to follow the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes), with whom I completely agree. I wish to reinforce his point but do not wish to delay the business of the House for more than a few minutes. I was one of those unfortunate enough to sit through the greater part of the three-day debate on our entry to the Common Market and not catch the eye of the Chair. Although I very much regretted that, I regretted still more the fact that neither the Secretary of State for Scotland nor any other Minister seemed to appreciate that the conditions for Scotland's entry are somewhat different to those for England's.

For example, we are an exporting country of agricultural products, and in many other ways our economy and general conditions are very different to those of England. It is often overlooked that by the Treaty of Union of 1707 two kingdoms, two equal partners, were joined as the United Kingdom.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Those are important remarks, but I am not sure how the hon. Gentleman relates them to the Motion. He must do that.

Mr. Davidson

My relation to the Motion is precisely that of the hon. Member for South Ayrshire. [Laughter.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman will recall that I called the attention of the hon. Member for South Ayrshire to the fact that he was getting out of Order.

Mr. Davidson

I accept your point, Mr. Deputy Speaker. My relation to the matter of the adjournment of the House is that before it takes place I should like to see not only a full statement from the Secretary of State for Scotland but an undertaking, which perhaps the Leader of the House will obtain from the Secretary of State, that at a very early opportunity we shall have a debate in the Scottish Grand Committee on the effects on Scotland of Britain's entry into the Common Market. This is absolutely essential.

May I just revert to the position about the Union? The point has been made by a leading Scottish judge that the whole Treaty of Union would fall to be re-examined in the event of the United Kingdom's accession to the Common Market.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Is the hon. Gentleman arguing that that should take place before the Recess?

Mr. Davidson

It should certainly have taken place in the course of Ministers' answering two points raised during the debate on our entry into the Common Market. During that three-day debate only three Scottish Members were called. One was speaking as Front-Bench spokesman for the Official Opposition and, therefore, did not particularly treat the Scottish side of the question; one other Scottish Member just spoke very briefly on the matter of Scotland's position on our entry; and only one member from the Government side spoke on the question of Scotland's entry—and that occupied only a paragraph or two of HANSARD. The question should be examined carefully.

I do not agree with the contention of the judge to whom I referred that the Treaty of Union would fall to be renegotiated in the event of the United Kingdom's accession. I studied the Treaty from end to end very carefully once again at the weekend. But this is a point of dispute in Scotland. It will be put to Scottish Members during the three weeks of the Recess, and we should have some statement on the matter.

I hope that the Leader of the House will forcibly put to the Secretary of State for Scotland that there is a real need for a separate debate in the Scottish Grand Committee on the effect on Scotland on entry to the Common Market.

I was one of those who voted in favour of entry, but we should be able to impress these points about Scotland's position on those who will be starting negotiations, or starting basic work for their negotiations, during the three weeks that the House is in Recess.

5.48 p.m.

Mr. John Fraser (Norwood)

Like my hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Blenkinsop), I do not think that the House should adjourn until there has been a clear and unequivocal statement by the Government about affairs in Greece. The Government should not stand mute when a democracy dies.

There are two very special reasons why a statement should be made at an early date, before we adjourn, and the point was put succinctly in an editorial in the Observer. First, the discreet attitude adopted towards the Greek coup by both the British and American Governments, in contrast to the forthright condemnation by the Danes, is being exploited by the new régime and is giving no comfort to the Greek democrats, by whom it is being treated as a betrayal. Secondly, the British and American Governments will have to find ways of bringing home to the régime in Athens that its action is not only politically disreputable but is also a danger to the Western Alliance. The longer repudiation is stayed the greater the encouragement to the illegal régime.

One should remember that, during our Recess, were it not for the coup on 21st April, democratic elections would have been held in Greece and would undoubtedly have resulted in the return of a Social Democrat Government. That is why the coup took place. The matters to which the Government should address themselves in a statement of opinion are the normal trappings of dictatorship: the forgery of the King's signature; the arrest of ex-Prime Ministers; the detention of at least one British citizen; the removal of all guarantees to personal liberty, including the removal of guarantees of non-execution for political offences, and the locking up of 5,000 to 7,000 political prisoners in an island which has been called the "Devil's Island" of the Mediterranean.

I recognise that it is normal in diplomacy, even where a Prime Minister or President democratically elected is executed, deposed or detained, to establish diplomatic relations with his successor within about a fortnight and to forget all about the tyranny of the new régime. I realise also that it is not usual for Her Majesty's Government to make statements about the internal affairs of another country—and therefore I am anticipating the reasons why the Government may not wish to make a statement.

Nevertheless, a statement should be made. We should, first, express the gravest concern that, for the first time since the end of the war, democracy in Western Europe has given place to a dictatorship in one of the countries.—[An HON. MEMBER: "What about Czechoslovakia."] I said Western Europe. I am referring to the N.A.T.O. countries and those associated with them.

One would have thought that the lessons of the 1930s—of Spain, Italy, Germany and of Greece itself in 1937—would have been sufficient warning. The fact that we had to fight a war in which millions of lives were lost in order to defend political democracy in Western Europe should surely have been a lesson.

Secondly, Greece is a member of N.A.T.O. It seems that every time a military coup takes place—this happened in Turkey as well—the first thing the new régime says is that it will be a loyal member of N.A.T.O. But being a loyal member of N.A.T.O. surely does not automatically give a certificate of political virginity. It does not involve dispensation from democracy but obligations towards it. The Preamble to the Treaty says that the parties to it … are determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilisation of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. Article 2 says that the parties to the Treaty, in order to strengthen N.A.T.O., undertake to strengthen their own free institutions.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is going into far too much detail. He is debating the merits of the subject, which is not relevant to the Motion.

Mr. Fraser

I am sorry, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was trying to anticipate the reasons that the Government may advance for not making a statement about Greece before the Recess. Nevertheless, I submit that they should make a statement because this is a test case for freedom. Many things have been done by N.A.T.O. countries in order to keep our freedom. Vast sums of money have been spent and very many people conscripted into the Armed Forces. We are now at a great test of democracy and I submit that we should have a Government statement about the ending of democracy in the country which gave the very word to the world.

5.54 p.m.

Mr. Patrick Wall (Haltemprice)

I submit that we should not go into recess until two matters have been cleared up. One is personal to me and the other is general. The personal is the least important and I take it first. I was asked yesterday to do a broadcast on the subject of defence today and, for that reason, I missed Question Time. I returned at 5.30 p.m. to receive a letter from the hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Faulds).

My whereabouts during the morning and the early part of the afternoon were well known to my secretary, and if the hon. Member had wished to get in touch with me he could have used the telephone. I understand that he accused me at Question Time of making an illegal broadcast over Radio 270. I understand that the Postmaster-General said that it was not illegal.

It is, therefore, only right that this matter should be cleared up before the House goes into recess. We have an hon. Member accusing another hon. Member of an illegal act and the Government saying that it was not illegal. I have heard no further information from the hon. Member for Smethwick. I hope he will follow the normal convention of the House and apologise for making this comment when I was not present.

The second issue that the House should discuss before the Recess and the reason why we should not go into recess until we have had a statement concerns the subject of my broadcast over Radio 270—the future of our relations with Rhodesia. During this Recess, the campaign of sanctions will presumably continue. They are certainly having a certain effect in Rhodesia and are affecting the majority of Africans more than the minority of Europeans.

During the Recess, undoubtedly our economy will again be hampered by this campaign of sanctions, which it is estimated will cost the country about £150 million by the end of the year—and this at a time when we are trying to put the economy in order before entering the E.E.C.

The Government should make some statement that they are willing to try and resume talks with Mr. Smith's Government in Rhodesia. If they do not do so, this long war of attrition will continue until such time as the United Nations demands the imposition of sanctions on the whole of Southern Africa and the dispute has escalated to the grave damage of this country and of Rhodesia. But I must admit that that will happen after the Recess and not before it.

If the Government say that negotiating with so-called rebels would be appeasement, I would reply that it has happened once before during this dispute. The Government changed their tune between January and November last year and it would ill-become the Treasury Bench to talk about appeasement in view of the statement about Aden today.

Both from the personal point of view and from the point of view of the honour of the country in our relations with the South Arabian Federation and our moral obligation to the Government of that Federation, and because the people of this country are getting increasingly worried about the campaign of sanctions against Rhodesia, these matters should be cleared up before the Recess.

5.57 p.m.

Mr. Frank Hooky (Sheffield, Heeley)

I want to pick up a point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) when he said that events far from this country could have grave consequences for our people. I do not wish to follow his remarks further on the subject of Vietnam, although I do not dissent essentially from what he said. But I believe that we should not adjourn for the Recess until a statement has been made about an event of considerable importance which this House, to my knowledge, has passed over in silence or has almost completely ignored.

This is the special meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations which has taken place during the last fortnight on the subject of South-West Africa. That area is about as far away from here as it is possible to get in the inhabited globe and it may seem to be a remote and inconsequential matter for us in this kingdom to trouble ourselves about the affairs of the inhabitants of that territory.

I suggest that the case is very much otherwise. The Government have, rightly, repeatedly declared their support for the United Nations and the importance they attach to it as an instrument for the promotion of the rule of law and the harmonious development of international relations. I agree with that declaration in principle and with that general policy and I welcome the fact that today some edge and sharpness were given to that policy by the statement on Aden by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary.

The Government cannot applaud and use and support the United Nations in certain matters when we seek its help and support only to shrug off the opinions and machinery of the United Nations when, in a subject or dispute, they happen to be inconvenient to our interests.

I should be out of order if I went into all the inequities of apartheid. I need say only that they have been summed up in six searing words by the hon. Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall), who described them as morally abominable, intellectually grotesque, spiritually indefensible. They could hardly have been more succinctly and more exactly damned than that, and I agree with every one of those words. I therefore believe that before the House adjourns it is entitled to some statement, some resume, some indication of the Government's appraisal of the discussions in the recent special meeting of the General Assembly.

This is not an odd townsmeeting in a village somewhere in the world. This is the great international forum of the only international organisation to which we belong and which is specifically and precisely dedicated to upholding the rule of law. We are entitled to some reasoned statement of what the Government consider to be the progress of the deliberations on South-West Africa. The hon. Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover) referred to an example of the violation of human rights in Guyana. I agree with him that it is important, and if he wishes to raise it in the House, I shall support him in an investigation of the matter.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is getting a long way from the Motion. He must come to the Motion for the Adjournment of the House for the Whitsuntide Recess.

Mr. Hooley

I am sorry. I will forbear to wander into these fascinating bypaths.

But if it is right for an hon. Member to raise an individual question of human rights, and I believe it is, it is equally right that I, or any other hon. Member, on this Motion, should raise a question touching the human rights of 500,000 people in South-West Africa, a territory governed under a mandate conferred upon His Britannic Majesty 40 years ago and which, although now exercised by a sovereign State which, alas, is no longer a member of the Commonwealth, is a mandate solemnly conferred and to be exercised strictly on behalf of the well-being of the inhabitants of that territory. As the special meeting of the General Assembly has been concerned——

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is going into far too much detail. He must argue in favour of or against the Motion.

Mr. Hooley

I beg your pardon, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I accept your Ruling.

This meeting is of such importance and of such consequence to the whole peace of Southern Africa that the House is entitled, before it adjourns for the Whit-sun Recess and we forget about these things and allow them to slip out of the minds of the public, at least to a resume of the Government's opinion of the progress made in this matter within the machinery of the United Nations.

6.5 p.m.

Mr. Brian Harrison (Maldon)

Over the last 24 hours and, we understand, tomorrow, we have had a spate of Government statements all of which have been statements of the sort which ought to be debated in full. For instance, the statement on Aden this afternoon should have been debated in full. Time should have been given for it. For instance, we want to know what information and advice the Minister without Portfolio brought back from Aden and gave to the Foreign Secretary. We want to know whether that advice was rejected by the Foreign Secretary and, if so, whether the Minister without Portfolio will resign, as could easily happen if our understanding of what was brought back is correct.

I cannot believe that the Leader of the House, who is responsible for looking after the rights of all hon. Members, cannot assist us to have a statement tomorrow about Stansted Airport, a matter which vitally affects a tremendous number of hon. Members, mostly, I admit, on the Opposition side. It would be an absolutely scurrilous dereliction of duty if the right hon. Gentleman were a party to any movement which did not enable a statement like that to be made.

The statement by the Secretary of State for Defence earlier today should have been debated. We want to know whether he intends to try to introduce a corps of infantry, for example. These matters were only vaguely covered by his statement, and they should have been debated.

There is also the issue which I raised with the Leader of the House in business questions on 27th April. The right hon. Gentleman has given facilities for a very important and wide-ranging debate concerning the interests of one animal. I want to know whether he will give equal facilities to a Bill, introduced by the hon. Lady the Member for Eton and Slough (Miss Lestor), which is concerned with children, who are at least as important as animals. The right hon. Gentleman could give time for debating that important Bill if he reduced the length of the Recess.

We should have answers to those and other questions before we adjourn, or we should come back earlier to deal with them.

6.7 p.m.

Mr. Roy Roebuck (Harrow, East)

The House ought not to adjourn without clarification about the nature of the application, made this morning, to join the European Economic Community. It is widely reported in the Press that this is a clear and uncluttered application, but the application follows the Motion which the House passed last night and which provided that an approach should be made on the terms of the White Paper which, in effect, repeated the Prime Minister's statement to the House on 2nd May.

In that statement, my right hon. Friend said: … the Government would be prepared to accept the Treaty of Rome, subject to the necessary adjustments consequent upon the accession of a new member and provided that we receive satisfaction on the points about which we see difficulty. It is in this spirit that the Government intend to embark on the negotiations which must precede entry."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd May, 1967; Vol. 746, c. 311.] Far from that being a clear and uncluttered application to join, it is hedged about with a number of safeguards. I am fortified in that belief by the speeches from the Treasury Bench——

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I am not sure how this is related to the Motion and to whether we should adjourn. The hon. Gentleman must address his remarks to the Motion.

Mr. Roebuck

I am saying that a reason why the House should not adjourn is so that we can have clarification about the nature of the application which was made this morning on behalf of the Government to join the European Economic Community. My point is that it is widely reported that this is a clear and uncluttered application, which is not what the House approved last night.

I am fortified in that belief by the speech made by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture. No one could suggest that his speech, with all its reservations, indicated that it was the intention of Her Majesty's Government to make a clear and uncluttered application. I am further fortified in my contention by the speech of my right hon. Friend the Commonwealth Secretary, who said that if certain safeguards were not forthcoming there would be a withdrawal——

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is pursuing the same line which I suggested to him was out of order. I must insist that he comes into order and addresses himself to the Motion.

Mr. Roebuck

I beg your pardon, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I had sought to argue my case and to seek your guidance.

This matter is a cause of great alarm to the country as a whole, and it would be very wrong if we were to adjourn with this great constitutional issue hanging over us. This House came to a decision last night that an application should be made to join, but hedged about with certain safeguards. There are reports in the Press this morning that a clear and uncluttered application to join has been made. My contention is that the House should not adjourn until we have clarification from the Front Bench as to the precise nature of this application. I have sought to demonstrate the difficulty ill which I am placed, and I hope that the Leader of the House will be able to assist me.

There is a further reason why I believe that the House should not adjourn, and that is because I feel that we ought to have some discussion about Commonwealth trade in the light of the communiqué issued after the last Commonwealth Trade Ministers' meeting last year. In that communiqué there were indications that a big effort would be made to expand Commonwealth trade. In view of certain speeches which have been made, there is great doubt in the Commonwealth about whether that is now the Government's intention. I earnestly seek reassurance on these matters before the adjournment of the House.

6 12 p.m.

Mr. John Biffen (Oswestry)

The hon. Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Roebuck) has spoken with great force about his anxiety that there should be some assurance on certain points concerning the negotiations over the Common Market before the adjournment of the House. I have great sympathy with him, and I am sure that this sympathy is felt by the Leader of the House because I recall the right hon. Gentleman in 1962 arguing with great force about the indispensability of the statutory Milk Marketing Board. It is precisely those kind of points on which one would like greater clarification, as they concern the move towards negotiations.

It is not on that point that I wish to address my brief remarks. The Motion says that the House, at its rising tomorrow, should adjourn till Wednesday, 31st May. I have very serious reservations about passing such a Motion, and my reservations arise from the fact that it is absolutely essential that the House should be in Session at various point in the development of the Government's prices and income policy, when issue of great significance may be decided, not by law but by Ministerial exhortation. Ministerial nodding or winking.

Such a point of vital development is undoubtedly before the House today. There are events which have occurred today which to my mind, give special moment to the argument that we must have the maximum clarification from the Government about the development of the prices and incomes policy. The first point arises from the performance of the Minister of State at the Department of Economic Affairs during Question Time when, confronted with a variety of questions, from both sides of the House, concerning the prices element of the prices and incomes policy, he went out of his way to assure the House that he relied upon the Confederation of British Industry to be the main agent in voluntary policy.

A reason why he must go one stage further and clarify this statement to the House, certainly by tomorrow, is because the Confederation of British Industry, by its charter, excludes the retail trade. Most of the Questions directed to him earlier today concerned the movement of retail prices, and this is a movement for which the Confederation could, with every justification, disclaim any responsibility.

The second point arises from a newspaper article. I quote from today's Financial Times, which says: A pay claim on behalf of the 50 ushers in London's Royal Courts of Justice goes to the Lord Chancellor, Lord Gardiner, today. The Civil Service Union want the maximum pay rates to be increased from £14 7s. 6d. to £16 15s. 6d. The union blames the present shortage of ushers on low pay. What is significant in relation to the Motion before the House is that it is today that this claim goes to a Government Department.

It is not sufficient to say that this is a matter of a mere 50 people. We know that the House was enjoined to invoke the law against 20 people who were the employees of the Crown Bedding Company. The point of immense significance is the figure of £16 15s. 6d, because the movement to that figure passes through the magic figure of £15, which we know is advanced by Mr. Frank Cousins—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman cannot now discuss the details of the case which he wants the House to debate.

Mr. Biffen

As our whole knowledge of what constitutes a lowest-paid worker depends on Ministerial statements, either to the public or, more happily, to this House from the Dispatch Box, and in the light of the fact that, on previous occasions, reference has been made by the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour to Mr. Cousins's figure of £15 in connection with what constitutes a lowest-paid worker, it is of immense importance that we should know what is the Government's reaction to a claim of this character, which has gone to them today?

If we do not get some reassurance within the immediate future, there is the danger that new attitudes will develop, new nuances will proceed in the prices and incomes policy during the period that the House is in Recess, between tomorrow and Wednesday, 31st May. This will be in a time when there may be Government operating not through law, but from White Paper and indicated Ministerial wishes. It is very perilous indeed for the House to allow this situation to pass unchallenged.

6.18 p.m.

Mr. Anthony Barber (Altrincham and Sale)

I rise at this stage, because, although at least one of my hon. Friends still wishes to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, I would like to put a proposition to the Leader of the House and give him time to consider it. I shall be as brief as I can, and will not attempt to refer to all the points that have been raised on this Motion. I want to endorse what my right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) had to say about some observations made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell). The right hon. Gentleman was referring to a former Speaker, and he accused your predecessor of, and I took his words down, a serious dereliction of duty. I will not go over the merits of the case again—they were referred to by the right hon. Gentleman. All that I wish to say is that I believe that those words were wholly unjustified. I know the right hon. Member for Leeds, West well, and I have a high regard for him. Having made my point I want to say, as did my right hon. Friend, that I hope that the right hon. Member will, when he reads HANSARD, reconsider what he said an hour or so ago. I would urge him to reconsider this unfortunate and totally unjustified phrase.

Reference has been made to the need for further clarification before we rise for the Recess of the Government's policy concerning Vietnam. The hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) put the point very clearly when he said that he would like a reaffirmation by a member of the Government of the Prime Minister's statement about the bombing of North Vietnam—a statement which had previously been made by the Prime Minister and which, in the words of the hon. Member, was "now being violated". In the light of all that has happened in the past few days, it is a very strange assumption to make that the Prime Minister adheres to a policy statement which he made some months ago. In any event, as is clear from what the hon. Member for Penistone said, whatever the answer he gets today, he is determined to go away for his fortnight's holiday.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames raised the question of the London borough elections. He said that he would be happy to forgo the fortnight's Recess if the Government, in the light of all that had happened, were prepared to introduce legislation to allow the normal elections of the London boroughs to take place. We know that the right hon. Gentleman will not accede to my right hon. Friend's very sensible suggestion, but I believe that he had a very good point. If political opinions in the country had not changed, one might say, "It does not matter very much if these people are not allowed to choose their councillors this year" However, we know that throughout the country Labour candidates are being trounced and, therefore, I believe that my right hon. Friend was right to make his request.

Mr. Roebuck

Would the right hon. Gentleman agree that it has always been Conservative Party policy to postulate that local elections should be concerned with local matters? What is happening in the country as a result of the Government's general economic policy, and so on, should have no bearing whatsoever on local elections.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The right hon. Gentleman must not be tempted to reply to the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Barber

May I be allowed to say that if the hon. Gentleman is saying that the electorate in the local elections are not satisfied with the Government's policy, I entirely agree with him.

I refer, in passing, to two matters which were raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover)—the very sad case of a Mr. Wilson, of Guyana, and another very unhappy case referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison). I hope that the Leader of the House will say something about those two cases. There have been references to Aden and to the Foreign Secretary's statement today, but I think that the least said about that the better.

I turn to a matter which has been raised by my hon. Friends the Members for Richmond, Surrey (Mr. A. Royle), Ormskirk, Chigwell and Maldon (Mr. Brian Harrison) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames. It concerns the possibility of a statement being made before we rise for the Summer Recess about a new airport at Stansted. I should like to say in no uncertain terms that if it is the Government's intention, as has been suggested in this morning's newspapers, that a statement on a matter of this importance should be made tomorrow morning at 11 o'clock, that would be quite intolerable. Whatever the merits of the Government's ultimate proposals, the fact is that what they are to decide and announce will affect hundreds of thousands of people in London, Essex and in the area concerned.

The Government have behind them a majority of 100. Therefore, there is no point in my right hon. and hon. Friends dividing the House on this Motion; we have other very important business to get on with. However, I hope that the Leader of the House will note the very strong feeling which there is on this matter. Certainly, hundreds of thousands of people in London and Essex will know that if the statement is made tomorrow at 11 o'clock the Government are doing everything possible to avoid critical examination of their proposal by the House of Commons. We know that the statement is ready, and we do not want the making of it to be delayed until after the Recess.

Therefore, I conclude by making a proposal to the right hon. Gentleman. He knows that it would be possible in the course of today's business, in between the Orders of the Day, for him or any other member of the Government to move, "That this House do now adjourn". The statement could be made and then the Motion could be withdrawn. That would mean that we could this evening, when there are plenty of people around the House, have a statement on Stansted Airport and we would be able to examine it. I am sure that the Opposition Chief Whip will support me when I say that if the Goverment make this statement tonight instead of at 11 o'clock tomorrow morning we will do everything in our power to ensure that undue time is not wasted.

Mr. David Winnick (Croydon, South)

Would the right hon. Gentleman give way before he sits down?

Mr. Barber

I have sat down.

6.26 p.m.

Sir John Langford-Holt (Shrewsbury)

I apologise for not being in the House for the earlier part of the debate. I doubt whether I should have intervened if the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) had not rather goaded me into action.

I have been here long enough to have heard Members press for debates on subjects in which they are interested—Greece, Vietnam, Rhodesia, South-West Africa, and so on—over many of which the Government do not have direct control. The hon. Member for Penistone, whom I am glad to see present—I should not have liked to comment on his speech in his absence—asked for a Government statement that if there were any escalation of the war in Vietnam we should be recalled. This brings me straight to the question of what is escalation.

Mr. Mendelson

I said that if the escalation which seems to be proceeding were to create such a threatening international situation and other Powers looked like entering the war, the House should be recalled.

Sir J. Langford-Holt

It is a matter of definition. Assurances given by the Government at the end of debates on Motions like this are very risky things.

We have only to look at the Order Paper every day to see reasons why the House should not adjourn for the proposed length of time. Many questions are never reached. Ministers are quite inaccessible—and the Leader of the House knows that I have views about that. Day after day we hear hon. Members giving notice that they will raise a matter on the Adjournment and we all know that it is little more than a joke because there just is not time to deal with it. These are some reasons why, in my view, we should not adjourn for this length of time.

I should like to have a specific assurance from the Leader of the Opposition on a matter in which we have a direct interest and a direct responsibility—Gibraltar. We have heard about flight restrictions, which I regard not only as unjustified but as dangerous to life and limb. We have heard that travel agents, on the basis of some threat which may or may not have been made by the Spanish Government, propose to route their tours, not through Gibraltar, thus doing damage to Gibraltar's trade and industry, but direct to Spain.

We understand that a threat has been made or is on the verge of being made by the Spanish Government, and the specific undertaking which I want from the right hon. Gentleman before I assent to this Motion is that the House will be recalled immediately if any further restriction is placed by the Spanish Government upon travel between Gibraltar and Spain. In those circumstances, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will agree to give me that assurance.

I have been in the House for as long as the right hon. Gentleman, and I have seen similar Motions debated many times. He and I have both seen the shadowboxing and the paper tigers; indeed, we have both been paper tigers in our time. The hon. Member for Penistone suggested that I had come into the Chamber for a bit of fun and did not intend to do anything. I do not ask for ten hon. Gentle- men opposite to accompany me through the Division Lobby. If I can find one to tell in a Division, I personally will divide the House.

6.31 p.m.

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

At the end of this debate, it is difficult to reply to all the points which have been raised. I must try, but I would ask hon. Gentlemen for patience and endurance while I am doing so.

This has been a characteristic Adjournment debate, but rather more so than some, because few Members have complained about the extra day which we have and given the impression that they do not want a holiday. I must say that I share their view.

I shall deal with individual cases first, because, by tradition, we give priority to special cases in this debate, and the hon. Members who have raised them have a right to answers.

The hon. Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover) raised a case which I must say, quite frankly, was not in my brief. I have obtained a "hot" brief from Whitehall about Mrs. Wilson—the other Mrs. Wilson. My information is that she has not been served with a deportation order by the Government of Guyana. Her home is in that country, and she has not asked to be brought to this country. I might add that, shortly before Mr. Wilson left Guyana, he wrote a letter to our High Commission staff expressing his thanks for what had been done for him and his wife. That may not be the last word on the episode, but it is the best answer that I can give at the moment. I believe that we have the full information, and I hope that it is right, in which case we have less ground for alarm——

Sir D. Glover

Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves that point, may I say how grateful I am for that reply, because I had not given him notice that I intended to raise the matter. However, I am still uncertain and unhappy about the position between this man and his wife, and I hope that the Commonwealth Office will make further inquiries.

Mr. Crossman

The position between the man and his wife is something into which I did not inquire.

I turn now to a matter of which the hon. Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison) did give me notice. The position in Zambia is extremely disconcerting. I am glad he mentioned the Daily Express reporter John Monks, who went to Lusaka for the hearing and who has now been declared a prohibited immigrant, for reasons which we should be unlikely to find justifiable. All that I can say is that our High Commissioner has drawn to the attention of the Government of Zambia that it is wrong in inter-rational law to detain citizens of another country except for the purpose of instituting criminal proceedings or deporting them. We are applying all the pressure that we can. However, it should be remembered that Zambia has the right to protect her public security, and I should hesitate to judge the acts of an independent Commonwealth Government until we know the full facts. We are not prejudging the issue. The Zambian Government claim that they have a case. However, we have a duty to look after our citizens, but I think that we must wait and see if there is a substantial case made out against them, as the Zambian Government assert there can be.

I turn now to the foreign affairs subjects raised by different hon. Members, and I deal, first, with Greece. I am glad that reference was made to the impression that Her Majesty's Government view with complete indifference what is happening in Greece. That is completely untrue, and I am sorry that impression has been created. I personally am deeply shocked and profoundly alarmed at what is happening there, as are all members of the Government. Not only is Greece a democracy, but a traditional friend of this country which many of us like in modern as well as ancient times. It is a shock for us that Greek democracy should be treated in this way.

However, shocked as we are, it is important to proceed in company with our N.A.T.O. allies. My hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Blenkin-sop) referred to the attitude of Norway and Denmark. He is not quite right in what he says. It is true that the Danes took a strong view at first, whereas the Norwegians took our own view. It is clear that, although our N.A.T.O. allies feel that there is no question of recognising formally this new group of colonels, it is important to put on all pressure to get a restoration of democracy without civil war in Greece; and everything conceivable is being done to ensure that.

My hon. Friend the Member for Penis-tone (Mr. Mendelson) referred to the report in the Greek Press issued by the Greek Government that the British Ambassador had spoken as though he approved of the régime. The most strenuous objection was taken by the Ambassador at once, and I think that it will be found in tomorrow's newspapers that it has been made clear that the Ambassador did nothing of the sort. If he had, he would have been acting against the instructions of the Government. I am glad that the point was raised, so that it could be put straight.

So much for Greece, about which hon. Members on both sides are deeply concerned. I turn next to Vietnam, where there is the gravest danger of escalation. The situation is extremely dangerous at present, in view of the attitude of both sides. I can only give the precise assurance for which I was asked. Of course, the Government would ask for the recall of Parliament if the situation in Vietnam developed in such a way as to endanger world peace.

But there is no change in the Government's attitude. There are differences between the Government and my hon. Friend. The Government are convinced that our present attitude is right and that our rôle is the correct one. If a chance came of achieving peace, we think that that rôle could be used to good effect. However, if there was a serious change in the situation and the threat of world war, Parliament would be recalled at once.

The hon. Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) spoke about Rhodesia. I do not think that there is very much to reply to in what he said except to recall that he makes his points with great persuasion.

I was touched and moved by the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley) about South-West Africa. He was right to remind us. Certainly, it reminded me that we need to debate this kind of subject, and it is a good thing that we have such occasions as the debate on the Adjournment for the Whitsun Recess to hear such a good speech on a very important subject.

As for Gibraltar, the Government are as concerned as my hon. Friend about what is happening there and about the effects of British companies suddenly deciding to put their tourists through Spain and not Gibraltar. This is being taken with extreme seriousness by the Government, but I am sure that my hon. Friend does not really think that, with the present Foreign Secretary, much will be given away in Gibraltar while we are in Recess at Whitsuntide.

I turn to procedure. My old opponent the right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) and the hon. Member for Ormskirk both raised this matter, and I will give them the assurance which they do not want. Our Sessional Order will remain in action throughout the Session. We agreed to have an experiment which lasted for the Session, and it would not be much of an experiment if we did not try it out for a period of time to see how it went. There are already signs of improvements which can be made, but we shall not modify the Sessional Order. We shall carry on with our Monday and Wednesday beanos just as happily after Whitsun as we have so far.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Must that necessarily cover the almost accidental arrangement by which the main debates on Mondays and Wednesdays end at half-past nine? I think that this has proved to be very unsatisfactory.

Mr. Crossman

I think that it is worth considering whether we might say to ourselves, "This could be changed, as it is a nuisance to us". I would like to be able to do this. I shall think about it, and discuss it through the usual channels.

The right hon. Gentleman implied that we were anxious to use the Guillotine on the Finance Bill. I know that this was said in debate, but the right hon. Gentleman knows as well as I do that the aim of both sides of the House is not to do so. There is no intention to use it. I think that the negotiations about this are starting today, in the normal way that these things are done. I am convinced that we shall do this by means of a friendly arrangement, and that the safeguard will not be brought out of the cupboard into the open, because this is the last thing that I want. It will, in a sense, demonstrate failure if that happens. There is no immediate threat of the Guillotine, and I would like to think that it will not have to be used to get a reasonable timetable this year, which was the object of the debate.

The hon. Member for Ormskirk said that we had had an unsatisfactory debate, and not enough procedural change. We are not doing too badly. It took a long time before those who thought that we ought to go forward cautiously with the Finance Bill got their way. We got there after three attempts, one in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one at night, and finally, we carried the important experimental Order.

The hon. Gentleman also said that I did not believe in extending the powers of back benchers. I think that he is wrong. I do believe in it, and I think that the way to get it is through specialist Committees. Perhaps he did not notice what happened this morning—something small, but unprecedented. For the first time a Minister gave evidence before one of our new Select Committees. He was summoned by the Committee, and cross-examined. I say that it is giving increased power to back benchers if we create and encourage institutions by means of which back benchers can summon Ministers to appear before them and be examined. I think that by the time I have done my job I shall convert the hon. Gentleman not only to believing that I mean to get something done, but liking what is being done by this side of the House to step up continuous control of the Executive by the House, both on the Floor, and in specialist Committees.

I come now to the proposal made by the right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames for the repeal of the London Government Act. The right hon. Gentleman revealed a secret when he said that I would say, "No". I do not think that we shall find time to debate this before or after the Whitsun Recess, or before the end of the Session, or at all. I do not think that the question of who wins and loses any set of elections should be the deciding factor as to whether there is a certain form of constitution. I think that, on merit, we should split and have the G.L.C. elections at one time and the borough elections at another.

There are, of course, two views on this. Some of my hon. Friends have said it would have been better for us this year if they had been run at the same time, but this is a question of political advantage. I think that we have to measure the changes we make on some basis of constitutional merit. That was the basis on which we worked, so I do not think that what the right hon. Gentleman said was particularly relevant.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I do not want to refight that old battle, but the right hon. Gentleman will recall that an alternative method was offered to him of splitting the G.L.C. and borough election dates, without continuing the mandates of councillors in office. I agree with what the right hon. Gentleman says, that who wins is not necessarily decisive, but when, by an Act of Parliament, we postpone an election, we keep people in office, and it aggravates the situation when we know that by so doing we are keeping in office a party which would not be in office if the electors had the right to exercise their vote at the normal time.

Mr. Crossman

We are in danger of fighting that battle again. I think that I made my point clear.

My hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) asked whether, during the Recess, I would reflect on the possibility of abstention, not casual abstention, but deliberate abstention, being recorded in the Division Lists. I hear that the right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod) took an interest in this. I am like the Alhenians: I like new ideas. The idea of enabling Members to show different flavours appeals to me, and we ought to think about this.

My hon. Friend the Patronage Secretary is away at the moment. I have not been in touch with him, but his view is different from mine, and I would not, therefore, like to commit myself. However, like the right hon. Member for Enfield, West, I am attracted by the idea, and I am prepared to go away and, without consulting the Patronage Secretary, to reflect on the matter for a fortnight and then see what he says about it. I hope that if I give my hon. Friend that assurance he will let us have the Whitsun Recess unreduced.

Sir D. Glover

I am not saying that I support that proposal, but it is the official practice at the United Nations.

Mr. Crossman

Of course it is, but can all good ideas at the United Nations be grafted on to House of Commons procedure? That is a large assumption.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Including the veto.

Mr. Crossman


My hon. Friend also said that during the three-day debate on the Common Market the House did not get a fair picture of the effect which joining the Common Market would have on Scottish milk farmers. I am interested in the possible effects on milk farmers in the Midlands, and there are many English Members who have certain regional milk interests. I would remind my hon. Friend that it is not only in Scotland that people like to know about these things. Occasionally, English people think that they should have the kind of investigation into their special local difficulties which the Scots instinctively demand for themselves. If my hon. Friend thinks that this matter should be debated in the Scottish Grand Committee, perhaps I might suggest that we should have a Mercian Grand Committee to debate the interests of farmers in the Midlands, and perhaps we can bring in farmers in Shropshire and North Oxfordshire.

The hon. Member for Oswestry (Mr. Biffen) raised the question of prices and incomes. He is right to remind us that this is a continuing process in which big decisions are taken all the time. I cannot think of a Measure which has been better policed than this Act. We have had many debates between 10 and 11 o'clock at night, and there have been some interesting discoveries about our way of life. I do not think that if we leave for a fortnight without close attention to the detail of the Act there is any danger that something disastrous will happen, or that there will be a lapse into what the hon. Gentleman described as ministerial dictatorship.

Mr. James Davidson

In a slightly different context I raised the same subject as that raised by the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes). I asked for an assurance that the right hon. Gentleman would press his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland to have a full debate in the Scottish Grand Committee on the effect which entry into the Common Market would have on Scotland. I referred to the controversy which there has been over the effect on the Act of Union.

Mr. Crossman

Looking at my notes, my eye leapt to the notation, "Aberdeenshire, West—Scottish Grand" but I got to it in connection with Ayrshire. I will, however, put to my right hon. Friend the point made by the hon. Gentleman, and impress on him that it was made.

I turn now to the important issue of Stansted. This is a House of Commons matter, and I want to explain what happened because I think that hon. Members have a right to a full explanation. The decision was taken comparatively recently by the Government, and I had the choice of trying to postpone it until after the Recess and announcing it on the first day we came back, or doing so before the House rose. I would have done it this afternoon, but I was told that the White Paper could not be got out in time. I had to decide whether to have a statement without the relevant White Paper, or at the same time. It will be made tomorrow morning, and the White Paper will be available. I am sure that the matter will have to be debated. It is one of the most important issues of the time, so if the Opposition say that a mere statement at 11 o'clock tomorrow morning, followed by a few odd questions, is not enough, I shall say the same.

I happen to be an ex-Minister of Housing and Local Government and I know a good deal about this subject. I quite agree that this is a major issue, not only in respect of amenity, but of planning and air travel. It is a decision which, whichever way we make it, will influence the whole development of southern England for many years to come. I shall certainly look at it seriously in terms of a debate. I could not have a statement made alone; it would be a contempt of the House. The statement will have to be made tomorrow, not this afternoon, because we could not get the White Paper out in time.

I hope that this will be accepted by all those hon. Members who have contributed to the debate on the subject of Stansted.

Mr. Roebuck

Has my right hon. Friend anything to say about the terms of our application to join the Common Market?

Mr. Crossman

The terms of our application are important, but my hon. Friend will have to find out—if he wants to find out—the form in which the application is being made. I should like to find out myself. We had better find out together, and discuss it. I cannot see how we can postpone our Whitsun Recess because of this.

I now turn to the subject which started our debate. A very considered speech was made by the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), who has sent me a note apologising for having to go to a Committee upstairs. He will be able to read my reply in the record. I shall also reply briefly to the points made by the right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames, my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. Philip Noel-Baker) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell).

I have not changed the pledge that my predecessor made, and that I made, that the House should debate this question. My right hon. Friend was quite right in adding that the nature of the debate has been widened by what has happened. A year ago we were thinking about an inquiry. One of my hon. Friends said that he thought that an inquiry was not now necessary because we probably knew most of the facts and wanted to assess their significance for Government and Parliament.

I agree that two aspects are involved—one of them being the propriety of publication. This is a new and undoubtedly important factor, because a breach of confidentiality in our relations with Government could only undermine the principles of Cabinet Government, but if we deny anybody the possibility of ever publishing anything we stifle debate, and we have the difficulty of making a fair and workable arrangement which does not favour the great, and the top ones against the lesser ones. These are relevant factors which, I hope, will be fully discussed in any debate we have.

About half an hour ago, in another place, a Second Reading was given to a Bill to reduce from 50 years to 30 years the period during which secret documents were classified. A small step is being taken by both parties to see that more documents are released. Thirty years is much longer than 10 years. This issue needs careful thought and discussion, in terms of the period after which documents can be released.

There is also the issue of the relationship between Governments and the House of Commons, and the propriety of Government action. I shall not intervene in the conflict between the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland and my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West on the question whether or not the Profumo case is relevant to a debate on Suez. This is exactly the sort of thing that I presume we shall discuss when we have a big debate. That is an issue that we should talk over frankly with each other. I give the simple pledge that in my view there will be a debate.

I would, however, tell my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West that in the course of my replies to business questions I said two different things. I said on the first occasion that we had better wait until the publication of the book, and then, I notice, on the second occasion I said that it was not unreasonable to wait until the book is published, or at least until the serial is completed in The Times … "—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th May, 1967; Vol. 746, c. 753.] We shall have to discuss the question when we should have this debate. It might be in July, or earlier. There is no point in rushing it. We want a serious debate.

Mr. Pannell

What my right hon. Friend said is not a qualification. I do not want to judge Mr. Nutting or the right hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) out of context. We want to see everything that was said on the subject. This is the sort of difficulty that arises. I do not want to say any more than that at this stage.

Mr. Crossman

The second time I referred to it I gave myself the alternative of waiting for the completion of the serial in. The Times or the publication of the book. I shall bear in mind what my right hon. Friend has said. I do not want to rush into this debate. The House must seriously judge the issue, and face the problems of responsible Government in a responsible way. We do not want to rush into it in order to make propaganda speeches against each other.

On the point raised by the right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames, in my view in such a debate anything relevant to Suez would be discussable. The conduct of the Leader of the Opposition could be discussed as well as that of the Prime Minister. My right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South asked about the sanctity of the Charter of the United Nations. That would certainly be an area of discussion. One relevant aspect in this respect is the relationship of Suez to the United Nations Charter.

I was pleased with the tone of the speeches on this subject. It was clear that the matter was being treated in the proper way, which showed that hon. Members appreciated its importance in respect of the life of this House. With those provisoes I ask the permission of the House——

Sir J. Langford-Holt

I am trying to understand the undertaking given by the right hon. Gentleman about Gibraltar. What action will he take in the event of further restrictions being placed by the Spanish Government on travel between Gibraltar and Spain?

Mr. Crossman

I cannot any more than the Foreign Secretary could—give a purely hypothetical answer to a hypothetical question.

Question put and agreed to.


That this House, at its rising tomorrow, do adjourn till Wednesday 31st May.