HC Deb 25 April 1968 vol 763 cc502-8
Mr. Heath

May I ask the Leader of the House whether he will state the business of the House for next week?

The Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Frederick Peart)

Yes, Sir. The business for next week is as follows:

MONDAY, 29TH APRIL—Consideration of Private Members' Motions until seven o'clock.

Afterwards, Second Reading of the Customs Duties (Dumping and Subsidies) Amendment Bill.

Motion on the Sunday Cinematograph Entertainments Order.

Prayer on the Dangerous Drugs (Supply to Addicts) Regulations.

TUESDAY, 30TH APRIL—Second Reading of the Restrictive Trade Practices Bill.

Prayer on the Industrial Training Levy (Amendment) Order.

WEDNESDAY, 1ST MAY—Supply [19th Allotted day]:

Debate on an Opposition Motion on Rising Prices.

THURSDAY, 2ND MAY—Motion relating to the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity Order.

Remaining stages of the Air Corporations Bill and of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Bill [Lords].

FRIDAY, 3RD MAY—Private Members' Bills.

MONDAY, 6TH MAY—The proposed business will be:

Second Reading of the Social Work (Scotland) Bill [Lords].

Mr. Heath

Before Easter I constantly pressed the then Leader of the House for a statement about Forces pay, and we were promised one. It is now long over-due. Can the right hon. Gentleman ensure that a statement is made on the subject next week?

Secondly, the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor promised a debate on the Government's White Paper on Prices and Incomes. In view of the clear conflict which now exists between the Trades Union Congress and the Government, can the Leader of the House say when we are to be able to discuss the White Paper?

Mr. Peart

I am well aware of what was said by my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council, but I believe that the Leader of the Opposition will agree that I cannot be bound by that. He will recognise that there is a new situation, because I, as Leader of the House, may have a different approach. It may be an improvement, I do not know. [Interruption.] If the Leader of the Opposition will listen, there have been changes. I will try to see that the promise on Forces pay is fulfilled.

On the question of a debate on the White Paper on Prices and Incomes, the situation has changed in view of a new Ministerial responsibility. We are to discuss this next week. I would like to have discussions with hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on this; I believe that there could be some difficulty here.

Mr. Heath

It is just not good enough for the new Leader of the House to come along and say that he is going to dishonour his right hon. Friend. Right hon. Gentlemen in the same Government are there to honour each other's obligations. Will the Leader of the House kindly go away and return to the custom of honourable conduct which Members try to maintain in this House?

Mr. Peart

When a new Minister comes in it is right and proper that he should look at the situation. If he feels that there should be a different approach it is open to him to try to convince his colleagues. My right hon. Friend said that this was to be a new Mark II Cabinet.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I remind the House that there is important business ahead, and that many hon. Members are eager to speak. Those who are not might ration their business questions.

Mr. Orme

Could my right hon. Friend give us some details about the Prices and Incomes Order, which is to be brought forward on Thursday, and to what it appertains?

Mr. Peart

It is a transfer of functions Order. It concerns the responsibility of the Minister concerned with prices and incomes.

Mr. Braine

In view of the concern repeatedly expressed on both sides of the House for the future of British Honduras and the fact that the Government have now received the American mediator's report, can the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that a statement will be made not later than next week on the Government's intentions about the future of this territory?

Mr. Peart

I recognise that the hon. Gentleman is deeply interested in this subject. I will convey what he has said to my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Coe

Would my right hon. Friend consider arranging an early debate to take note of the recommendations of Mr. Speaker's Conference?

Mr. Peart

I will carefully note what my hon. Friend has said. I am dealing specifically with business for next week. I cannot find time for a debate next week.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Will the Motion on Procedure on the Order Paper, to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) and I have tabled an Amendment, as well as the Liberal Party and others, be debated?

Mr. Peart

It will be on Monday.

Mr. J. T. Price

Can my right hon. Friend tell me how much of next week's business will be "bugged" by the apparatus installed by the B.B.C. and controlled from the glass box at the end of the Chamber? Is he aware that there is a great deal of opposition on these benches and in the House generally to the televising and recording of our proceedings and that we shall want a much fuller explanation at an appropriate time of what is taking place?

Mr. Peart

I understand my hon. Friend's feelings. The experiment is proceeding under the arrangements made by the House, as my hon. Friend well knows, following the Resolution of the House on 11th December last. It finishes on Friday, 17th May.

Dr. David Kerr

Would my right hon. Friend bear in mind the urgent necessity for the House to debate the recent United Nations Conference on Trade and Development?

Mr. Peart

Yes. That is a very important matter, but I cannot find time for a debate on it next week.

Mr. Sharples

When will the right hon. Gentleman honour one of his own promises, namely, to give time for a debate on the Report of the Estimates Committee on Prisons and Borstals?

Mr. Peart

I said that I would carefully look into this matter. I did not say specifically a whole day on Supply. I said that I would do my best. I am having talks on this matter. I know that many hon Members on both sides of the House are anxious that this subject should be debated.

Mr. Maudling

In my recollection, the right hon. Gentleman definitely offered half a day. The only point at issue is whether half a day is enough or whether the whole day, which everyone wanted, would be right.

Mr. Peart

It is true that I did suggest a half day and I am sorry that it was not accepted. This is the difficulty. I know that many hon. Members feel very strongly that this subject should be debated. I undertake to look into the matter very carefully.

Mr. Turton

Further to the right hon. Gentleman's reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Mr. Gresham Cooke), do I understand that the Motion on Procedure is not being taken tonight, as is on the Order Paper, but that it will be taken on Monday?

Mr. Peart

That is true. I should like to have discussions on this matter. Perhaps we had better have a word about it later.

Mr. E. Rowlands

Would my right hon. Friend clear up what he said about the important debate on the Estimates Committee's Report on Prisons and Borstals? Will he give an assurance that it will be a whole-day debate? That was the bone of contention with members of the Committee last time.

Mr. Peart

I cannot commit myself. I have said that I will have further talks with my right hon. Friend about this subject.

Mr. Deedes

In view of the growing doubt on the subject, do the Government intend to enable the House to debate the question of the Channel tunnel before we are irretrievably committed to it?

Mr. Peart

That does not arise on business for next week. I will note what the right hon. Gentleman has said. It may be that we can have a debate on this very important matter later.

Mr. Ogden

Is my right hon. Friend aware that Report No. 62 of the National Board for Prices and Incomes on Increases in Rents of Local Authority Housing was published this afternoon? Would he try to find time for a debate on housing in the very near future?

Mr. Peart

My right hon. Friend has already made a statement about this very important Report. I think that it deserves consideration.

Sir C. Osborne

How soon will the prices and incomes legislation be introduced?

Mr. Peart

I hope that the Bill may be introduced in the middle of next week.

Mr. Wellbeloved

Would my right hon. Friend find time next week for a debate to restore public confidence in the ability of citizens to write to their Member of Parliament without fear of their letter being released for political purposes?

Mr. Peart

I note what my hon. Friend has said. He has stressed a very important right, but there is not time available next week to discuss it.

Sir T. Beamish

How much longer is the House to be kept in the dark about the future of the Territorial Army, the abolition of which was announced last January, since when there has been no statement whatsoever? Is this not a disgraceful state of affairs? May we have a statement next week?

Mr. Peart

I am aware that the hon. and gallant Gentleman has a deep interest in the Territorial Army, as have many of his colleagues and other hon. Members, on both sides. I will certainly convey his views to the Minister responsible.

Mr. Mackintosh

I appreciate that the time of the House is limited to very important and pressing matters, but would my right hon. Friend consider arranging for a debate to take place in the Scottish Grand Committee on the newly published Report on the Central Borders of Scotland which, to people in that area, merits discussion, if not necessarily time on the Floor of the House?

Mr. Peart

I note what my hon. Friend says. The more discussion we have in the Scottish Grand Committee, the better.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis

What will happen on Monday when we have Questions down to the Ministry of Labour, but there is no Minister of Labour, and when there is only a First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity? Will the right hon. Gentleman change the right hon. Lady's title back to "Minister of Labour", or will the name of the Ministry be changed before we reach those Questions?

Mr. Peart

The Ministry of Labour still exists. The change of status and occupation will take place on Thursday, 2nd May; I have stressed that. I do not think that we shall have any difficulty in getting someone to answer.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis

On a point of order. This puts the House in an extra-ordinary situation. On Monday, we shall have a Minister answering for a Ministry which will change within a week, and we have not a Minister representing that Ministry.

Mr. Peart

I do not think that this arises on Business questions, but I will look at the point. The matter of answering Questions and the change in the roster must be discussed through the usual channels, and that will be done.

Viscount Lambton

Would the right hon. Gentleman be more definite in his assurance that there will be a statement on British Honduras, bearing in mind that the Foreign Secretary earlier said that there would be a statement following the mediator's report? It is of the utmost importance that we have a positive assurance that there will be a statement in the near future.

Mr. Peart

In view of the importance of this matter, which one of the hon. Gentleman's colleagues stressed, I gave an assurance that I would convey what was said to the Minister responsible. I can do no more than that. I recognise the importance of this matter. I will do what I can.

Mr. Marten

In view of last week's statement about E.L.D.O., will the Government give time for a debate on space?

Mr. Peart

Not next week. This is a very important subject, and it may well be that we can discuss it at a later stage.