HC Deb 18 July 1968 vol 768 cc1669-76
Mr. Heath

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

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

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

MONDAY, 22ND JULY—Supply [28th Allotted Day]:

Debate on the Situation in Nigeria which will arise on a Motion for the Adjournment of the House.

At seven o'clock, the Chairman has named the South African Breweries Bill and the Ely Ouse-Essex Water Bill for debate.

Motion relating to the Prices and Incomes (General Considerations) Order.

Motions on the Housing Subsidies (Representative Rates of Interest) Orders, the Limit of Advances (Scotland) Order, and Sunday Cinematograph Entertainments (Pocklington).

TUESDAY, 23RD JULY—Supply [29th Allotted Day]:

Until about seven o'clock, there will be a debate on Home Ownership and Interest Rates, on an Opposittion Motion.

Afterwards, Motions on the Redun-dancy Fund Orders.

At ten o'clock, the Question will be put on all outstanding Votes.

Motion on the Meat and Livestock Commission Levy Order. Remaining stages of the Civil Evidence Bill [Lords].

Motions on the White Fish and Herring Subsidies Scheme and Order.

WEDNESDAY, 24TH JULY—Second Reading of the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill.

THURSDAY, 25TH JULY—Remaining stages of the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill which, under Standing Order No. 89, will be formal.

Motion to approve the Defence White Paper (Command No. 3701).

Consideration of Lords Amendments to Bills sponsored by private Members which may be received from another place.

FRIDAY, 26TH JULY—It is proposed that the House should rise for the Summer Adjournment until Monday, 14th October.

Mr. Heath

As the Leader of the House announced, the debate on Monday on the situation in Nigeria is in Opposition time. We are fully prepared to forgo our customary right to open the debate if the Commonwealth Secretary or some other Government spokesman wishes to do so, so that he could tell the House what are Lord Hunt's conclusions and what action the Government propose to take on them. That would be for the convenience of the House in a general debate of that kind.

Secondly, the Prime Minister told me at Question Time that he hoped to publish, before the House rises, the Government's programme for assistance to those urban areas particularly affected by immigration. Can the Leader of the House confirm that that will be so?

Thirdly, can the Leader of the House tell us when the Government propose to publish their White Paper on electoral reform and when we shall have an opportunity of debating it?

Mr. Peart

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman's constructive suggestion about the debate on Monday, which I think would be for the convenience of the House. I will discuss it with my right hon. Friend. I think that his proposal is the sensible thing to do.

The programme for urban help was mentioned by my right hon. Friend in reply to the right hon. Gentleman on 16th July. My right hon. Friend said that he hoped that a statement would be made before the House rose for the Recess. I confirm that a statement will be made.

The right hon. Gentleman asked about a White Paper on electoral reform. I hope that it will be published next week.

Several Hon. Members rose—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I remind hon. Members that there is a very important debate ahead. I hope that they will show some restraint in putting Business Questions.

Dr. David Kerr

Will my right hon. Friend take a fresh look at the way in which the dates of Recesses are announced? Would he accept that, apart from the confusion for hon. Members which is involved, it raises increasingly a matter of difficulty for the administration of the House, which is left in some doubt about the precise dates on which the House is to rise and to return. Will he find ways and means of ending the long tradition of not announcing the Recess dates until about the week before the Recess?

Mr. Peart

I will look at that suggestion, but there are many imponderables.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

When are we to have a debate on prisons in this Parliament?

Mr. Peart

I should only be repeating myself if I replied to the hon. Member, for I gave the answer last week.

Mr. Michael Foot

May I ask about a possible need to rearrange business for next week? It is almost two months since a matter of great public importance, or apparent public importance, was referred to the Committee of Privileges, and the House will possibly wish to have a full debate on the question when the Committee offers its advice to the House.

May we have an undertaking that, if the Committee's report is received next week there will be an immediate debate? Will my right hon. Friend give a further undertaking that if we do not receive the report next week—which we should like to have, because it is wrong that a matter of this importance should be left hanging about for so long —the House will have an opportunity, if it wishes, to have a debate on a matter of such first-class public importance?

Mr. Peart

I agree with my hon. Friend. I certainly note what he said. I want a matter of this kind to be dealt with quickly. But I cannot reveal any more, otherwise I should be before my own Committee.

Mrs. Knight

Would the right hon. Gentleman consider sympathetically giving time for debate of the Design Copyright Bill, which has all-party support and is of importance for industry and exports and should not require more than a short time?

Mr. Peart

I cannot promise that.

Mr. Milne

Would my right hon. Friend bear in mind the present unemployment position, and affecting development districts and, in particular, the North-East, which has been awaiting an economic miracle for the last 20 years? Can we expect it next week or during the Recess?

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member cannot ask for a miracle on the Business Question. He can ask for a debate about a miracle.

Mr. Peart

I cannot promise a debate, but I will convey the views of my hon. Friend who, I know, takes a deep interest in this matter, to the President of the Board of Trade and other Ministers.

Mr. Birch

In view of the fact that negotiations are to take place with all sterling area countries during the Recess, and of the importance of those negotiations to the countries involved, may I ask for an undertaking that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will give the House a clear statement on what proposals he will be putting and that he will do so before we rise for the Recess?

Mr. Peart

I cannot give a specific promise, but I will convey the views of the right hon. Gentleman to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor.

Dr. Gray

Why are the Government killing the Divorce Law Reform Bill? Cannot we take it next week, during an all-night sitting?

Mr. Peart

I can only say that there has been no attempt to kill any Bill. I have discussed this with the sponsors, and they take a reasonable view.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Would the right hon. Gentleman tell us when he intends the House to take the Motion for the Summer Recess? Will he make sure, as was not done on the previous occasion, that it does not clash with an important debate?

Mr. Peart

I note that, but I cannot be specific at this stage.

Hon. Members

But when?

Mr. Handing

Has my right hon. Friend noticed Motion No. 396 relating to the income of the editor of the Daily Mail? Will he give the House an opportunity of expressing its contempt at the continued campaign of scurillity against my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister?

[That this House is still waiting for the Editor of the "Daily Mail" to publish in his newspaper, together with appropriate photographs and cartoons, full derails of his salary, his tax position, the expenses allowed to him, and all other perquisites available to him, by virtue of his position of authority and responsibility as editor of the "Daily Mail".]

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member must not drift into the merits of the matter.

Mr. Peart

I have noted the Motion relating to a certain newspaper article which, I thought, did not reach high standards of journalism, to put it mildly. I think that the Motion may have served a useful purpose.

Mr. Peter Mills

Would the Leader of the House tell us when the Minister of Agriculture will let us have a statement, as promised, on the very serious problem of the import of dairy produce into this country? Will the statement be made before the end of the Session?

Mr. Peart

I am not aware that there was a specific promise. There was a full debate the other day when, I think, this matter was covered. I will look at the point.

Mr. Abse

Since the Divorce Bill cannot proceed, will my right hon. Friend give an explanation to the country, which wants to know the position, and undertake that, in the event, as is intended, of the Bill's being reintroduced in another place early next Session it will not fail for want of time when it comes here?

Mr. Peart

I cannot say specifically that a Bill will proceed along certain lines or directions, but I assure my hon. Friend that I will certainly look at this matter sympathetically, because I know that it is one which many people feel very deeply about, and that many hon. Members have put in a lot of work on it.

Mr. Brnce-Gardyne

Is the Leader of the House aware that the Government have just tabled a Statutory Instrument requiring local authorities in Scotland to dismiss qualified teachers if they have not registered with the General Teaching Council by 1st August, and that we are, apparently, to have no opportunity to pray against this Order before 1st August? Will he see whether time can be provided before 1st August for us to pray against this Order, or, alternatively, get its entry into operation delayed?

Mr. Peart

This is the first time— I will be frank—that this has been brought to my attention, but I will give it consideration and certainly have a discussion with my right hon. Friend.

Mrs. Renée Short

My right hon. Friend has announced a date when the House will rise, but he did not say when we would come back. [HON. MEMBERS: "He did."] I beg pardon. Will my right hon. Friend give an undertaking that a day will be found during the two-week overlap period to debate the Report on Prisons, in view of the interest and continuing debate outside the House on this important matter?

Mr. Peart

I have replied to my hon. Friend before on this matter. I will look at this again, but I wish that my hon. Friend had taken the opportunity when she was given one to have a debate. But in view of the increasing interest, I will look at the question.

Mr. Alison

Has the right hon. Gentleman noticed Motion No. 380, supported by 60 hon. Members from both sides of the House, about the present conditions in which Georgi Vins is held and the conditions in which Yuri Galanskov suffers in a labour colony? Does he anticipate that there could be a debate on this Motion before the House rises? If not, will he draw the attention of the Foreign Secretary to the Motion?

[That this House, mindful of the meeting of the World Council of Churches at Uppsala now in progress; thankful that Russian Christians can participate in its work; hopeful that such contacts can serve the cause of better relations which Her Majesty's Government seek with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; deeply regrets the prison conditions under with the Russian Baptist leader Georgi Vins is at present held in the Corrective Labour Colony, Taly Postal District, Kizel, Perm Region, Urals; and likewise the conditions under which Yuri Galanskov, poet and Christian pacifist, suffers in Labour Colony 17, near Ozernoye, in the Mordovian Republic; and urges Her Majesty's Government to convey to the Soviet Government the widespread concern and hope for the humane treatment and early release of these and other such prisoners.]

Mr. Peart

I have noticed the Motion, but I cannot find time for a debate.

Mr. Boston

Why are we not having a debate next week on economic affairs? Does not my right hon. Friend think that it would have been a good idea to have had one before rising for the Recess? Can he say that this is because of any reluctance on the part of the Opposition not to use one of their Supply days for such a debate?

Mr. Peart

This is really a matter of the Opposition's choosing. It may well be that the Opposition find a measure of satisfaction in the possibility of the future development of our economy under wise Labour leadership.

Mr. Maclennan

In view of the extremely serious statement yesterday about the future of the nuclear power industry, and its departure from the recommendations of the Select Committee on Science and Technology, and the fact that following from this statement, important decisions may be taken during the Summer Recess, when the House will have no opportunity to make its influence felt, will my right hon. Friend give consideration to providing an opportunity to debate this subject next week?

Mr. Peart

I cannot find time next week for a debate, but, as my hon Friend knows, we did have a debate on the future of the nuclear power industry on a Report from the Select Committee.

Mr. William Hamilton

May I press my right hon. Friend again for a debate on the Estimates Committee's Report on Prisons? Does he recall that it was the action of the then Leader of the House in tabling the Motion for the Easter Adjournment without notice to the Estimates Committee that compelled us to refuse to take part in the debate on that occasion?

It is not good enough for the Leader of the House or the Government to use this as an excuse for denying us the right to debate one of our Estimates Committee's Reports in the current Session.

Mr. Peart

I always listen to what my hon. Friend says, but he was not compelled. He made his decision in consultation with his colleagues. They could have had time. I will consider this, but to criticise my right hon. Friend and the Government for this is not to realise that was done then.

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