Motion made, and Question proposed,
That this House, at its rising on Friday, do adjourn till Monday, 20th January.—[Mr. Peart.]
§ 2 p.m.
§ Mr. Neil Marten (Banbury)
I rise to oppose this Motion on a fairly small geographical matter. Passing from Katmandu and Oban out to the Caribbean, I want to say a word about the Island of Anguilla, which has threatened to declare itself independent outside the Commonwealth on 8th January. I oppose this Motion, because, before the House rises, perhaps next Monday, we should have an opportunity in this House to debate this important matter. As the House knows this is a small island, but none the less the principles involved are of grave concern to other islands. It is an island of only 6,000 inhabitants—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The hon. Gentleman knows that he cannot debate now what he would wish to debate if we accede to his request and come back earlier, or stay later.
§ Mr. Marten
I realise that, Sir. I was explaining, for the benefit of those hon. Members who are unaware of the problem, that this island was given Associated Status in 1967 and that in June, 1967 it unofficially broke away from that associated status. Since then we have had a holding situation, thanks to the intervention of my hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher), the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Chapman) as well as an official of the Commonwealth Office, who has been there acting as administrator.
In October of this year the leader of the island came here for talks with the Government, together with Mr. Brad-shaw, Prime Minister of the Island of St. Kitts. It was because of Mr. Brad-shaw's behaviour that the Island of Anguilla declared itself independent of St. Kitts. Those talks took place, but no agreement was reached, and the two leaders went back to their islands, with the brief of trying to get together and work out an extension of the posting of this Commonwealth Office administrator. Unfortunately, these talks have broken down and we have heard through 1176 the Press that Mr. Webster the leader of Anguilla has decided that on 8th January, that is the day when the term of office of this Commonwealth Office official expires, he will declare independence not only of St. Kitts, but also of the Commonwealth.
It is wrong that we should rise before the House has had the opportunity to debate this matter. I would withdraw my objection to this if I could have an assurance from the Leader of the House that a Minister from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will go out there post haste to talk this situation over with the two leaders before 8th January. If someone went there and made proposals to the islanders—perhaps that they should come temporarily within the administration of the British Virgin Islands, or prolong the stay of Mr. Lee the administrator, or some special membership of the Commonwealth—a solution might be found and wiser counsels will prevail upon the leaders of the island not to declare independence.
I will willingly withdraw my opposition if I could have the assurance of the Leader of the House that a Minister would go out there during the Christmas Recess, before 8th January, to deal with this question.
§ 3.55 p.m.
§ Sir John Rodgers (Sevenoaks)
I would like to support my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten). Nothing could be more disastrous for those of us who have the interest of Anguila at heart than a U.D.I. on 8th January. I would urge the Government to look with favour at the suggestion that a Minister might be sent out before this date, either to prolong Mr. Lee's stay or put other proposals. If a Minister is not available, perhaps a deputation of hon. Members from both sides of the House could go out quickly and report to the Government.
§ 3.56 p.m.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmunds)
I oppose this Motion very strongly, mainly on behalf of my constituents. The people who elected me to Parliament do not understand, at a time when the nation is visibly in peril financially—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—and when there is a danger to our security, why the House of Commons, in which 1177 they repose their confidence and trust, should disappear from the national scene until the last week of January. My constituents, and, I imagine, those of many of my hon. Friends, believe that it would be a dereliction of duty if those whom they have elected to represent them were to remove themselves from the possibility of debating such issues.
If Parliament disappears now until 20th January it will sap the confidence of many of my constituents in the rô le of Parliament. I would like to tell the Leader of the House of some of the things my constituents feel the house ought to be doing instead of taking a holiday. We ought to be debating the state of the economy, which everyone knows is in an extremely bad way. The people in my area know that there will be more unemployment—
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Gentleman says that we ought to debate the state of the economy. He can do that only if he gets back earlier. He cannot do it now. He can list what he would like to debate, but he cannot debate now any of those things.
§ Mr. Griffiths
Perhaps I can list the things that I think should be debated. We certainly ought to be debating, before 20th January, the unemployment, which is rising, in West Suffolk. We ought to be debating, before 20th January, the falling private investment, which has handicapped the overspill programme in my constituency. We ought to be debating the problems that the local authorities face in having to make do with a 3½ per cent. increase when new schools and roads are badly needed. Those are the problems that the House should be dealing with and people do not understand why at this time it should be away until 20th January.
Against this background, more and more people are coming to the conclusion which all hon. Members will regret, that Parliament is no longer responsive to the things that matter to them. They are concluding that the House of Commons seems not to care about their local affairs.
Another reason the House should come back earlier, for that is what I ask, is that the people I represent look to the House not only as the protector of their local interests, but as the guardian of the nation. My 1178 constituents are extremely worried about the state of the nation. They feel that we should be debating the growing burden of international debt. They are worried that we owe more to the United States today than we did when we first borrowed money from the Americans in 1946. They are worried about, and feel that the House should be debating, the jeopardy of the £ sterling, and the security of our island.
If Parliament is to mean anything, it should be considering, during the difficult and dangerous weeks that lie ahead, the fact that the security of our island is being put at risk because we see our alliances crumbling, the relationship with the United States not what it was, the old Commonwealth ties being severed, and we are not yet in Europe. People feel that the House, rather than going into recess, ought to be here, debating a situation in which we may soon find ourselves, without the old Commonwealth, without the Anglo-American special relationship and not yet in Europe.
This growing sense among our constituents of their potential isolation in the world leads them to conclude that Parliament should be sitting, dealing with the business of the nation, and that hon. Members should not be sent home to their constituencies to allow the Government to get on with the business, which business my constituents no longer have confidence in the Government's capacity to manage. If Parliament is to leave Westminster from 20th December to 20th January, we are putting at risk the confidence that our constituents feel in this institution. There is not simply an economic crisis, there is an institutional crisis, and I suggest to the Leader of the House that he is putting at risk the prime institution, namely, the House of Commons, if at this time he dismisses it, when ordinary people feel that it should be here debating their problems.
I do not ask that we should give up our Christmas Recess, heaven forfend; I suggest only that when day by day hon. Members ask for a little more time to debate a Bill, when in the great debates on foreign policy or economic affairs so many are not able to get in, it is wrong that the House should be dismissed for so long a period. My plea is: can we not contemplate coming back at least a week earlier to deal with the affairs of the country that I, for one, have no 1179 confidence in the Government's ability to manage in our absence?
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. As I gaze round and see the number of hon. Members rising I would remind the House that, if hon. Members will look at the Order Paper they will see that we have a massive amount of business today. Brief contributions will be welcome.
§ 4.5 p.m.
§ Mr. John Peyton (Yeovil)
I oppose the Motion for a number of reasons. I suggest to the Leader of the House that the House of Commons should reassemble, say, at the end of the first week in January, so that we can have a report from the Government that they have not made an intolerable mess of things in the interval and, in particular, a report on one or two matters which I shall mention briefly.
First, the matter of the Falkland Islands has never yet been cleared up. The Government's intentions have never been fully revealed. I suggest that they should be revealed fully, if not now, at least on such an occasion as I have just mentioned. There is a good deal of anxiety to know from the Government, before we rise, if possible—and perhaps the Leader of the House will be good enough to convey this to his right hon. Friends the Foreign Secretary and the Secretary for Defence—to what extent, if at all, a possible negotiation with Argentina for the sale of warships is bound up with negotiations over the future of the Falkland Islands. Apparently, it was bound up previously with the decision to raise the ban on the import of meat from the Argentine. I see from the expression on his face that the Leader of the House is already acquainted with this matter, and I hope that he will convey to his colleagues our fears that the Government, once again, are up to their necks in some rather dirty work.
There is another matter which I hope will receive fair consideration from the Leader of the House. He may be aware from his previous tenancy in the Ministry of Agriculture that this country is bung full of stocks of foreign cheese imported at throw-away prices. This pile-up of stocks is creating great anxiety among 1180 many of my constituents and in the dairy industry. In fairness, the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Agriculture was good enough to see a deputation of some of my hon. Friends and myself the other day at the Ministry—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. With respect, the hon. Member is tempting himself. He must not debate cheese. He may ask for an opportunity to debate it.
§ Mr. Peyton
There can be no debate on this subject; I know of no argument that the Minister could put against me. I am not attempting to debate it; I am seeking to persuade the Leader of the House that the anxieties of the industry need attention from the Government in the near future. The industry will not be pleased to hear that the House of Commons, which anxiously awaits a report on the matter, is to rise for so long a period.
Then there is the matter of the negotiations on North Sea gas. Again and again uncomfortable announcements are made just after the House rises. I would like to have a general undertaking from the Leader of the House that there will be no nasty announcements immediately after we rise, as a Christmas present for the ever tolerant public. We would like to know whether an announcement will be made on North Sea gas, which has been long postponed and badly handled by the present Administration. If not, perhaps the Recess should be postponed.
My last point is that before we rise the Prime Minister ought to be given a chance to state specifically in the House the charges that he has made against rumour-mongers. One or two citizens were so ill-advised as to allow their hopes to run away with them in believing that the Government might resign, confessing their shame and their failure. Will the Leader of the House clear up this matter before we rise? Is it in future to be a criminal offence, or is it to be stigmatised as unpatriotic, to say that the Government cannot remain in office?
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member is drifting into the speech which he would be in order in making if he got the day to make it.
§ Mr. Peyton
I give you the absolute assurance, Mr. Speaker, that it would take a long time and that I would not 1181 dream of attempting to trespass on your patience so far. I merely ask the Leader of the House whether, before we rise, he will give a clear undertaking to the country that in voicing even ill-founded hopes they will not be stigmatised as unpatriotic.
§ 4.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Albert Booth (Barrow-in-Furness)
I am opposed to the House rising on 20th December for the Christmas Recess unless the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity tells us that she will intervene in the debate at Vickers (Barrow) or gives us a proper reason for not doing so. This dispute has deprived over 3,000 men of employment. It has lasted for over six months and has caused a great deal of hardship in the town of Barrow and the surrounding area.
I first wrote to the Secretary of State on this matter on 10th July. In my letter I pointed out that complete deadlock had been reached and that the intervention of her Department was necessary to achieve a solution. This was a view shared by the A.E.F., the principal union involved in the dispute at that time. I received a reply on 1st August which stated that there was no basis on which joint talks could take place under the chairmanship of a member of the Department of Employment and Productivity. This attitude has been maintained by the Minister and her Department since that date.
During the period which transpired between my writing that letter—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The hon. Gentleman cannot debate what he wants to debate. He wants the House not to go into recess so that it might debate the intervention of the Minister in the dispute. He can ask for that, but he cannot give details.
§ Mr. Booth
As always, I accept what you say, Mr. Speaker.
I was dealing with the subject which I wished to be debated should a debate be allowed. Among the issues which I would want to be debated are the expansion of this dispute from the time that it started and matters of demarcation about which the firm chose, against the normal practice of the industry, to place certain—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The hon. Gentleman is going into the merits of what he is seeking to have debated.
§ Mr. Booth
I accept your Ruling, Mr. Speaker, as always.
As a result of this dispute, men are without entitlement to unemployment or social security benefit. They are denied by the provisions of the National Insurance Act of any income. The Minister should indicate a willingness to make a statement to the House. If she does not do so, a situation of dispute and enmity will continue to obtain throughout my constituency during the Christmas period instead of one of peace and good will.
§ 4.13 p.m.
§ Sir Harmar Nicholls (Peterborough)
I was almost convinced by my hon. Friends that we should not accept the Motion. They gave very good reasons for not accepting it. However, on balance, I think that we should accept it and that we should go into recess.
I wonder whether a month will be long enough. Perhaps it should be a bit longer. The Government are punch drunk. They are deteriorating and almost disintegrating before our eyes. Apart from all the great issues on which the Government legislate, there are many administrative problems with which they should deal. If there were any chance that the Government would change their attitude and would pay some attention to Parliament's advice, I would join my hon. Friends because Parliament would be carrying out its function of trying to keep the Government in order. But the Government are nervous. They are almost tumbling apart because of their lack of control, for reasons which I cannot understand. The only thing which might revive them is a rest from having to face the truth and being shown how disastrous are their assessments of the situation.
It is in the nation's interest that we agree to the Motion. Unless the Government are recovered on 20th January, we should perhaps extend the Recess for another week or fortnight. I do not think that the people will be robbed of our advice. The Government pay attention only to what is said on television. They do not pay attention to what goes on in the House or in our Committees. Mr. Speaker's Conference made very sensible recommendations 1183 about what we should do, but the Government completely disregarded them and introduced something which was completely opposite to those recommendations.
The Government are so nervous and out of touch that we should give them a chance to recover. They are on the point of disintegrating and they are punch drunk from the truth. A month might be sufficient, but perhaps we should extend the Recess because, if Parliament is not sitting, the Government cannot introduce as much legislation. The legislation which they have introduced over the last three or four years has been disastrous for the nation. It might be poetic justice if we were to put them out of business legislatively for perhaps a month or even more.
If Parliament, which includes back benchers on the Government as well as the Opposition side, could unseat the Government, it would be worth coming back to do that. But there is no chance of the Government back benchers doing that. They rip and roar and prove how disastrous the Government are, but they never go into the Lobby to do something about it, which would do some good for the nation. Parliament is not in such a situation that it could make good use of the time which we would be giving ourselves if the Recess were reduced.
Let the Government have their rest. Let us hope that they recover their nerve and make a better assessment of the situation. I hope that when we return from the Recess the position will be marginally better; and if it is only marginally better, it will be an improvement on the disastrous situation which we have had for the last four years. However, I am not optimistic.
§ 4.18 p.m.
§ Mr. Frank Hooley (Sheffield, Heeley)
I beg leave to doubt whether the House should go into recess for 31 days while the situation in the Middle East is so disastrous and unstable. There is a grisly irony in the fact that the House will be taking what is called its Christmas Recess at a time when Palestine, which is the historic home of the Christmas festival, is torn by murder and strife, and no one can foresee the end to the conflict which has been going on there for 20 years.
1184 The House has a great reputation for concern with peoples who are persecuted or in trouble or difficulty as a result of conflicts not of their own making. I am sure that the House would be willing to express its concern by returning a day or two days earlier than the date in the Motion to discuss the plight of the Palestinians who live as homeless and destitute refugees in the Jordan Valley. I am sure that it would be willing to give up a day or half a day to consider the physical conditions of men and women and new-born babies huddled in tents on the bare plateau in the neighbourhood of Amman. It would do this the more readily if it had seen, as I have seen, the conditions in which these people are living.
Thirty-one days is all too long for us to absent our thoughts and discussions from a matter which not only concerns bitter human distress, but may imperil the peace of the world. It would be out of order if I were to elaborate the way in which world peace might be endangered by a renewal of the conflict in that part of the world. But I should like an assurance that, if the uneasy truce—it is scarcely a truce—along the line of the River Jordan were to flare again into open conflict on either side, the Government would see fit to recall the House before 20th January to debate, at length if necessary, and in depth, the problems facing that part of the world.
I do not know whether there are today any shepherds on the hills of Judea, but if there are they will not be expecting to see angels, but murder and death, in the skies above. This is a situation to which I am sure that the House is not inclined to be indifferent, and I would welcome a categoric assurance that if death and destruction break out in the Jordan Valley again within the 31 days which we have set aside for relief from the formal business of Parliament, the House will be recalled as a matter of urgency and the situation will be fully debated.
§ 4.21 p.m.
§ Mr. David Steel (Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles)
I wish briefly to seek an assurance from the Leader of the House before we agree to the Motion. During business questions last Thursday, I asked whether there was any possibility of the Minister of Transport making a statement before 1185 we rose for the Christmas Recess about the Edinburgh-Hawick-Carlisle railway line following publication of the independent report by a transport consultant, who was supported by all the local authorities in the area. My anxiety in the matter is based on the fact that it is proposed that passenger services be withdrawn on 6th January, which falls during the proposed Recess.
On Thursday, the Leader of the House expressed great sympathy and said that he would have a word with his right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport. I have had no indication since then. Following publication of the independent report, I sent to the Leader of the House various Press cuttings to let him see how sympathetically the report was received in Scotland, in particular, drawing his attention to the main finding of the report thatIt cannot be said that the Minister's case for ruling out the retention of the line north of Hawick stands on the evidence available.My reason for asking that the Minister of Transport should make a statement to the House is that the report suggested that there should be a stay of execution of the withdrawal of services from 6th January until about April, when the freight services will continue in any event. I want to know whether the Minister, having had time to read the report, will tell us before we rise for the Recess whether he will agree to that stay of execution.
The significance of this is that the unanimous view of all the experts and bodies available in Scotland has been that the Minister should look at this matter again. The Leader of the House will be aware that even the Church and Nation Committee of the Church of Scotland—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The hon. Member is sliding gracefully into a debate, from which he must slide out.
§ Mr. Steel
I shall attempt equally gracefully, Mr. Speaker, to slide out of the debate and merely repeat that so many bodies have given the unanimous view that this is an important matter and that the Minister should pronounce upon it.
My reason for asking particularly for the Minister of Transport to come to the House before we rise for the Recess is 1186 that I have today received a letter from the Chairman of the Scottish Railway Board, who states:I must make it clear that unless I am instructed otherwise, the passenger service will be withdrawn on 6th January as arranged. Any deviation from this could, I think, only arise if the Minister decided to give it a grant aid for the period of three months suggested in the report.It is right and proper that I should seek that assurance before the House rises on Friday.
§ 4.27 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis (West Ham, North)
As you, Mr. Speaker, and hon. Members on both sides are well aware, this is what we call a silly Recess debate. It takes place before every Recess, whether Christmas, Easter or Whitsun. Hon. Members, on both sides, give reasons why the House should not go into Recess, never debating their subjects but merely mentioning them in passing, because every hon. Member has probably made, if not complete, at least some, arrangements for being away during the Recess.
§ Mr. Michael Jopling (Westmorland)
If the hon. Member says that this is a silly debate, may I remind him that a year or 18 months ago he harangued us for over 20 minutes in one of these same debates?
§ Mr. Lewis
The hon. Member does not listen; I did not say that. I said that this was the silly season of Recess debates and I explained why. I was going on to say that we raise a number of issues which, we feel, should be debated without going into the reasons.
I want to make a suggestion which, I realise, will not be popular with you, Mr. Speaker. I do not think that it would be popular with the Government and I am sure that it would not be popular with the officials of the House. Knowing, however, that it is the custom on each Thursday for hon. Members, on both sides, to ask for time for debates, which the Government always refuse, I wonder whether it might be possible for my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House to consider a system whereby, say, those who want genuinely to come back a week earlier can do so for a series of Adjournment debates. On that basis, there would be no voting and no decisions would be taken. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] Obviously, they would be Adjournment 1187 debates, on which there are no votes. It might then be possible for a number of hon. Members genuinely and sincerely to raise burning topics which, they feel, should be discussed.
That might also give me the opportunity of raising a number of issues which I would like to mention. The first is the growing practice, under all Governments, past and present, for Ministers deliberately to evade giving Answers to Questions when the information is easily and readily available. I have raised a number of matters with the Ministers concerned, but without any satisfaction. I have now raised the matter with the Prime Minister and I am not at all sanguine that I shall get any results there. It is, however, true that on both sides, and under both Governments, one finds this happening.
I ask my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House to ask the Prime Minister and the Treasury that when an hon. Member puts down a Question asking for information which is readily available, the hon. Member should be given that information.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The hon. Member can argue that to bring us back earlier would enable Ministers to answer Questions in a better way.
§ Mr. Lewis
I was doing it the other way round, Mr. Speaker, and suggesting that perhaps we should go into recess a week later. I could then put down my Question, in the meantime the Minister could have a word with the Department and probably, for once, I might get the answer. I bow to your suggestion, however, Mr. Speaker, of coming back perhaps a week earlier. It does not matter whether we go a week later or come back a week earlier.
Unfortunately, over the past few months, I have found that the Government continually adopt the ideas and suggestions that the Tories want and their banker friends demand, and periodically the ideas and suggestions are brought in. A strong rumour is going round that the Government have agreed with the International Monetary Fund and the bankers to introduce big Government expenditure cuts in social services which are to be announced during the Recess. I hope that this is incorrect.
1188 That is one of the reasons why I would like us to go a week later or return a week earlier. I hope that we get a complete denial from my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House that such an announcement will not be made during the Recess, or that, if it is to be made, he will ensure that the House will be recalled so that the announcement can be made in the House.
That leads to the next point which I would like to have debated if we came back a week earlier or went a week later. I refer to the whole basis of the prices and incomes policy, which is phoney. We can never have proper discussion of it. If we came back a week earlier, one of the subjects which I would like to discuss, and which, perhaps, the Minister could arrange to have debated, is why references can be made to the Prices and Incomes Board for all industrial workers, but the Minister refuses to put to the Board questions concerning the increased salaries of directors of public companies. The pay of building workers is frozen—and I am not arguing the merits of the case—but if the chairman of a board gets an extra £5,000 a year—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. That would make a good beginning to a speech which the hon. Gentleman could make in a debate if we came back earlier.
§ Mr. Lewis
If I were to do that I should have to go into detail, and I should not want to do that, because that would be out of order. I am merely mentioning in passing that if the chairman of a board gets an increase of £5,000 a year nothing is done about it. I asked my right hon. Friend why this matter was not referred to the Prices and Incomes Board. I have given her notice of about 12 such cases, but my right hon. Friend does not do—
§ Mr. Lewis
I agree that I should have to go into detail. I think that I had better leave that there, because it does not appear that we shall come back a week early, or break up a week later, than is planned.
I think that we should debate the growing practice of the police raiding people's homes and taking liberties with the subject—[Laughter.] This is not a laughing 1189 matter. Hon. Gentlemen opposite perhaps read the details of the police having raided a home and found a lady in bed in her nightdress. I think that it will be understood that my words were not ill-chosen. We tend to laugh at these things, but no one knows what happens when the police raid someone's house. Only last week the police forcibly entered an ordinary working class home in my constituency, and, not for the first time, refused to show a warrant to support their action. I asked for an investigation. The House is going into recess next week, and I have at last discovered that the investigation for which I have asked will be carried out by the police. I do not think that that is fair and proper.
To deal with that kind of thing the Ombudsman's powers should be widened. We could well debate this matter if we had a little more time at our disposal. Alternatively, perhaps an independent inquiry could be set up to investigate such incidents. This is not a question of one isolated incident. There have been about a dozen cases in the Metropolitan Police area of the police tending to take liberties with the electorate. I shall not go into detail, because to do so would be out of order.
There is an important Motion on the Order Paper. I have not signed the Motion, so my only interest lies in the possibility of tabling an Amendment to it. It castigates the Chairman of the National Coal Board. This is an important Motion, which ought to be debated, because it is tragic that a man like Lord Robens, an ex-Labour Minister, having been appointed by the Tories, should be attacked in this way. In our discussion we might include the fact that the Labour Government have appointed an ex-Tory Minister, Lord Hill, to an important post. These two men are doing a good job, and now they are being attacked without any chance to speak for themselves, and without anyone here having an opportunity to speak for them.
There is a much more important matter at stake. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House will listen for a moment.
§ Mr. Lewis
I thank my right hon. Friend. I think that he is the only person who can confirm what I have heard. I have only the Press reports to go on, and one cannot always believe what one reads in the Press, but I have heard, and I am told, and I have read, that last week there was a conference at Chequers. [HON. MEMBERS: "It is a rumour."] I am told, too, that there were some leaks. I do not know whether they were official, but something has come out about a 3½ per cent. growth, and the T.U.C. having supported this idea. I now hear that the T.U.C. has denied doing any such thing. Perhaps my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport is telling the Leader of the House to confirm that such a conference was held.
We regularly hear of non-elected representatives being called to Chequers to draw up policies and programmes which are in direct conflict with the aims and policies of the Labour Party, which put the Government into power. Indeed, such programmes are more in line with the policies of the Tory Party, yet none of my hon. Friends, or those connected with the elected representatives of the people, are invited to discuss these matters, or, indeed, know anything about them.
What often happens is that after such an event we are presented with a White Paper. That is followed by the Government's proposals, and we are then told that the Government expect us to support them. We ought to debate these issues before there is this kind of conference. Perhaps my right hon. Friend will confirm that there was such a conference, and that there was the kind of discussion to which I have referred.
It is amazing how often rumours turn out to be true. An exception, of course, was the rumour that was started the week before last. I am told that everything is already laid on, and that there is in being an independent national incomes board, lorded over by an ex-Tory Minister, and appointed to it are people on whom the Government can rely. It has been suggested that this body might investigate the salaries of the chairmen of nationalised industries. I am told that this proposal has been leaked to see how it will go down with all concerned. I am told that the idea is to put the salaries up to £15,000.
1191 Hon. Gentlemen opposite call for cuts in Government expenditure. I expect that when the issue to which I have just referred comes to be considered there will be the usual agreement between the usual channels. It will mean that Ministerial salaries will have to be adjusted. If that happens, the salaries of backbenchers, too, will have to be adjusted, but the Government will still tell building workers that they have to put up with an increase of 3½ per cent. I do not want to go into this in detail, but we could discuss it at length if we were to come back a week earlier, or go away a week later.
The General Council of the T.U.C. is very annoyed because it has been accused of agreeing to things to which it has not agreed. Perhaps by the end of the week we shall know the truth of what went on at Chequers, but by then it will be too late to debate the issue. I shall not then be able to ask for a debate. I have to ask for it now, and to suggest that we break up a week later or come back a week earlier so that we can discuss this matter.
Another topic which is causing concern is the situation in Northern Ireland. Has the Prime Minister told the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland that he ought to adopt a more democratic approach? Was it my right hon. Friend who succeeded in bringing about the change that we have seen? If it was, I want to be the first person next week to pay tribute to my right hon. Friend and to congratulate him on his efforts. If the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland has done this of his own volition, I might pay tribute to him.
I ask the Government seriously to consider the possibility of having a number of Adjournment debates similar to those on the last day of term, to start a week earlier than it is proposed to return, so that those hon. Members who genuinely wish to debate various issues will have an opportunity of drawing the attention of the public and the Government to the various matters which they feel should be discussed at length.
§ 4.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Esmond Wright (Glasgow, Pollok)
I oppose the Motion for one reason in addition to those which have already been mentioned. It is that by 1192 20th January about 1,200 qualified teachers in Scotland will be dismissed from their posts. It is imperative, therefore, that we should hear from the Leader of the House or, better still, from the Secretary of State for Scotland, what are the Government's intentions towards the implementation of the recommendations of the General Teaching Council.
I will not go into the details of the matter, except to stress that if 1,200 teachers are dismissed, about 40,000 children's careers will be at risk, and a great many of them will be taking their O and H level examinations in the coming spring and early summer. The majority of these teachers are extremely experienced and are teaching physics and maths not only in Glasgow, but throughout Scotland in schools which are already short of staff. I need not add that already in Glasgow about 3,000 children are receiving part-time education.
Before 20th January, 61 teachers in Edinburgh will have been dismissed, as will five in Caithness and Sutherland. Over Scotland as a whole a Sword of Damocles is poised, ready to fall in the early and middle weeks of January. It is imperative, therefore, that before we rise on Friday we should have the Secretary of State's views in respect of the G.T.C.
This matter goes beyond the 1,200 teachers concerned. I will give an example of this from what is happening in my constituency, Shawlands Academy has a staff of 75, of whom 28 are under threat of dismissal. Two of them are deputy headmasters. Are we seriously asking the remaining 50 teachers to try to do the work of the 28 staff who will be dismissed? There is a danger that the rest of the staff will be forced to go on sympathetic strike in support of the teachers who will be dismissed, even if they do not choose to do so.
I ask the Leader of the House to obtain an assurance from the Secretary of State long in advance of 20th January about the Secretary of State's intentions concerning the G.T.C. I urge him to ask for the suspension of the regulations until the subject is clarified and to look with sympathy at the point raised by at least one of the educational associations, which is that of the 44 councillors on the G.T.C, only eight are truly representative of the teaching profession.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Sydney Irving)
Order. The hon. Gentleman is going too far into the details of this matter.
§ Mr. Wright
I am attempting to headline the main issues which, long before 20th January, require clarification.
I urge the Leader of the House, who was once a teacher, and the Secretary of State, who is also an ex-teacher, to think of the interests not only of the teaching profession in Scotland, but of the children whose future is at risk. I hope that they will suspend the regulations.
§ 4.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Ivor Richard (Barons Court)
I have not taken part in a debate of this kind during the four years in which I have been in the House. It is the sort of debate in which a large number of hon. Members rise, sometimes in good humour, to raise constituency points. Certainly, I cannot recall hearing the debate deviate into one of seriousness. [HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."] That is my view. However, on this occasion the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths) seemed to be taking the Motion seriously.
As I listened to the hon. Gentleman with great attention, as I always do, his speech became waspish in tone and malicious in intention. He claimed that the bogs of West Suffolk and the back streets of Barons Court were full of people concerned about Parliament rising for a month. "Parliament is adjourning and the Falklands are in danger", was the sentiment on the lips of thousands of people throughout the country. "We should not accept this. Parliament should not rise until this and other important matters have been settled", he gave us the impression they are all saying.
I wondered whether, in view of the seriousness of all these things, the hon. Gentleman intended to go on to demand that Parliament should sit on Christmas Day and Boxing Day and certainly on 1st January. But he suggested nothing of the sort. Instead, he recommended that we should return a week earlier, namely, on 13th January. We see, therefore, that the urgency of all the matters which he raised is not so great to demand our attention over Christmas, since he requires us to 1194 return only a week earlier than we intend to return.
What nonsense this all is. If one is to take the Motion seriously, one must accept that the nation needs a period of comparative peace and quiet. Frankly, there is nothing that so irritates the people of Bury St. Edmunds and the constituents of most of us than to read about hon. Member on both sides squabbling like alley cats over what is supposed to be wrong with our national life. Continual temperature-taking of the economy can do nothing but harm and I therefore propose not to join the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds in the Lobby in his burning desire to have the national navel exposed for the next few weeks.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ Mr. James Scott-Hopkins (Derbyshire, West)
I am in the happy position of being able to disagree with everything that was said by the hon. Member for Barons Court (Mr. Richard). His speech was neither funny nor serious. Indeed, I cannot think why he bothered to contribute to the debate.
The Leader of the House must accept, after the serious speeches that have been made, that there are many good reasons why we should not recess for as long as he is proposing. In any event, it is a week longer than we normally have for the Christmas Recess. It is certainly much longer than we should have in view of the various issues, both constituency and national, which need further consideration.
I wish to raise a number of topics and to explain why we should not recess for the length of time proposed. The first is the question of agriculture. My hon. Friend the Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton) mentioned the import of cheese and dairy products. While I will not labour the point, I trust that the Leader of the House, who is familiar with this subject, will do his best to get his right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to make an announcement on this issue at the first possible moment. We cannot afford to wait until 20th January to hear the right hon. Gentleman's decision.
On another agricultural topic, we have been told by the Minister of Agriculture on several occasions that he would be making a statement about the Egg 1195 Marketing Board at the beginning of December. That statement has so far not been made and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be given an opportunity to make it before Christmas, although I doubt whether that will happen. If not, I sincerely hope that the Leader of the House will, when replying to this debate, give an assurance that his right hon. Friend will make a statement at a very early date. If he cannot give that assurance, we should not allow Parliament to recess for Christmas. A decision must be made about the reorganisation. The egg industry is in a muddle and a decision is vital if its future is to be secured. The Minister of Agriculture promised to make a statement at the beginning of December and it is scandalous that he has not made it.
Another matter which requires our early attention and which cannot wait until 20th January is that of education. There is an unholy mess in educational circles as a result of the decision of the Government on the school building programme, particularly concerning major projects and the conversion of schools for comprehensive purposes. In West Derbyshire, this state of affairs is particularly apparent and the education authorities there do not know whether they will be able to continue with their plans—which, it should be remembered, were put to and agreed by the Minister. We must have an opportunity to debate this matter and discover what local education authorities will be allowed to do and how quickly they will be allowed to do it to get the comprehensive system really working. This system has already been accepted in some parts of the country, but many improvements are necessary if it is to work.
The next point I wish to raise concerns transport. The two villages of Sudbury and Bradwell, in my constituency, have main roads running through them and children's lives are at risk. I am not referring to British Standard Time, although this, too, is a burning issue in my part of the country. I have been trying to get money made available for these roads to be improved so that the lives of my constituents, and particularly children, are not at stake. I should like to be able to raise this subject. There will be no opportunity between now and 1196 our rising on Friday, and the topic should not wait to be aired until 20th January.
Lastly, we should have an early debate in the House on the much wider question of the facilities available in mental health, particularly for the treatment of mentally disturbed teenagers. There are only 16 units capable of receiving and treating such persons. This is a scandalous state of affairs. More money should be made available. The Government should give encouragement to the raising of money privately and voluntarily.
These are the four reasons why I oppose the Motion and submit that the House should return, not just a week early but, if necessary, two weeks early. There was merit in the suggestion of the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis) that the House should return a week or 10 days early and have a series of Adjournment debates, but on the matter of the Egg Marketing Board organisation and the import of dairy produce I would prefer full debates and votes, because I disagree with Ministerial policy on that issue.
I beg the Leader of the House not to treat this plea lightly, as he was asked to do by the hon. Member for Barons Court. This is a serious matter. We are all deeply concerned, not only about our constituency problems but also those of the nation.
§ 4.51 p.m.
§ Mr. George Willis (Edinburgh, East)
I have much sympathy with the plea made by the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) concerning the Edinburgh-Hawick railway line and with the plea made by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. Wright) concerning the teachers' dispute. In effect, both hon. Gentlemen plead for a statement before the Recess rather than for a shortening of the Recess.
I am opposed to shortening the Recess. In my constituency there is no great enthusiasm for Parliament meeting longer than it has to. Many of my constituents think that we spend far too much time talking already. My constituents are not like those of the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths). The hon. Gentleman's constituents seem to be most depressed. Having frequently listened to his speeches in the House, I 1197 am not surprised. My constituents are not depressed at Christmastime. They will be happy. They want to forget politics. They say "A plague on both your Houses. Let us forget it all for a time." My constituents are not defeatists.
§ Mr. Willis
I am not a defeatist. The speeches the hon. Gentleman made have not persuaded me that he contributes so much to national affairs that an extra week in which he could make more speeches would take the country out of its difficulties.
The constituents of the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds seem to be very worried about the state of national security, a subject which we debated only yesterday. Does the hon. Gentleman think that the best way of allaying the fears of his constituents is for the Government to say that Parliament must meet during the next two or three weeks because our position is insecure?
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths
The right hon. Gentleman has not got the point. My point is that my constituents do not trust the Government and they would rather Parliament were here keeping an eye on the Government, because they do not trust them to be left alone.
§ Mr. Willis
The hon. Gentleman said his constituents were worried about the nation's security. The worse way of seeking to allay their fears would be for Parliament to sit during the Recess because Parliament thought that the nation was in such an insecure position. That course of action would tend to exacerbate the fears of the hon. Gentleman's constituents, if such fears exist.
There is a good case for having a Recess of at least a month, or five weeks, or even longer. Hon. Members opposite need a rest. I have never seen such a poor Opposition in all my time in the House. At one time I used to hang on to every word uttered by the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton), but the hon. Gentleman now repeats himself, and everybody knows in advance what he is going to say. I think that it would do him good to spend three months down 1198 in the West Country thinking up a few new ideas and a few new methods of attack. Then he would return regenerated and entertain us as he did before.
§ Mr. Peyton
I am very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his kindly tribute to myself. We all have much to learn from him in the matter of opposition. None of us has mastered the art of speaking at length to anything like the degree that he does, which makes him the unchallenged master of the art.
§ Mr. Willis
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that tribute. He will admit that I am showing my gratitude by expressing my concern for him. I want to see him doing likewise. I want to see a vigorous Opposition and, what is more important, an Opposition who have ideas. It would be a good thing if the Tory Party took a three-month Recess and thought out an alternative policy.
§ Mr. Alan Lee Williams (Hornchurch)
Only last week we had a debate on foreign affairs in which the Opposition ran out of speakers and the Whips had to run around and find Members to speak.
§ Mr. Willis
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for reinforcing my argument I have never seen such a poor Opposition.
§ Mr. Tim Fortescue (Liverpool, Garston)
On a point of order. What possible relevance does this speech have to the Motion?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Sydney Irving)
I am listening to the right hon. Gentleman very carefully. I will call him to order when it is necessary.
§ Mr. Willis
I am trying to show my reasons for thinking that we should adjourn, not merely for four weeks, but for five weeks and possibly longer. It would benefit Opposition Members and make them more vigorous. They would have time to think out a few more ploys and—this is vitally important—they would be able to think out an alternative policy to what the Government are doing. We do not get that at present. It might be a good thing for the nation were it presented with a realistic alternative to what the Government are doing. This is what democracy means. Therefore, the proposed Recess is very suitable—
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
Does my right hon. Friend believe, after all his years of experience here, that five weeks, or even five months, would enable the Opposition to think up any programme? They had 17 years. If they could not do it in 17 years, how does he expect them to do it in five weeks?
§ Mr. Willis
I am by nature an optimist. I like to think the best of my fellow men, even if they are my political opponents. I like to think that they would be able to come up with an alternative policy.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. I think that the right hon. Gentleman is going into too much detail in his submission to the House on this account.
§ Mr. William Baxter (West Sterling-shire)
On a point of order. I am listening with great care to the speech of my right hon. Friend. Surely his argument is directed to showing why we should not accept the Opposition's plea, but should agree to adjourn the House and have the Recess as proposed by the Government. I believe that my right hon. Friend is presenting an excellent argument.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
My remarks were directed to the right hon. Gentleman's detail rather than to his submission.
§ Mr. Willis
I do not want to say a great deal more. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] If the Opposition wish me to continue, I do not mind. I could reinforce my arguments. Let us, for example, take the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor).
§ Mr. Willis
I am sure that every member of the Scottish Group could make the speech of the hon. Member for Cath-cart. He needs a rest so that he can prepare some new speeches. We know all his speeches by heart. We could make them ourselves, and do it much better than he does. He needs a rest of four or five weeks so that he may apply his mind to getting new material and preparing new speeches. It would do him good. But he is not alone. Many other hon. Members would equally benefit from a five-week Recess or even longer.
1200 I am convinced that the majority of people in my constituency will not begrudge the House not sitting for five weeks. On the contrary, they will be glad that, for some time, we shall stop talking and let them get a rest from politics.
§ 5.2 p.m.
§ Sir John Langford-Holt (Shrewsbury)
I do not think that his speech did much credit either to the right hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) or to this institution.
We are used to hearing Leaders of the House proclaim, at intervals, the necessity for Parliament to go into recess for an adequate length of time while, at the same time, week after week, with tears in their eyes, saying they are unable to find time for various debates. I have re-read the business questions of the last two weeks. Apart from many minor problems which hon. Members have wished to raise, there have occurred some serious queries and problems which hon. Members have wished to see ventilated by Parliament.
For example, the Chairman of the Estimates Committee complained that his Committee was unable to examine all the Estimates put in front of it. Then there was the debate, or non-debate, on Biafra, which was included in the Foreign Affairs debate. The various issues were so muddled up that the House could not see what it was doing. In the vote, some hon. Members voted against the Government's negotiations over the Falkland Islands, some for stronger intervention in Biafra, and some may even have been voting on Gibraltar and other topics.
§ Mr. Robert Maclennan (Caithness and Sutherland)
The right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) made it clear that the Opposition intended to divide the House on the question of the Falkland Islands. Nigeria had nothing to do with it.
§ Sir J. Langford-Holt
Not every hon. Member was voting on the Falkland Islands. Others were voting on the question of Biafra. That is quite clear to me from the debate and from the Division list.
§ Mrs. Anne Kerr (Rochester and Chatham)
Does not the hon. Gentleman 1201 agree that some hon. Members voted on both the Falkland Islands and on Biafra?
§ Sir J. Langford-Holt
The hon. Lady is confirming what I have been saying. In any case, the whole debate came out of Opposition and not Government time.
During all my years here, I have never seen a statement by the Chairman of the Estimates Committee of the day turned away quite so casually as it was by the Leader of the House, who invited him not to be too pessimistic. There are, of course, other problems with Select and Specialist Committees. If ever a debate was necessary it is one that should be held to consider the situation between this House and the Executive in the light of the Treasury's decision on how many Clerks the House is to have—rather like the fox saying how many people shall accompany the hounds when they are hunting it. It is for us to decide these matters and not for the Treasury or any other outside authority.
If time cannot be found while Parliament is sitting for the Estimates Committee, then time should be found for it during the Recess. I do not use the expression "holiday" because all hon. Members have other parliamentary duties than to sit in this Chamber. I know that a Recess is necessary as much for the Government as for Parliament as a whole, but the Recess which is contemplated is too long.
Then there is the Sixth Report of the Services Committee, which is fundamental to the efficiency and work of the Chamber. We need to debate that Report, which is vital also to the relationship between hon. Members and their constituents and between the House and the Executive. There are several other matters, such as the disbandment of the Select Committee on Agriculture. That disbandment is disgraceful, particularly since the Government's explanation is that the Committee cannot carry on because there are not sufficient Clerks to man it. The Leader of the House should see that hon. Members have the resources to do their job.
I do not want to argue one side or the other in dealing with Biafra today, but I remind the House that we discussed Biafra during the Summer Recess only 1202 because the Russians invaded Czechoslovakia. It was quite clear on that occasion that, rightly or wrongly, the House wished to have a vote on the subject. In all my years here I have never seen such a disgraceful manoeuvre as that adopted by the Government to preventing a vote on that occasion. The House should have an opportunity, whatever one's views, to discuss Biafra, and this time as a subject on its own so that hon. Members may devote their whole attention to the problem. The House has the right even to be wrong.
About 100 Early-day Motions have been put down by hon. Members. Many of them are fatuous, but many deal with subjects which hon. Members wish to discuss and if we fail to discuss them we do so at our peril.
§ 5.9 p.m.
§ Mr. John Lee (Reading)
I agree with the closing remarks of the hon. Member for Shrewsbury (Sir J. Langford-Holt) about Biafra. It is a thousand pities that the House goes away again without Biafra being discussed in a debate on its own. It is surely a matter of sufficient importance for debate. It has aroused enough feeling inside and outside the House to warrant one.
The hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) gave as a reason for not adjourning, or at least for abridging the Recess, the impending execution of a railway line. My reason for requiring the recall of the House earlier than contemplated, even if the Adjournment cannot be delayed beyond this week, is the possible execution of a number of people.
I refer to a number of people who have been lying under sentence of death in Rhodesia for a very considerable time. I refer to their lying under sentence of death, but that may beg questions whether they are subject to any legal jurisdiction. In certain cases—and it is fair to say that it only adds to the poignancy of the situation—they have been under sentence of death for so long that sentence was passed on them before the high treason of November, 1965, took place. I suppose that it is ironical that these at least may be legally held in duress.
1203 Before we rise for the Christmas Recess it is incumbent on us to give some thought to their fate. Whatever may be the arguments for or against capital punishment—and the House has already taken its decision of that matter, subject to a Resolution in two years' time—there can be nothing but revulsion against a situation that permits people to lie under sentence of death at the hands of a group of people who have themselves committed an offence which also carries capital punishment, namely, high treason—
§ Mr. Lee
I appreciate that, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
I hope that the Leader of the House will give us an assurance that if, during the next four or five weeks, it is apparent that the execution of any of these people is imminent, the House will be recalled so that we may be able to express an opinion, if not to discuss what retaliatory action we should take in regard to what would be an outrage against our constitution.
Of the many reasons that hon. Members have produced in favour of the House either not going into recess at the end of this week or returning earlier than the date proposed, none is of quite the same degree of gravity except, perhaps, the situation in Biafra.
Another reason sufficiently important to justify our staying on is that we should know whether or not the Government intend to have an inquiry into those City activities which gave rise to such grave embarrassment some ten days ago. I do not expect my right hon. Friend to give us any kind of exposition to improve on the Government's economic policy, but we might get some idea of whether the Government intend to take note of the opinions expressed by a large number of hon. Members, by no means from one section of the party, who have said that they want an inquiry into the City of London's speculative activities; that they want it now, and that they want it to be in public.
Although everyone welcomes at least one of the events that have taken place in Northern Ireland in the last few days, 1204 it is, nevertheless, desirable that at an early date we should have a debate into what is a taxpayers subsidised Tory Party police State in Northern Ireland—
§ Mr. Lee
I do not want to go into the merits of the present position there, if merits there be, but it should be well known to my right hon. Friends that a debate on this subject would attract a wide measure of support on this side of the House.
Two other matters, though of less importance, also demand early attention. There is the continuing situation at the Hornsey College of Art—[Laughter.] Hon. Members opposite may laugh. Of course, the subject is not in the same plane of importance as the others I have mentioned—but it concerns many people especially many students and the livelihood of those who work at the college. Some of us would like to know when it can be considered.
The present power of the Minister of Housing and Local Government to prevent the sale of council house land is very limited. My Tory-controlled local authority in Reading is minded to get rid of a lot of the land it owns. When can we have a debate on this subject, and when can we have a promise of legislation so to extend the Minister's powers as to enable him to veto the sale of council house land which, in most cases, has been done out of malice and with a view to stultifying a proper housing programme?
I give those as reasons for the House either to depart later, or to come back somewhat earlier, and with good grace.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Alick Buchanan-Smith (North Angus and Mearns)
I do not intend to follow the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. John Lee), except to say that if people like himself and some of his hon. Friends showed rather more responsibility towards some great problems such as those in Northern Ireland, those problems would not be built to such proportions.
I suggest four matters which the House should have an opportunity to discuss before rising or should come back to 1205 discuss at a date earlier than that proposed. I support my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. Wright) on the question of the dismissal of teachers in Scotland. That is very serious for all aspects of Scottish education. We must know more about it, because by the time we come back on the suggested date many of the education authorities will have had to take certain very serious decisions affecting not only the future of these teachers themselves, but the staffing of the schools.
My next item is the reorganisation of egg marketing. I will not repeat the arguments that have already been advanced, except to say that in areas such as that I represent, away from the consuming centres, it is essential for producers to have some form of organised marketing. The great concern in those areas is affecting both production and producers' plans for next season. I hope that before we rise for the Christmas Recess we can have some assurance, so that the producers may know where they stand.
My next point is more local, and relates to a very grave threat hanging over employment in North-East Scotland—the threatened closure of the locomotive works at Inverurie, Aberdeenshire. It is already the subject of an Adjournment debate by the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West (Mr. James Davidson), but I want the Leader of the House to realise that closure would affect many men's jobs. We do not know whether the closure is to take place but, regardless of political party, all of us in North-East Scotland are concerned. It is essential that a proper answer be given before the House rises.
The subject of British Standard Time has been raised during business questions for the last few weeks, but we have had no opportunity to debate it. By 20th January the days will, mercifully, be longer. Are the Government waiting until then before making a definitive statement of their attitude? Are they, perhaps, hoping that the protests against this disastrous experiment will be stilled by then because the days have lengthened?
As hon. Members we have a duty to voice the protests of our constituents. We have: not been given that opportunity. I ask that we should have an opportunity 1206 to debate it before the end of this week, or that we should have a statement from the Government, or that we should come back while our constituents are still experiencing these conditions—before it becomes just a memory, which is appears the Government are trying to make it.
The Home Secretary promised a review. We want to know what form that review will take. We want to hear what benefits British Standard Time is bringing to the country. We also want to say to Ministers what tremendous inconvenience and discomfort is caused for people. If we wait until 20th January we shall not have the opportunity to question Ministers about the vague answers they have given so far on this subject.
I ask the Government to take another look at the proposal for this length of Recess. If we could have statements about the points I have raised, I would reconsider my opposition to this Motion. The most important subject is that of British Standard Time. I hope that we shall have a proper answer on that this afternoon.
§ 5.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Alan Lee Williams (Hornchurch)
I wish to speak in favour of the Motion that we should adjourn for the time proposed so that the Minister of Transport may reconsider the decision he has taken in respect of the Upminster-Emerson Park-Romford line, which affects my constituency, a decision which will cause great hardship locally. I hope that the opportunity will be taken during the Recess to reconsider that decision.
It is important that the Minister of Transport should also consider the continuing problems of the Thames lighterage industry, which is faced with a great deal of uncertainty. I hope that this matter will receive urgent attention as soon as the House reassembles. Without going into the merits of the subject, I hope that the Minister of Transport will also take the opportunity of the Adjournment to consider investment grants in respect of tug boats plying on the Thames.
My main reason for speaking in favour of the Motion is that it will give an opportunity for hon. Members particularly hon. Members opposite, to do some background reading. Part of the constitutional crisis referred to by the hon. Member 1207 for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths) is that too many hon. Members, particularly those opposite, speak in hysterical, excitable terms, and a little background reading for them would improve the situation. The hon. Member over-iced the cake. He is well known in the House for making long quotations from learned documents which he has read.
I advise hon. Members that not only does the Adjournment give an opportunity for reading, but also for an evaluation of that reading. Although it is true that the nation faces unparalleled perils economically and in foreign affairs, there is no substitute for understanding the problem by having it properly evaluated.
§ Mr. Williams
No I shall not give way to the hon. and learned Member—to any other hon. Member, yes.
§ Sir Harmar Nicholls
On a point of Order, Mr. Deputy Speaker, is it not a recognised convention of the House that when an hon. Member mentions the name of another hon. Member he gives way to him?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
It is for the hon. Member concerned to decide whether he will give way. Mr. Alan Lee Williams.
§ Mr. Williams
I did not see the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds rise. I saw only the hon. and learned Member for Antrim, South (Sir Knox Cunningham) rise.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths
I accept at once that the hon. Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Alan Lee Williams) is always courteous and I agree with him on a great number of things. I am glad to hear that in his opinion the nation faces unparalleled perils both in economic and foreign policy. Does he think that they can be properly evaluated more when Parliament is not in session than when it is in session?
§ Mr. Williams
The whole burden of my intervention is that these matters should be properly evaluated by hon. 1208 Members, but there is no point in exaggerating them.
The Leader of the House will face a challenging few months with very important legislation on matters coming before the House during this Session. We should pay tribute to him for the way in which he has faced his task and the challenges which lie ahead.
§ 5.25 p.m.
§ Mr. David Crouch (Canterbury)
I am sure, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that it is your wish that we should speak briefly in this debate, but I think that this is the most important moment before the House rises. Voices have been raised from both sides of the House about matters which concern both the nation as a whole and parts of the nation in our constituents' problems. This is a moment when Members of Parliament have the right to question whether the Government should seek that the House should go into recess for a month.
I wish not to voice the particular views of my constituents, but to emphasise a view which, I think, exists throughout the nation—that there is something wrong in the state of Britain today and that it is wrong for us to go from this House for a month into recess while others can voice an opinion on the progress or otherwise of our nation. I am not concerned that we might make speeches in our constituencies or in the country, or write or read articles in the Press, or attend meetings between politicians and industrialists, industrialists and trade unionists, or industrialists and others, wherever they occur. The foundation of democracy rests in this place, the House of Commons.
The nation we represent—let us not forget that we still sit as representatives of the people, as a parliamentary democracy—believes that we have a job to do here. If ever there were a case in recent history in peacetime when we should not retire into recess it is now when the problems of the nation are being swept under the parliamentary carpet and that then we should return to see what has arisen for us to tidy up. [Interruption.] Does the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence) wish to interrupt?
§ Mr. Crouch
I wish to put before the Leader of the House some of the problems which face us and which I think to be of sufficient importance to require him to think again and to recommend to his colleagues in the Cabinet that it is wrong for us not to come back sooner than 20th January. We are faced with a great problem which is under discussion among the public and in the technical and the economic Press and in banking circles, namely, whether our currency should go on to a floating rate. That problem requires great thought.
May be, as the right hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) suggested, the Recess will give us an opportunity for such thought. I accept that there is a value in recess for hon. Members to give thought to such matters and to return refreshed, encouraged and with greater vigour to face problems, but there is the danger that events may change so quickly that we have to return earlier to consider some of the problems which are facing us.
One problem concerns the all-important question hanging over this House and the nation about the future of the £, which is still lying on the floor. Last Sunday, there was an article by my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) on the question of a floating rate, which he is clearly against. But there are also views on the other side. I will not seek to weary the House, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and get you on your feet, by arguing and debating that case. I would merely say that there is a debate in the air and it should take place soon after Christmas.
Equally, there is the matter of the rate of investment in the private sector of British industry. Only last Sunday there was this most important meeting at Chequers. Surely one of the most important things to be considered there, which this House does not yet know about, was the rate of investment in the private sector of industry. Why is it so slack and sluggish? This House demands to know and demands to see a move forward in 1969. Yet we are to wait a month without knowing what is happening when industry is poised on an opportunity, a chance, to make progress and succeed.
I know from my contacts in industry that there is no doom and depression in 1210 industry today. But doom is being preached by the communicators in our society in the Press and on television. These are the great depressors. We, in this House, can give a lead, and we look to the Leader of the House for that lead and opportunity. We must give that lead soon, not too late.
This is not a time for others outside this House to take over from the Government Front Bench. Already there are signs of movement and voices being raised outside this Chamber to take over from the Government Front Bench. I look to the Leader of the House, who I know regards this as a serious point, to return to this House the fulcrum of control in our public life. He cannot let it fall through his hands.
I have asked the Leader of the House before to consider things which I believe we should discuss. One matter that I believe we should give ourselves time to discuss is the reform, not of the other place, but of this House of Parliament and the Committee rooms above. I may be called a reactionary, I may look a reactionary, but I am very progressive in this sense. The Leader of the House knows that I have never been against ideas put before us by his predecessor. I should like to see more opportunity given to this House to perform its real function of progressive government. I should like to see action by Select Committees examining proposals before action by the Government is taken, not afterwards. I should like to have ideas from the Government put before Select Committees. Let us have more Select Committees, but let us give the House more time to have Select Committees.
The Leader of the House has a serious problem before him and he may require time. It is not enough to come before us on Thursday afternoons and say, "I cannot give time". We require him to give time, and he will have to find time.
I no longer sit on the Select Committee on the Nationalised Industries. But why has it not been called this last autumn? Not once has it sat. The Committee has not been reconstituted. Yet it did invaluable service in preparing a Report for the Government and for Parliament.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Sydney Irving)
Order. The hon. Member is 1211 now entering into argument of the case. He must return to the Motion.
§ Mr. Crouch
I think that I have made my point. I apologise if I detained the House longer than I should have done.
One other relevant point I should like to bring to the attention of the House and the right hon. Gentleman concerns industry. This point has often been raised at Question Time and is increasingly being raised outside the House. Industry is poised to help the nation succeed and the trade unions are poised to co-operate with industry, with management and with this House to go forward and raise our productivity and our wealth to help us achieve our aim. But industry has the Government sitting on its back too much. We have too many industrial and economic Ministries sitting on the back of industry today, and we want time to discuss this matter. I ask the Leader of the House to bear this point in mind.
§ 5.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Cyril Bence (Dunbartonshire, East)
I did not intend to speak in the debate, but I was roused by some remarks of the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch). I will be brief, but I must take up his point about this House being the most essential and vital part of our Parliamentary democracy. It is an essential part, but I have always held the view, in the 17 years that I have been here, that the essential element in our democracy is the people of Britain. They are a solid group of people with a long tradition and reputation for sound common sense. The people make our democracy work, not this Chamber. We also have an excellent Civil Service and an excellent free Press. These are the elements of our democracy as it is today. The fact that this Chamber goes into recess—neither the Government nor the Civil Service goes into recess—will not undermine that democracy.
I can understand the hon. Gentleman and my hon. Friends who, on the Adjournment, raise constituency issues, but the hon. Gentleman wants to make it a constitutional issue. This is absolutely pompous humbug.
§ Mr. Crouch
If the hon. Gentleman, who normally addresses the House with great wisdom and experience, as I acknowledge, is suggesting that we leave it to Whitehall, Westminster might as well 1212 retire. I do not understand his point of view.
§ Mr. Bence
I am not suggesting that we should go into recess for 12 months, although by the insistence of demands for Prayers I get the impression that some hon. Members would like that. The hon. Gentleman talks about not going into recess, but staying here. I do not know what all the trunks, bags and suitcases down in the cloisters are doing. I do not know whether they are going on their own. For the hon. Gentleman to suggest that this House going into recess for one month will put the country in dire peril is quite wrong.
The hon. Gentleman has really blown the gaff. I do not know whether he intended it, but his words were clear. He said that there is no gloom and dismay in British industry. I know that throughout British industry the order books axe full, the employers are happy, and everyone is doing better than for years. I assume that is what the hon. Gentleman means.
A famous British car has just won the rally to Sydney, and another famous British car of a company I know well has come second.
§ Mr. Bence
It was a B.M.C. 1800. There is no story of gloom. Everything is prosperous. The hon. Gentleman is worried that Parliament will not be sitting for hon. Gentlemen opposite to make speeches to be reported. However, they will be able to make speeches in their constituencies. They will not condemn industrial efforts in their constituencies, but they can do it here. Therefore, the exercise, from the hon. Gentleman's point of view, is to have this Chamber sitting so that the Opposition can put down hundreds of Questions, which are often almost irrelevant—[Interruption.]—I was in Opposition a long time, so I know something about putting Questions to the Executive. We know what they are about and we know the function of the Opposition.
I approve of the Opposition opposing, but not from the hon. Member's standpoint. Other hon. Members have raised legitimate points but he tried to create the impression that all our industry, commerce, monetary system and, indeed, the 1213 morality of the State, depend on this Chamber meeting four days a week, with an hour for Questions followed by debates on all manner of subjects. It does not. This is an essential part, but only a part, of the democratic system.
It is a good thing for us all to meet constituents. No doubt it is good for hon. Members to go to the Riviera, Bermuda and the West Indies for their holidays. Most of us cannot afford to do it, but hon. Members opposite can. The more that one learns about the world, the more one can apply oneself to one's own country, but I dislike the pomposity of the claim that it is not our people but this House that is the essential element of democracy. I believe that the finest buttress of democracy is the common people in industry, commerce and services.
§ Mrs. Anne Kerr
Would my hon. Friend agree that it would greatly help ordinary people if medical services, a legal and secretarial service and proper accommodation were provided for hon. Members so that they were able to answer the needs of their constituents?
§ 5.42 p.m.
Mr. Ian Mat-Arthur (Perth and East Perthshire)
My hon. Friends the Members for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. Wright) and North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith) have mentioned the educational problem which we in Scotland face and I want to return to this question on another aspect of the argument. I hope that the Leader of the House will assure us either that a statement will be made before the end of this week or that he will agree to provide for the House to sit on Monday so that we may have a statement or a full debate.
I raised this question with the right hon. Gentleman last Thursday and asked if there would be a statement this week. With his; usual courtesy, he said that he would consult the Secretary of State. Has he completed those consultations and will a statement be made? If there is to be no statement, I trust that we will have a debate on the matter on Monday.
1214 The need for an early statement or debate arises from the fact that Scottish local authorities are required by law to provide education but at the same time are now required to dismiss 1,200 of the qualified teachers who provide it. This is an absurd position. It is a quandry in which local education authorities and teachers have been placed by the Government's incompetence and by the fact that, when the Government introduced the Regulations which caused this position, they were themselves in ignorance of the facts and gave the House a totally wrong impression.
The Regulations required local authorities to dismiss teachers who had not registered with the General Teaching Council. When they were laid, we prayed against them, one of our primary reasons being the need to discover how many teachers were affected. We were assured by the Government that, although the pricise number could not be ascertained then, it was very small. The Minister who replied to the debate repeated the words "very small".
While I accept that he spoke in good faith on his available advice at the time, the repeated use of the words "very small" gave the House a reassurance which we now find was totally unjustified, and for which the Minister apologised last week—
§ Mr. Willis
On a point of order. You have previously ruled, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that we are not to discuss the merits or adduce the arguments about some matter which we would like to raise I suggest to you that that is what the hon. Member is now doing.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Sydney Irving)
I am afraid that the right hon. Gentleman must leave the Chair to decide that.
§ Mr. MacArthur
It was largely because of that assurance to the House that the Prayer was withdrawn, yet last Wednesday—
§ Mr. George Lawson (Motherwell)
Further to that point of order. May we take it that we will be permitted to continue this discussion in the same vein as the hon. Member?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
I would hope that the Chair will treat all hon. and right hon. Members in the same way.
§ Mr. W. Baxter
Further to that point of order. I have listened with a good deal of interest not only to the debate but to the Rulings from the Chair. I had occasion to intervene after a Ruling against my right hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) and I should like to balance this and see how far the debate can go without one side being called to order as against the other.
§ Mr. MacArthur
I have some sympathy with right hon. and hon. Gentlemen who have raised these points of order, because I can understand that they and their colleagues are now gravely embarrassed to discover that the House of Commons was misinformed, indeed misled, although in good faith—I accept that—and that we therefore reached a decision last month critical to education in Scotland on information which was wholly wrong. It is because of that that I believe that a statement or a debate is essential before we rise for the Recess.
Last Wednesday, five weeks after the debate in which these statements were made, we were told that the number of qualified teachers—
§ Mr. J. Bruce-Gardyne (South Angus)
On a point of order. I submit to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker that my hon. Friend the Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur) is advancing arguments for saying that we should have a statement on this matter urgently before we rise. Surely that is in order in this debate?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
The hon. Member is perfectly in order in advancing arguments as to why we should not go into recess or should come back earlier, but he has identified the problem very clearly already and should now stick to the Motion on the Order Paper.
§ Miss Margaret Herbison (Lanarkshire, North)
On a point of order. So far, the hon. Member has entered into arguments on the merits of a certain subject and some of us feel that an answer should be given to what he has already said. We should like an assurance that we can at least deal with the points that the hon. Member has been allowed to raise.
§ Mr. MacArthur
I am obliged, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
I turn now to another aspect of this question and the need for the statement which the right hon. Lady will, I am sure, welcome as much as I, because her purpose and mine are the same in this matter. We must have a statement before we rise for the Christmas Recess because, during January—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The hon. Genleman has indicated the nature of the problem which he wishes to have brought before the House. He ought not to pursue it further.
§ Mr. MacArthur
With respect, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I was turning to an entirely different aspect of the question. During January, local education authorities throughout Scotland will meet to determine what they should now do in the light of the requirement placed upon them by law. If they follow that requirement, which the House of Commons allowed to be passed the other day, they will be required to dismiss 1,200 teachers.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The border line between indicating the problem to the House which the hon. Gentleman wishes to have dealt with and entering into argument is very fine. He is now going over that borderline.
§ Mr. MacArthur
I accept your Ruling at once, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
1217 The opportunity for a statement or a debate on Monday next would enable the Government to announce that the Regulations were to be suspended for a period. I hope that that opportunity will be taken, and that—
§ Mr. MacArthur
Then I conclude in this way, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Now that the right hon. Gentleman has had his consultations with the Secretary of State for Scotland, may we have a reply this afternoon which will enable us, the teaching profession, the General Teaching Council and the local authorities of Scotland to know precisely where we stand before the House rises?
§ 5.51 p.m.
§ Miss Margaret Herbison (Lanarkshire, North)
I had not intended to intervene in the debate, but the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. Mac-Arthur) has raised an important matter. I was present throughout the debate on the Prayer which the Opposition put down against the Regulations, and I am most concerned that our children in Scotland should have sufficient teachers to give them the kind of education which we want them to have. I should welcome it if we met on Monday so that the Under-Secretary of State or the Secretary of State for Scotland could deal with this vital matter. However, I wish now to take up several of the points which the hon. Gentleman made.
The hon. Gentleman said that we were in an absurd situation, with a shortage of teachers yet the chance that over 1,000 certificated teachers in Scotland would be dismissed. He said that in the debate on the Regulations we had reached a decision critical for education and we had reached it on false information.
I remind the hon. Gentleman that over 97 per cent. of Scottish teachers have registered and that fewer than 2½ per cent. have not done so. I put to the hon. Gentleman that he himself supported the Report of the Wheatley Committee—
Mr. John Bitten (Oswestry)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it not plain that, since the right hon. Lady constantly puts her points to my hon. 1218 Friend the Member for Perth and East Perthshire rather than to the Leader of the House, she herself must be straying out of order?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
The hon. Gentleman is equally wrong. The points should be addressed to the Chair.
§ Miss Herbison
I stand corrected, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and I shall put my points to the Chair. What I am interested to know is why hon. Members opposite are creating a fuss in the House and in Scotland now. They supported the Report of the Wheatley Committee, they supported the legislation passed through the House to set up the General Teaching Council, and the Regulations were brought in under that legislation. Why the fuss now? I have come to the conclusion that their motive is similar to that displayed in debate yesterday and the presentation of the Petition today. Anything which hon. Members think will appeal to a small minority, no matter how small the number of dissidents, they will use, while knowing at the same time that there is nothing in the case which they are trying to make.
I have a scattered constituency, and I have a great deal to do in that constituency during the four weeks of the Recess, not like London Members and some other Members who can do their jobs when the House is sitting, but I shall be willing to come back here on Monday to give the House a chance to debate this matter fully in order to show not only hon. Members opposite but the small minority of teachers—I have had representations from them, too—that it is of the greatest importance that the legislation should be followed and that all teachers should register.
Another matter which we could discuss on Monday, if we return here, is the pledge which some hon. Members opposite have given that they will ask the Government to hold a plebiscite of Scottish teachers.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. I think that the score is even and that honour has been served. The right hon. Lady ought not now to go further.
§ Miss Herbison
I am putting the reasons why I support hon. Members opposite in their request that the House should not rise on Friday but should sit 1219 again on Monday, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor) could then have opportunity to tell the Secretary of State why he supports the idea of a plebiscite, and I could tell the Secretary of State why I do not consider that we should rule the country by plebiscites. It is important that we should have a chance to put these matters to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.
§ 5.57 p.m.
§ Mr. John Biffen (Oswestry)
We have been privileged to listen to a meeting of the Scottish Grand Committee out of time and out of place. I hope that I shall be excused if I do not follow the vein of the last two or three speeches.
The hon. Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Alan Lee Williams) said in measured terms that he considers that we face unparalleled economic perils. I happen not to agree with him. In my view, we are far too gloomy about these things. Nevertheless, there is widespread concern that Parliament should now be going into recess for a month or so, a concern which was well put by my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths). I hope that my hon. Friend will carry his convictions to a Division. If he does, I shall support him.
The matter which I wish to put to the Leader of the House, however, is not so much what the public may be thinking about the performance of Parliament but what we ourselves ought to regard as the function of this House. In that context, I endorse what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch) and take issue with the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence).
The most charitable explanation for the hon. Gentleman's speech which I can suggest is that it was an impromptu effort and that it was out of thoughtlessness that he applied the term "pomposity" to the pertinent point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury. I am sure that that is not a charge which, on reflection, the hon. Gentleman would wish to sustain, any more than I should wish to sustain the accusation that he is the kind of Parliamentary putty on which strong Executives prey.
The reason why I have real apprehension about our rising until 20th 1220 January derives from the weekend meeting at "Chequers" referred to by the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis) and several of my hon. Friends. I shall not discuss the merits of having another National Plan, or inviting the National Economic Development Council to co-operate in the production of such a plan. My point is that the House should have time to have every bit as much consultation as the N.E.D.C. on the targets to be put in the plan, on the implications for an incomes policy, on the implications for rates of investment and the implications for a balance of payments surplus.
We should have every opportunity of knowing what was said at "Chequers" so that we may determine to what the T.U.C. is purported to have been committed as a result of that meeting. There are now conflicting Press reports, and it is thoroughly undesirable that the House should have to rely on the Financial Times to know what goes on at such meetings. What makes this very relevant is that the next meeting takes place on 14th January at the office of the National Economic Development Council. I know because this morning I telephoned the Council to inquire when it would have its next meeting to continue the discussions about which we have been acquainted in the daily Press as a result of the so-called Chequers weekend. If the House has any self-respect, it will want a chance to debate the problems which were discussed last weekend. It cannot have that debate before the next meeting of the National Economic Development Council, unless the Leader of the House withdraws the Motion in response to the request of my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds, and substitutes another, or gives an undertaking that discussions with the National Economic Development Council will not proceed any further until the House has been enabled to have its say.
My second point concerns redundancies. Even those with the most casual acquaintance with the financial world know that a series of takeover bids is in progress. They will all proceed during the Recess. There are the Unilever bid for Allied Breweries, the Rank Organisation bid for De La Rue, and the Beecham's bid for Horlicks, and 1221 the list could be protracted. They all imply redundancies, and the whole question of the future of the redundancy scheme, which on the Government's admission, is under review, should be debated in the House at the earliest opportunity. The industrial and commercial world will not stand still until 20th January. Redundancies will not stand still until 20th January, and the House should have every chance to share with the Executive its opinions on what alterations should be made in the redundancy Regulations, not least in view of the following Answer to me by the Under-Secretary of State, Department of Employment and Productivity:The working of the Redundancy Payments Act is under review, but my right hon. Friend is not yet able to say what amendments to the Act may be required."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th December, 1968; Vol. 775, c. 258.]We should like to be consulted before the Act is amended.
Finally, what is possibly the most important matter of all which will be to the for; whether or not the House is sitting—the question of monetary arrangements. The world economy will not stand still until 20th January. If the Government are to proceed with a new arrangement for international payments settlements, it is vital that they should share their thinking with the House and not present us with a fiat to be confirmed by a three-line Whip some time after 20th January. The relevance of 20th January is that that is the day when President Nixon takes full authority in the United States. If an international monetary meeting is called by the Americans in their rô1e as major reserve currency bankers, and the British Government go without having consulted the House, without the House having been able to give its views on such things as the price of gold or floating exchange rates, we shall have abdicated what I believe to be our still essential authority. If from no more than a sense of respect for the House and its vitality, I hope that we shall impress on the Leader of the House that the Motion will not do.
§ 6.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Robert Maclennan (Caithness and Sutherland)
It has been refreshing to hear the hon. Member for Oswestry (Mr. Biffen) and Canterbury (Mr. Crouch) try- 1222 ing today to dispel the clouds of gloom that have floated over the House as a consequence of speeches by their leaders in the past two weeks. In an uncharacteristically irresponsible speech in Scotland, the right hon. Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) talked about the country teetering on the brink of economic disaster. It is good to hear his hon. Friends dissociating themselves from those sentiments. There is no doubt that grave economic problems face the country, none more grave than those presented by the systematic attempts of the Opposition leaders to undermine confidence at home and abroad, and their attempt to replan the regional policy of the central Government. It is that, above all, which I think that the House would wish to debate if it agreed to an extension of the Parliamentary term, because we have not recently had a debate on regional policy.
The Leader of the Opposition said categorically in a recent speech in Scotland that he would throw out of the window the Government's economic policies, which have done so much to transform the industry of Scotland, diminishing its dependence on the heavier, traditional industries and strengthening the development of modern, technologically-based industries. Above all, we in Scotland feel that there should be a debate on the implications of the right hon. Gentleman's proposals for the Highlands and Islands. What he has advocated is a return to the growth centre policy of the Toothill Report. What that would have meant for the Highlands and Islands is that development which we have welcomed, such as the development of the new heavy industries in Inver-gordon, would never have taken place, and the future of the Atomic Energy Authority's establishment at Dounreay would have been threatened. There are reasons for feeling gloomy if one takes the right hon. Gentlemen at their word.
There are two other points which we should consider in a debate on regional and economic policy. One concerns the future of the nuclear energy industry. It is many months since my right hon. Friend the Minister of Technology indicated his intention to reorganise the industry and since the Select Committee made recommendations. It is also many months since we had a clear statement 1223 of the position. It is time my right hon. Friend reported to the House. There is grave and growing disquiet throughout the industry that the Industrial Reorganisation Corporation has failed to set up the two new design and construction groups which the Government proposed should be established. The fear is not only that we are losing valuable exporting time but that we are creating a grave loss of morale in the atomic energy industry. We need a statement on scientific personnel and manpower policy planning. I hope that before the House rises we shall have an opportunity to debate that vital issue.
I turn from that nationally important matter to a more local issue which I wish to raise because it will be innovated during the Recess. It concerns the railway line north of Inverness, which is vitally important socially to my constituents and to those of the hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Alasdair Mackenzie). I fear that the proposals of British Railways to introduce new timetables on 6th January will have a serious effect on the use of that line, and I hope that even at this date my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport will intervene to prevent this unfortunate step.
Another subject already mentioned as being of great concern throughout the country which might require us to reassemble earlier than planned is that of Nigeria. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has recently returned from Africa and will no doubt have much to report to the House about his meetings there, and my noble Friend Lord Shepherd likewise. The debate on Nigeria indicated that the position was changing almost daily, and we may apprehend a serious deterioration in the situation within the Ibo heartland over the next two months. The House would wish to be apprised of developments and to be able to consider what steps it could take to relieve the tragic situation which is developing there.
§ 6.11 p.m.
§ Mr. Edward M. Taylor (Glasgow, Cathcart)
In supporting our point of view the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan) has clearly and sincerely made many comments with 1224 which we can agree. However, I was surprised by his specific request that the House should discuss the danger to the Government's present economic policies of speeches by Opposition Members. I remember that in the last four years of Conservative policies in Scotland the number of jobs increased net by 30,000, while in the last four years it has decreased by about 20,000. Among other things, that would be a good reason for recalling the House early.
I support the request for an early return, certainly a week earlier, to discuss the serious educational problem in Scotland.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Sydney Irving)
The hon. Gentleman will appreciate the pitfalls for the Chair in the subject on which he is now embarking. I hope that he will recall the remarks of the Chair about too much detail on this subject.
§ Mr. Taylor
Certainly. I have been here for the whole debate and I have heard all the Rulings, and I shall do my best to abide by them.
In the years that I have been in the House, I have always listened with pleasure to the speeches of the right hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison), who speaks with great sincerity, but she was very unfair to my hon. Friend the Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur). Hon. Members on both sides of the House agree that the educational problem in Scotland is a difficult matter to resolve and that, whatever the Government or the Opposition say, they will be criticised. What is important, however, is that this is a problem which only Government action or Parliamentary decision can resolve and the House should be able to discuss it and try to find some solution. Any statement on subjects of urgent importance like this can be misinterpreted, but my hon. Friends have endeavoured not to fall into this error.
In my constituency there is a school where 20 teachers are affected, and at least one senior secondary school in my constituency will be seriously affected unless this issue is resolved one way or the other. On Saturday, I had a visit from some senior pupils who were also concerned. I do not under-estimate the seriousness of the problem, but all 1225 Scottish Members want it to be resolved and it is the general feeling that it can be resolved only by discussion in Parliament, or Government decision.
§ Mr. William Hannan (Glasgow, Mary-hill)
Why will the hon. Gentleman dissemble in this matter? Parliament has talked about it and it is the law of the land. Let the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends advise the very small minority of teachers in this matter to do the honourable thing by the majority of their colleagues and register, as they would normally have done under the previous legislation. It is not now the responsibility of the Secretary of State for Scotland. The responsibility lies squarely and fairly on a recalcitrant minority.
§ Mr. Taylor
Much as I should like to discuss that comment, I shall not do so. There may be right and wrong on both sides, and the minority may be wrong and misguided, but in Scotland there are 1,200 teachers who may be suspended before, during, or shortly after the recess and it is only right that we should see whether there is some way of resolving the difficulty.
Another reason for recalling the House a little earlier is that there is considerable concern throughout the country about rising prices. Although we have had many debates on economic matters, this is one question which does not seem to have been discussed. I should like the House to return a day earlier so that we may discuss the operation of the Prices and Incomes Board, and in particular, whether the Government have a prices as well as an incomes policy.
I was very surprised to be told in answer to a Question recently, that over the last five months only one price had been referred to the Board, and that was the price of synthetic organic dyestuffs which is not a vital item in the normal family budget. The Government ought to have the opportunity to explain precisely why a highly qualified team of 12 top specialists, who were given the responsibility within the P.I.B. of considering prices, have considered only that price.
1226 We should also have a little time to discuss the general police shortage throughout the United Kingdom. As the result of a recent pay settlement, we have some hope for the future, but monthly figures from the areas show that in many areas where there is a serious manpower problem there is also a serious problem of law and order. The House should return a little earlier to discuss this vital question. It would be madness not to come back if there were any possibility of resolving the serious and dangerous education problem in Scotland which will affect many children in our Scottish constituencies.
§ 6.18 p.m.
§ Mr. William Baxter (West Stirlingshire)
I have listened to the debate with much interest and two issues seem to me to trouble both Opposition Members and Government supporters. The first is the difficulty of the education problem in Scotland and how it must be resolved. Some hon. Members have argued that we should return earlier, or keep going a little longer, to discuss this matter. As this is purely a Scottish question, I wonder whether the Leader of the House would consider a meeting of the Scottish Grand Committee in Edinburgh to discuss it during the Recess. While the law of the land is quite specific about the setting up of the Scottish Teaching Council, there is, nevertheless, a fair minority of teachers directly opposed to becoming members of that organisation.
Like yourself, Mr. Speaker, I have regard and respect for minority opinion, and recognise that it should be heard, that the other point of view should be understood. People may misunderstand the position, but if the Scottish Grand Committee could meet to discuss this during the Recess it could be publicly debated and the pros and cons put clearly before the public. This would help to resolve the problem.
The second matter which I have heard discussed, which is disturbing hon. Members on both sides of the House, is the industrial well-being of our nation. Some are of the opinion that we should continue for a little longer to discuss this important question, or come back earlier. They imagine that their words of wisdom or otherwise would have some fundamental effect upon the course of our industrial well-being. I am of the opinion that 1227 during the Recess, industry, the Press and the population generally get a greater degree of satisfaction and a feeling that Britain is surging ahead. It is only when Parliament is sitting that we get these speeches of depression and problems magnified out of all proportion. These give a false impression about our industrial well-being.
We are now seeing the birth of a new industrial nation. I have high expectations for the development of British industry. Notwithstanding recent difficulties, I forecast that within a few years Britain will be looked upon as an example to the whole world. There are reasons—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The hon. Gentleman may make that speech in the Scottish Grand Committee in Edinburgh or here, in one of the extra days that he is asking for, but he cannot make it now.
§ Mr. Baxter
Thank you for bringing me back to the debate, Mr. Speaker. I am trying to point out that there are reasons why we should rise for the Christmas Recess with at least hope and expectation in our breasts. It is because of that that I make my contribution this evening. This is a season of goodwill and great expectation. I have no doubt as to how this country will fare in the future, but I am greatly depressed when hon. Members on both sides of the House want to curtail our Recess and produce more despondency. We should rise, with pride and satisfaction, in the knowledge that the work of the Government has been well done, and the results will be a great credit to us all.
§ 6.24 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Jopling (Westmorland)
I want to support those of my hon. Friends who, during the course of this debate, have opposed this Motion. It is wrong for Parliament to go into recess for the length of time proposed here. Before I come to my main reasons for saying this I should like to refer to two matters of agricultural policy. It is wrong for the House to rise for four weeks in the light of the knowledge that we might not in the next few days get a statement from the Minister of Agriculture about the future of the Egg Marketing Board. We received a promise from him that he would make a statement on this early in December, but 1228 when I asked the Leader of the House last Thursday when we could expect this, he told us that he could not guarantee that it would be before Christmas. This is a very serious matter and the House should go on sitting until we get this statement.
From what we read in this morning's papers about internal troubles in the Cabinet it is even more important that we should debate this issue as soon as possible. We should also debate the problem of dumped dairy produce, particularly cheese which was referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton), through whose initiative a delegation went to see the Minister last week.
The main reason why the House should not rise on Friday for four weeks is because of the economic situation. This is not only to do with industry but the mood of the people. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths), but am unable to go all the way with my hon. Friend the Member for Oswestry (Mr. Biffen). There are a number of serious economic problems which need to be discussed. It would not be out of character for this Government to bypass Parliament and muddle on.
Parliament ought to discuss the multi-million pound debt which this nation has built up over the last few years. As a matter of urgency it should pay attention to the report in the Financial Times this morning that the Central Bank of France is said to have repaid most of its recent borrowings under the "swap" arrangements with other leading central banks. This is an important fact if it is true, and I want to know what this Government are doing to repay the staggering international debt which we seemed to have piled up over these four years.
We should have an early debate on the reported meeting at "Chequers" this weekend. If we are to believe what we have seen in the newspapers, this is very important and Parliament ought to talk about it. We have heard so much from right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench about a 3½ per cent. growth rate in the past. They always said that this was not enough, and now they ought to come and tell us what they mean. We ought to discuss the serious level of unemployment. If we have a hard January we 1229 can expect a much more serious situation.
I have mentioned the mood of the people. We ought to be debating the high level of emigration and the feelings of so many people who do not want to stay in this country with its high level of taxation, which is no inducement for them to stay. We ought to be discussing the serious flight from money which is making people do everything they can to get out of holding money. Industry is in a turmoil. It is not made any better by the activities of the right hon. Lady the First Secretary of State. She reminds me, the way she goes round organising industry and the trade unions, of a sort of "Lily the Pink"—
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Gentleman can tell us what the Minister reminds him of in one of the debates we are to have if we come back earlier.
§ Mr. Jopling
We are told that the dispute over building workers' pay has been settled. Parliament ought to know this as soon as possible and debate this. We do lot know which side has changed its mind. I do not mind whether we stay on next week or come back earlier. Hon. Members opposite sit on their bottoms and just make noises, but this is an important matter and we should know what the Secretary of State is doing.
We have had economic crises ever since the Government came to power, and for that reason one could argue that we should not have a recess at all. But there has not been a moment in the last four years when the situation has been as serious as it is now. This is the reason for the demand that Parliament should not go off for four weeks when these important matters are undebated and unresolved.
The Government do not command the respect and confidence of the world. Certainly they do not command the respect and confidence of people at home. We know, and the nation knows, that they should go. Parliament seems unable to make them go. Parliament should use its remaining influence to try to keep an eye on the Government and to force them to behave in such a way that the confidence and the respect which has been lost can be restored to some extent.
§ 6.31 p.m.
§ The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Fred Peart)
I am sorry that my neighbour the hon. Member for Westmorland (Mr. Jopling) attacked my right hon. Friend the First Secretary of State. He called her "Lily the Pink." If he has any knowledge of popular music he will know that yesterday "Lily the Pink" was "Top of the Pops". Therefore, the hon. Gentleman was in fact paying tribute to my right hon. Friend.
I cannot possibly deal with every point which has been raised, but I will deal with as many as I can. If I miss some points, it is not because I wish to be discourteous, but I will write to hon. Members and take up matters with which I do not deal.
The hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) referred to Anguila. I am grateful for his courteous note. He asked whether we would send a Minister to Anguila before 8th January. I cannot say that my right hon. Friend will respond by carrying out his request, but I will convey the hon. Gentleman's view to him. I recognise that, although this is a small island, it is important.
The hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Sir J. Rodgers) argued that we should not have a recess. He said that confidence in the rô le of Parliament had been sapped. I cannot accept that. He asked for a debate to take place on certain aspects of the economy. The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths) took up this theme. I am glad two hon. Members opposite thought that speeches of the kind which the hon. Gentleman made were too gloomy and pessimistic. I do not know whether he reads his speeches—I suspect that he does—but I beg him to read tomorrow the speech which he made today. It was a gloomy speech. I was sorry that the hon. Member for Westmorland, who is normally such a cheerful fellow, took up the hon. Gentleman's theme. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. W. Baxter) that we can take pride in our achievements. I believe that, given time, the achievements in industry will be recognised.
It is proper that hon. Members should exert their traditional right to press the Leader of the House and the Government 1231 on policies and to ask for early statements and early decisions to be made. That tradition has been followed today. However, I cannot accept that there is, as the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds said, a constitutional crisis. This is frenzied talk which does no good.
The hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton) asked about the Falkland Islands. I cannot add to what was said in the debate. Some hon. Members objected to the fact that other subjects—for example, Biafra—were discussed. It was right that Biafra should be discussed. I thought that the reply of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary was adequate. The hon. Gentleman also referred to stocks of foreign cheese in this country. Only today my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Alfred Morris) had a Question down to the Minister of Agriculture asking for a statement. Yesterday, the National Farmers Unions and the Milk Marketing Boards submitted to my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade an application for the imposition of anti-dumping or countervailing duties on certain imported cheese. My right hon. Friend has told the Minister of Agriculture that the application will be considered as speedily as possible.
§ Sir J. Langford-Holt
The right hon. Gentleman has just said that a decision about imported cheese will be made as soon as possible. Will it be made within a matter of days, before the House rises?
§ Mr. Peart
I cannot say. The Minister will take note of what has been said and I will ensure that the hon. Gentleman is informed.
My hon. Friend the Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Booth) referred to a dispute in his constituency. I was not aware that it had lasted so long. I will have a word with my right hon. Friend the First Secretary of State about it. I know that it is giving my hon. Friend concern, but it is a constituency matter and I hope that he will have a conversation with my right hon. Friend.
The hon. Member for Peterborough (Sir Harmar Nicholls), in a strange and typical speech, supported the Motion. He said that we were punch drunk. [HON. MEMBERS: "He has gone."] The hon. Gentleman is not here; he has been 1232 knocked out. I am glad of his support, even though it be for different reasons.
My hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley) raised the important question of the Middle East. I agree that it is a very serious matter that people in that part of the world should be fighting each other. Government policy is designed to achieve peace in that area. It would be wrong to reject the Motion because of the difficult situation there. We must try to achieve peace, and that is the Government's intention.
The hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) referred to the closure of the Carlisle-Edinburgh railway line. I will convey his views to the Minister. I know that the hon. Gentleman has tabled a Question on this impending closure, and there will be an answer to it on Thursday. I cannot go further than that.
My hon. Friend the Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis) asked the Prime Minister and the Treasury for more information. We always try to oblige him. We cannot accede to all his requests, but I note what he said. Perhaps he will have a word with me later.
The hon. Member for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. Wright) raised the important matter of teachers and I will not get involved in an argument on this subject, which has been debated. It was recently debated on two occasions—on the Adjournment on 22nd October and on a Motion to withdraw the Schools (Scotland) Code (Amendment No. 1) Regulations, 1968, on 6th November. I accept that, from the point of view of hon. Members, this is important, but I thought that my right hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) gave a very effective reply. However, I understand that the Secretary of State intends to make a full reply to Questions on this topic tomorrow, so I hope that the hon. Member for Glasgow, Pollok—
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
I must apologise to my right hon. Friend for having left the Chamber for a few minutes, because I was called to an urgent telephone call, but I have been here for the whole debate.
§ Mr. Peart
I accept my hon. Friend's sincere apology. Perhaps he and I could 1233 have a word later about some of his points.
The hon. Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Scott-Hopkins) mentioned dairy products. I accept what he said, that the future of the Egg Marketing Board is important for the industry, and I can understand his concern for a decision, but there are still difficult matters to be considered. However, I will convey the views of the House to my right hon. Friend. He also mentioned secondary education in his constituency, road improvements, and particularly mental health treatment affecting teenagers. I would only remind hon. Members that when they press me they must remember that they are asking for much more public expenditure. I have listed many of the points and could return to them on another occasion.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) made a vigorous speech, and I am most grateful to him. The hon. Member for Shrewsbury (Sir J. Langford-Holt) mentioned a debate on Biafra and also spoke of the Select Committee on Agriculture and other matters. I note what he has said, but it was not an argument for rejecting the Motion.
The hon. Member for Reading (Mr. John Lee) also asked me to consider a debate on Biafra, as well as the need for a statement on and a public inquiry into the city of London, and added to that the Hornsey College of Art and Northern Ireland. I am afraid that that was not an argument against the Motion—
§ Mr. Peart
Yes, my hon. Friend also mentioned people who are held in gaol in Rhodesia under the threat of execution. I know that this is important, but he has stressed it and I will convey his views to my right hon. Friend. But that is not an argument against going into Recess.
The hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith) mentioned Scottish teachers, egg marketing and the closure of railway works in his constituency. I have noted what he said and I will convey his views. He also pressed his point of view strongly again 1234 about British Standard Time, but I am afraid that we cannot change that during the Recess. However, his point of view is considered.
The hon. Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Alan Lee Williams) made some interesting points about the Upminster-Romford railway line and the importance of the Thames lighterage industry, as well as the need for investment grants for Thames river boats. They are important matters, even though with a constituency bias. I note them, and I thank him for his tribute as well.
I understand what the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch) was trying to argue. I have spoken to the hon. Member about this and know that he is concerned, as are all hon. Members, about the interests of Parliament and a developing Parliamentary democracy. I know from my conversations with him that he is a reformer. I cannot deploy an argument on this tonight, however. He also mentioned the currency problem and the rate of investment in industry, but I was glad that he said that there is no gloom and depression in industry. His speech was a direct reply to that of the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths) and I am most grateful for what he said. I am glad that that point was taken up by my hon. Friend the Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence).
I have dealt with the point of the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur) about Scottish teachers, which is an important matter—
§ Mr. Bruce-Gardyne
Can the right hon. Gentleman clear up one point? He said that the Secretary of State would be answering questions tomorrow. Can he assure us that his answers will be oral answers?
§ Mr. Peart
I have only had this information handed to me. I will look at the matter, but perhaps the hon. Member will have a word with me about it later. I have said that my right hon. Friend would answer questions on this.
The hon. Member for Oswestry (Mr. Biffen) made a vigorous speech, but was much too gloomy. I hope that he will enjoy his Christmas Recess. He is not usually gloomy but he was tonight. I do not think that one can argue that, because 1235 of a meeting at Chequers and because it has been mentioned that there will be another meeting of the National Economic Development Council on 14th January, hon. Members should not have a Recess of the kind that we propose—
§ Mr. Biffen
Would the right hon. Gentleman like to send me happily away for Christmas by giving the House an assurance that there will be placed in the Library a transcript of the paper submitted by the Government at that conference, the general sense of which is reported in today's Financial Times?
§ Mr. Peart
I am amazed at the hon. Member making that sort of request. I am sure that he would never have asked it of his own Administration. When there are private discussions with industry, if there is a need for a Press statement afterwards, that is sensible, but a request for the publication of Government papers is not reasonable.
The hon. Member said that international monetary problems do not stand still. Of course they do not; no one has said that. Even if we had a short Recess, we should still face these problems. They
§ will always be there and the Government earnestly desire stability. This depends on good will all around. For that reason, I thought that his argument was rather thin.
§ My hon. Friend the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan) mentioned regional policy, which is a very important matter, and also the nuclear energy industry, the manpower needs of science and the position of a railway line affecting his area. He also mentioned Nigeria. I have noted what he said. The hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor) also mentioned education and rising prices. My hon. Friend the Member for West Stirlingshire made a positive appeal to hon. Members and I compliment him on his speech. I have dealt with the points raised by the hon. Member for Westmorland.
§ In case I do not have an opportunity on Thursday, may I wish a merry Christmas to all hon. Members?
That this House, at its rising on Friday, do adjourn till Monday, 20th January.
§ The House divided: Ayes 246, Noes 41.1237
|Division No. 43.]||AYES||[6.50 p.m.|
|Albu, Austen||Carmichael, Neil||Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Carter-Jones, Lewis||Ford, Ben|
|Alldritt, Walter||Chapman, Donald||Forrester, John|
|Allen, Scholefield||Coe, Denis||Fowler, Gerry|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Coleman, Donald||Fraser, John (Norwood)|
|Ashley, Jack||Conlan, Bernard||Galpern, Sir Myer|
|Ashton, Joe (Bassetlaw)||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Gardner, Tony|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)||Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Garrett, W. E.|
|Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham)||Dalyell, Tam||Ginsburg, David|
|Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice||Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway)||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.|
|Barnes, Michael||Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth)|
|Baxter, William||Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)||Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony|
|Beaney, Alan||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Gregory, Arnold|
|Bence, Cyril||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Grey, Charles (Durham)|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Dempsey, James||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)|
|Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton)||Dewar, Donald||Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Dobson, Ray||Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)|
|Binns, John||Doig, Peter||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)|
|Bishop, E. S.||Driberg, Tom||Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)|
|Blackburn, F.||Dunn, James A.||Hannan, William|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Dunnett, Jack||Harper, Joseph|
|Boardman, H. (Leigh)||Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter)||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)|
|Boston, Terence||Eadie, Alex||Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Edelman, Maurice||Haseldine, Noman|
|Boyden, James||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Hazell, Bert|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Edwards, William (Merioneth)||Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis|
|Bradley, Tom||Ellis, John||Heffer, Eric S.|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||English, Michael||Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Ennals, David||Hilton, W. S.|
|Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)||Ensor, David||Hooley, Frank|
|Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)||Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)|
|Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,W.)||Evans, Gwynfor (C'marthen)||Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)|
|Buchan, Norman||Faulds, Andrew||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)|
|Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Howie, W.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Fitt, Gerard (Belfast, W.)||Huckfield, Leslie|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)|
|Cant, R. B.||Foley, Maurice||Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.)|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert||Rose, Paul|
|Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Millan, Bruce||Ross, Rt. Hn. William|
|Hunter, Adam||Miller, Dr. M, S.||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)|
|Hynd, John||Milne, Edward (Blyth)||Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)|
|Irvine, Sir Arthur (Edge Hill)||Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh)||Molloy, William||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Moonman, Eric||Silverman, Julius|
|Jeger, George (Goole)||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Slater, Joseph|
|Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Small, William|
|Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Morris, John (Aberavon)||Snow, Julian|
|Jones, Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn (W.Ham,S.)||Moyle, Roland||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West)||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)|
|Judd, Frank||Murray, Albert||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Kelley, Richard||Newens, Stan||Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John|
|Kenyon, Clifford||Norwood, Christopher||Swingier, Stephen|
|Kerr, Russell (Feltham)||Oakes, Gordon||Symonds, J. B.|
|Lawson, George||Ogden, Eric||Taverne, Dick|
|Lead bitter, Ted||Oram, Albert E.||Thomson, Rt. Hn. George|
|Ledger, Ron||Orbach, Maurice||Tinn, James|
|Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)||Orme, Stanley||Tomney, Frank|
|Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock)||Owen, Will (Morpeth)||Tuck, Raphael|
|Lee, John (Reading)||Page, Derek (King's Lynn)||Varley, Eric G.|
|Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Paget, R. T.||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)|
|Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)||Palmer, Arthur||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Park, Trevor||Wallace, George|
|Lipton, Marcus||Parker, John (Dagenham)||Watkins, David (Consett)|
|Lomas, Kenneth||Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)||Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)|
|Loughlin, Charles||Pavitt, Laurence||Weitzman, David|
|Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred||Wellbeloved, James|
|McCann, John||Pentland, Norman||Whitaker, Ben|
|MacColl, James||Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Macdonald, A. H.||Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|McGuire, Michael||Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Mackie, John||Probert, Arthur||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)|
|Mackintosh, John P.||Randall, Marry||Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)|
|Maclennan, Robert||Rankin, John||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Rees, Merlyn||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Macpherson, Malcolm||Reynolds, Rt. Hn. G. W.||Willis, Rt. Hn. George|
|Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Winnick, David|
|Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Robertson, John (Pa'sley)||Woof, Robert|
|Manuel, Archie||Robinson, Rt.Hn.Kenneth(St.P'c'as)|
|Mapp, Charles||Rodgers, William (Stockton)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Marks, Kenneth||Roebuck, Roy||Mr. Ioan L. Evans and|
|Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Mr. Neil McBride.|
|Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy|
|Baker, Kenneth (Acton)||Goodhew, Victor||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)|
|Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)||Gower, Raymond||Pounder, Rafton|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Grieve, Percy||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon|
|Bessell, Peter||Hordern, Peter||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)|
|Biffen, John||Iremonger, T. L.||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.|
|Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.)||Jopling, Michael||Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow,Cathcart)|
|Booth, Albert||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Williams, Donald (Dudley)|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Lane, David||Winstanley, Dr. M. P.|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N & M)||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Wright, Esmond|
|Cary, Sir Robert||MacArthur, Ian||Younger, Hn. George|
|Costain, A. P.||Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross & Crom'ty)|
|Dean, Paul||McMaster, Stanley||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Emery, Peter||Marten, Neil||Mr. Eldon Griffiths and|
|Fortescue, Tim||Onslow, Cranley||Mr. David Crouch.|