HC Deb 20 June 1968 vol 766 cc1308-14
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, 24TH JUNE—Completion of the remaining stages of the Medicines Bill.

At seven o'clock, the Chairman of Ways and Means has set down opposed Private Business for consideration.

Afterwards, consideration of Lords Amendments to the Countryside Bill and to the Justices of the Peace Bill.

TUESDAY, 25TH JUNE and WEDNESDAY, 26TH JUNE—Progress on the remaining stages of the Prices and Incomes Bill.

THURSDAY, 27TH JUNE—Completion of the remaining stages of the Prices and Incomes Bill, which it is hoped to obtain by about seven o'clock.

Remaining stages of the Restrictive Trade Practices Bill.

FRIDAY, 28TH JUNE—Second Reading of the International Monetary Fund Bill and of the Overseas Aid Bill, and, if there is time, of the Swaziland Independence Bill.

MONDAY, 1ST JULY—Private Members' Motions until seven o'clock.

Afterwards, progress on the Report stage of the Finance Bill.

Mr. Heath

The right hon. Gentleman will, no doubt, recall that, last week, I asked whether the Foreign Secretary would keep the House informed of the progress of the peace talks with Nigeria and Biafra and also about the supply of arms. Will he be making a statement about this next week?

Mr. Peart

The Minister of State is out there now and will be reporting back. I will note carefully what the right hon. Gentleman has said.

Mr. Macdonald

When will my right hon. Friend find time for the affirmative Order under the Motor Vehicles (International Circulation) Act relating to Turkish vehicles coming into this country and our vehicles entering Turkey, which the Ministry of Transport has been waiting to lay since 4th April?

Mr. Peart

I have not announced it for next week.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman about the possibility of a debate on the Report of the Royal Commission on Trade Unions and Employers' Associations? Will he seriously consider a debate before the Government's consultations with both sides of industry go further? Would it not be a good thing, because there is much knowledge on these matters in all quarters of the House, for the Government to get the views of hon. Members before they begin to make up their own mind?

Mr. Peart

I am aware and will take note of that, but on a Business statement, my reply is, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman used to say, "Not next week."

Dr. Hugh Gray

In view of the continuining situation at the Hornsey College of Art and the situation in other educational institutions, is it not time that my right hon. Friend provided time for a debate on student discontents? We do not yet have a Paris situation, but we may well have one. Should he not give us plenty of time to voice our views on what is happening in these institutions?

Mr. Peart

I could not find time for it in next week's business.

Mr. Shinwell

On a point of order. With great respect, Mr. Speaker, and recognising your discretion in these matters, may I remind you of the traditional practice of the House on business, namely, that questions should be directed primarily to business in the following week and that we have departed from that practice to the extent that all kinds of questions are put which are not relevant to business for the next week?

Mr. Speaker

I am interested in what the right hon. Gentleman says, but the departure is of long standing and at business question time Members are seeking to plead a case that something be brought either into the business of next week or into business early ahead. The House will, however, be aware, I think, that business question time has extended in length a great deal and that this is done at the expense of other important business.

Mr. R. Carr

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we have deliberately refrained this week from pressing for statements on the various industrial disputes which are taking place or threatened, so as not to lessen the chances of solving these matters? Would he, therefore, particularly ask his right hon. Friend to keep the House informed next week as soon as possible?

Mr. Peart

Yes, Sir.

Mr. McNamara

May I ask, out of deference to my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), why we are not to have next week a statement on the Government's proposals for the fishing industry?

Mr. Peart

When my right hon. Friend is ready, he will no doubt do so, but not next week.

Mr. Sharpies

When will the right hon. Gentleman honour his pledge to provide time for a debate on prisons?

Mr. Peart

I never gave a specific pledge. I said that I would consider it. Time was lost because of action by hon. Members who were on the Committee.

Mrs. Anne Kerr

Would my right hon. Friend consider giving a full day in the near future to a debate on the question of disarmament in all its aspects?

Mr. Peart

My hon. Friend knows about the signing of a treaty. It may well be that this could come up in the foreign affairs debate, but not next week.

Sir D. Renton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that more than 250 back benchers have now signed Motion No. 168, on the population problem, which he agreed a month ago was worth a debate? [That this House, noting that England itself now rivals Holland and Taiwan as the most densely populated territory in the world, apart from some small islands and city states, and that the population of the United Kingdom is likely to increase by a third from 55 to 73 million by the end of the century, calls upon Her Majesty's Government to establish permanent and adequate machinery for examining the difficulties to which such population growth will give rise and for giving early warning to Parliament of such difficulties and to advise what steps should be taken to overcome them well in advance of crisis point.] When will he be able to provide time for that debate?

Mr. Peart

I know that population is a very important problem, but I cannot find time for a debate next week.

Mr. W. Baxter

In view of the expressions of opinion by the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Liberal Party, and in many by-elections, and the expressions of opinion by the people of Scotland, when will my right hon. Friend give us an opportunity to debate devolution in regard to Scotland?

Mr. Peart

I know that my hon. Friend feels strongly on this matter, but I could not put it in the programme I have announced.

Mr. Ridsdale

Could not the Government be more imaginative about their business for next week and drop one day of the debate on the Prices and Incomes Bill, so as to have, instead, a day's economic debate, in view of the unsatisfactory exchanges across the Floor of the House to-day on economic questions?

Mr. Peart

I think that the hon. Member wants to go much further than business.

Mr. Ramsden

What is the expected date of the publication of the summer Defence White Paper? There is considerable concern about this, in view of what it may hold in store for the future of individual regiments.

Mr. Peart

As promised, there will be another White Paper on Defence in the next few weeks.

Mr. English

Would my right hon. Friend apply his mind to Motion No. 343, signed by 58 hon. Members and myself, on the cereals price increase?

[That this House would view with concern any proposal to increase minimum import prices for cereals merely to save Exchequer subsidies to farmers, since it would annoy our overseas suppliers without benefiting our own farmers and it would both increase our already excessive import bill and increase internal prices contrary to the Government's economic and prices policies.]

Before he says, "Not next week", would he recollect that the relevant Order may be laid next week?

Mr. Peart

I am aware of my hon. Friend's interest in cereals and agricultural matters, but I cannot promise him any time for a debate.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

In view of the developments at the United Nations on the Non-Proliferation Treaty, would the right hon. Gentleman find time during the next two or three weeks to debate this matter?

Mr. Peart

That is something which we should consider, but I cannot promise a specific date.

Mr. Ogden

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many hon. Members are concerned about the present disputes in the motor industry, which are causing unemployment on Merseyside and in the South-East? Would he give an undertaking that he will ask his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity to make a statement on this next week?

Mr. Peart

I thought that that had been previously answered, but I will note it.

Dame Joan Vickers

Has the right hon. Gentleman seen Motion No. 325, on prescription charges for women over 60?

[That this House, bearing in mind that the age of 60 years has been accepted as the retirement age for women for purposes of social security benefits, is of the opinion that all women aged 60 years and over should be exempt from the payment of National Health Service prescription charges.]

As they had to start paying on 10th June, can he take action next week to see that the position is changed?

Mr. Peart

I will convey the point to the Minister of Health, but I cannot find time for this to be dealt with in the House.

Mr. Hector Hughes

Once again, may I ask my right hon. Friend to find time to debate my Motion about the threatened disbandment of the Gordon Highlanders, a matter of great interest to Aberdonians and people throughout Scotland?

[That this House views with disfavour the proposal to disband certain distinguished Scottish regiments, in particular the Gordons and Argylls, both of which have close family and other connections with Aberdeen and other places in north-east Scotland from which those regiments draw their members and upon which places their gallantry and military distinctions shed glory; and calls upon the Government to allow these regiments to continue their patriotic work.]

Mr. Peart

I know that my hon. and learned Friend feels very strongly and passionately about this and other famous regiments, but I cannot find time for the matter to be debated next week.

Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles

After the excellent and constructive debate in another place on the subject of Rhodesia, is it not very urgent that we debate the composition of a reformed House of Commons?

Mr. Peart

The hon. and gallant Gentleman must await the statement which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will be making shortly.

Mr. John Fraser

Without wishing to cut into Government time, is my right hon. Friend able to find time to complete the remaining stages of the Sunday Entertainments Bill?

Mr. Peart

I appreciate that many hon. Members feel strongly about this Measure. I will look into the matter.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. We must get on.