HC Deb 09 May 1968 vol 764 cc633-9
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, 13TH MAY—Supply [21st Allotted Day]:

Debate on Tourism, on a Motion for the Adjournment of the House.

Second Reading of the Export Guarantees Bill [Lords] and of the Firearms Bill [Lords], which are consolidation Measures.

Prayer on the Fish and Meat Spread-able Products Regulations.

TUESDAY, 14TH MAY—Debate on a Motion to take note of the Report from the Select Committee on Agriculture, in Session 1966–67 and the relevant Departmental Observations.

Motion on Members' Travel.

Third Reading of the Water Resources Bill.

Prayer on the Motor Vehicle (Construction and Use) (Amendment) (No. 3) Regulations.

WEDNESDAY, 15TH MAY—Supply [22nd Allotted Day]:

Debate on the T.A.V.R.III, on an Opposition Motion until 7 o'clock and thereafter on the Problems of the Fishing Industry, on a Motion for the Adjournment of the House.

Remaining stages of the Export Guarantees Bill [Lords] and of the Firearms Bill [Lords].

THURSDAY, 16TH MAY—Second Reading of the Hovercraft Bill.

Motion on the Immunities and Privileges Order.

Procedure Motion on Questions.

FRIDAY, 17TH MAY—Private Members' Bills.

MONDAY, 20TH MAY—The proposed business will be:

Remaining stages of the Town and Country Planning Bill.

Subject to progress of business, we shall propose that the House should rise for the Whitsun Adjournment on Friday, 31st May, until Tuesday, 11th June.

Mr. Heath

There has still been no statement about Service pay. Can the Leader of the House tell us when a statement will be made? Secondly, if the Prices and Incomes Bill is published next week, as the Prime Minister earlier said that it would be, when is it proposed to have Second Reading, because he has given us an assurance that there will be plenty of time to study it?

Mr. Peart

On the question of Service pay, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, and as I mentioned last week, this is still being discussed with the Prices and Incomes Board, and we must await its report. I am aware that there is feeling that there should be early action on this, and I am in touch with the Ministers concerned.

On the question of the Prices and Incomes Bill, what the right hon. Gentleman says is true, but I am dealing with next week's business and I cannot now make a specific statement about the timing of the Second Reading.

Several hon. Members rose——

Mr. Speaker

Order. May I remind the House that we have a short debate on an important subject ahead and I hope that we can ration ourselves on business questions.

Mr. Peter Walker

Is the Leader of the House aware that the decision of the Government to append to the Transport Bill their proposals for a new Channel Tunnel Planning Council will mean that there is no possibility of any discussion on Opposition new Clauses, or on four Government new Clauses, and that, in failing to give extra time or to introduce these proposals as separate legislation, the Leader of the House has failed in his duty to the House?

Mr. Peart

I cannot accept that argument. As the hon. Member knows, I did arrange a meeting with the Minister. I understand that my right hon. Friend has written to the hon. Member with a view to trying to arrange adequate discussion on this.

Mr. Leadbitter

Is the Leader of the House aware that on Tees-side there is increasing concern about the state of employment in the shipbuilding industry? There is also increasing concern about the national position in shipbuilding. Will he tell the House whether there is any possibility of giving some time for a debate on this subject?

Mr. Peart

I am aware of my hon. Friend's concern, but I cannot give time for a debate next week.

Mr. Peter Walker

Is the Leader of the House aware that the letter which I have received from the Minister of Transport promises no extra time whatsoever? All he suggests is that this Clause has priority over Opposition new Clauses and the four Government new Clauses.

Mr. Peart

This question does not deal with the subject of the business of the House that I have announced. I have tried to seek arrangements whereby this can be discussed upstairs. I have the letter here; it seems adequate to me.

Sir Harmar Nicholls

On a point of order. I am sorry to pursue this, but it is a point which I put earlier on of which you, Mr. Speaker, had not had notice. Arising out of my hon. Friend's question, quite apart from what the Leader of the House or the Minister leading the Committee wishes, is it in order to have business added to a Bill on which the Guillotine has been applied, in view of the size of the Bill before the addition?

Mr. Speaker

There is nothing out of order at the moment.

Mr. Christopher Price

In view of the savage and sudden redundancies which have been created by the General Electric Company at their Witton works in Birmingham, and as this is the second such incident arising from this important merger, can the Leader of the House tell us how soon we can have a debate on the subject of redundancies arising in this way?

Mr. Peart

I am well aware of my hon. Friend's concern, but not next week.

Mr. Peyton

Is the Leader of the House aware how very appreciative many of us are of his good nature, helpfulness and courtesy, particularly as we have been quite unaccustomed to receive such things from the previous Leader of the House?

Mr. Maclennan

Can the Leader of the House say whether next week there will be a statement made, or some indication given, of the views of the Government on the Report of the Select Committee on Science and Technology, on which we have been promised a debate shortly?

Mr. Peart

I can give my hon. Friend and all hon. Members the assurance that I am very anxious that these Reports should be discussed on the Floor of the House. We start with the Select Committee on Agriculture. I will certainly arrange for the Report of the Select Committee on Science and Technology to be debated.

Sir J. Eden

Why did not the Leader of the House use the opportunity of his Business statement to inform the House of the very large number of Standing Committees which will be engaging the attention of many hon. Members next week, and explain the widespread disclocation to the services of the House and the order of our business?

Mr. Peart

I am aware of the amount of work that has been done by hon. Members in Standing Committees. We have an all-party Services Committee which examines the services of the House. If the hon. Member has anything more specific I will certainly look into it.

Mr. Roebuck

Can the Leader of the House say what has happened to the great debate on the Common Market? Has he observed the Motion which stands on the Order Paper in the names of the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton), my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ipswich (Sir Dingle Foot), and other Members on both side of the House, suggesting the exploration of some new methods of trading? Would he give the House an opportunity to debate this at an early date? [That this House, taking note of the present state of the negotiations to join the Common Market, believe that Her Majesty's Government should, in the meantime, begin a feasibility study of an open-ended Atlantic Free Trade Area initially comprising the United Kingdom, the European Free Trade Association, Canada and the United States of America.]

Mr. Peart

I have noticed the Motion in the names of the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues, but I cannot give time next week.

Mr. Speaker

May I again remind the House that there is an important short debate ahead?

Mr. Bessell

May I ask the Leader of the House whether, in view of the unsatisfactory reply that he was bound to give to the hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Peter Walker), he would consider introducing a Motion to alter the Guillotine in relation to the Transport Bill, so that we have a chance to discuss the many new Clauses which were tabled by backbenchers long before the Channel Tunnel Clause introduced by the Minister of Transport?

Mr. Peart

Many Clauses were withdrawn. I understand that time has been allowed for discussion on many matters. I hope that there will be discussion of the Channel Tunnel Planning Council in the Standing Committee.

Mr. Abse

Could the Leader of the House tell us when the long postponed debate on prisons will take place, in view of the fact that this will be an occasion when two reports could be discussed? Would the right hon. Gentleman not agree, in view of the public interest, that it is very important that we should have debates touching on Committee work which otherwise will go into limbo?

Mr. Peart

I am aware of that. My hon. Friend knows why there has been a change. I was not responsible for the last debate being curtailed. Not next week.

Mr. G. Campbell

Is the Leader of the House aware that by giving priority to the new proposals on the Channel Tunnel the Government have done exactly what I warned him about in my supplementary question last week, and excluded a great many new Clauses from discussion? Is this not outrageous treatment of a Committee at the end of its allotted time under a guillotine Motion and a long time after the Clauses which he mentioned have been dropped?

Mr. Peart

I cannot go beyond what I have already said on this matter. I am trying to ensure that there is adequate discussion upstairs.

Mr. Archer

Has my right hon. Friend considered Motion No. 271, which has been signed by 86 hon. Members, and which deals with the conservation of the ocean floor for peaceful purposes? Is he aware of the international discussions which are taking place at the moment? Is there any prospect of an early debate on this Motion? [That this House believes the tune has come to declare the deep ocean floor conserved as a common heritage of mankind, and that steps be taken to draft a treaty embodying inter alia the following principles: that the seabed beyond the limits of present national jurisdiction,

  1. (a) be conserved against appropriation by nations or their nationals so that the deep ocean floor should not be allowed to become a stage for competing claims of national sovereignty;
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  3. (b) be explored in a manner consistent with the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations;
  4. (c) be exploited economically or made use of with the aim of safeguarding the interests of mankind;
  5. (d) be conserved exclusively for peaceful purposes in perpetuity.]

Mr. Pearl

I have noticed this extremely interesting Motion. This matter is being discussed in the ad hoc committee of the United Nations, but I cannot find time for a debate on it in the House at this stage.