HC Deb 21 November 1968 vol 773 cc1535-41
Mr. Heath

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

The Lord President of the Council and the Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Fred Peart)

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

MONDAY, 25TH NOVEMBER—Supply [3rd Allotted Day]:

Debate on the Economic Situation.

Motions on the Hire Purchase (Amendment No. 9) and (Amendment No, 11) Orders.

Resumed debate on the Prayer Book (Further Provisions) Measure.

TUESDAY, 26TH NOVEMBER, and WEDNESDAY, 27TH NOVEMBER—Progress on the Committee stage of the Representation of the People Bill.

THURSDAY, 28TH NOVEMBER—Second Reading of the Immigration Appeals Bill.

Motions on the National Insurance (Reserve) Fund and on the Greater London, Kent and Surrey Order.

FRIDAY, 29TH NOVEMBER—Private Members' Motions.

MONDAY, 2ND DECEMBER—Until 7 p.m., Private Members' Motions.

Afterwards, Second Reading of the Local Government Grants (Social Need) Bill.

Mr. Heath

Will the Leader of the House help the House by telling us whether he thinks that his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be able to make a statement today? Will it be made tonight, or will it be made tomorrow morning? The right hon. Gentleman will be aware that we have given up a Supply day for Monday's debate on the economic situation so as to give the House an opportunity to discuss our economic affairs and the Chancellor's statement.

Mr. Peart

I am well aware of that. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has not returned yet from Bonn. When he does, I will certainly convey the right hon. Gentleman's views to him. It is possible that he will make a statement tomorrow.

Mr. Winnick

May I draw the attention of the Leader of the House to Motion No. 39, signed by nearly 140 Labour Members, condemning the speech made last Saturday by the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell)? Would it not be a good idea to have a debate so that the right hon. Gentleman can come to the House itself and defend and justify his obnoxious views?

[That this House condemns the speech made by the Right honourable Member for Wolverhampton, South-West, at Eastbourne on 16th November, and welcomes its immediate repudiation by the Leader of the Opposition; and further calls upon the leaders of the three major parties of state to emphasise yet again in clear and unmistakable terms their commitments to the cause of racial tolerance.]

Mr. Peart

I am well aware of the Motion and of my hon. Friend's views on this matter. Indeed, earlier today hon. Members expressed views on this subject. However, I cannot find time for a debate next week.

Mr. Heath

May I raise one other question with the Leader of the House? The Second Reading of the Representation of the People Bill is to be followed, only a week later, by two days in Committee. As the Bill is of such importance, will the right hon. Gentleman kindly arrange that we do not have more than one day next week so that we can have a little longer to consider the Bill and suggest Amendments?

Mr. Peart

I have already seen some Amendments to the Bill. Perhaps we can have a discussion through the usual channels.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

I remind the House that Business question time is growing and eating into Thursday's business. I hope that hon. Members will show some sense of voluntary restraint, if I may coin a phrase.

Mr. Milne

As our E.F.T.A. partners are our strongest foothold in Europe, will my right hon. Friend consider arranging for a statement to be made next week by the President of the Board of Trade on the E.F.T.A. meeting in Vienna, to be followed by a debate on Europe?

Mr. Peart

I recognise the importance of the E.F.T.A. discussions in which my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade is participating. I shall certainly convey the views of my hon. Friend to my right hon. Friend when he returns and, if necessary convey my hon. Friend's desire for a statement.

Mr. Hastings

In view of the large measure of opposition in all parts of the House to the proposals for House of Lords reform, which ended in a Division last night, will the Leader of the House say whether the Government are to persist with the Bill? If so, when will it come forward?

Mr. Peart

I thought that there was fairly large majority for the White Paper.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins

No doubt accidentally, my right hon. Friend omitted to mention the time which no doubt he has allocated to a discussion of Motion No. 28, about the Children and Young Persons Regulations, a Motion signed by hon. Members on both sides of the House. If he had so omitted to mention the time, will he kindly tell us when it will be and, if time is not to be allocated to it, could he put it in some time during the course of the week?

[That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Children (Performances) Regulations, 1968 (S.I., 1968, No. 1728), dated 30th October, 1968, a copy of which was laid before this House on 7th November, be annulled.]

Mr. Peart

It will not be possible to debate the Regulations next week, but I hope that my hon. Friend will have a word with me about it. After all, he is my Member.

Mr. Lubbock

Will the Leader of the House reconsider having the Committee stage of the Representation of the People Bill so soon after Second Reading? Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that many Members will wish to have time to study the Second Reading debate and to consider what points should be made in Committee and to draft Amendments? It is difficult to do all this in only a week.

Mr. Peart

I have given a reply on this earlier. I thought that I was trying to help.

Mr. E. Rowlands

Would the Leader of the House say when we are to have a debate on local government reorganisation in Wales, since there is a statement to be made this afternoon in reply to a Written Question? Is it not time that we had this debate? The White Paper is now nearly 18 months' old. May we have a chance to debate this on the Floor of the House?

Mr. Peart

This is certainly a very important matter for Welsh Members. It may be a suitable subject for debate in the Welsh Committee. I will note what my hon. Friend says.

Sir H. Harrison

It will be within the recollection of the Leader of the House that last Monday's debate on the Highway Code, when there was much criticism of the Ministry of Transport from both sides was brought to a summary end by the Closure being moved. Not enough hon. Members supported it. Now I hear that the code is not to be debated next week. When will it be debated?

Mr. Peart

I hope that we shall be able to continue that debate. I thought that it was very useful, and I hope that my right hon. Friend will note many of the constructive points which were raised.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon

Can the Leader of the House tell us when we are to debate the Second Report of the Select Committee on the Parliamentary Commissioner, which raises the very important question of the House's supervision of individual civil servants?

Mr. Peart

It is an important matter, but I cannot arrange for time for it next week. I will bear it in mind.

Mr. Hugh Fraser

Would the right hon. Gentleman, before Christmas, provide time for a debate on the Biafran situation, which, since we last debated it, has deteriorated, and is further deteriorating, and for which this House has some responsibility?

Mr. Peart

I know that the right hon. Gentleman takes a great interest in this and has expressed his views very forcibly on this matter. I am dealing specifically with next week's business, and I cannot find time in that period for such a debate. I note the views of the right hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Hector Hughes

Will the Leader of the House, in the coming week, please find time for a debate on my Motion No. 40 "Science, Courage and the Spirit of Adventure"?

[That this House is of opinion that, in the interest of science, navigation and the British spirit of adventure, the Government should invite the Director of the National Maritime Museum, Sir Francis Chichester and Sir Alexander Rose to address a meeting to be presided over by the Duke of Edinburgh in Parliament for the benefit of the Members.]

This, at least, would be a diversion from the other subjects which my right hon. Friend has mentioned.

Mr. Peart

My hon. and learned Friend is a diversion in himself—I say this in the nicest way. But I cannot find time for this next week.

Mr. Gwynfor Evans

Returning to local government reorganisation in Wales, the Government are apparently arriving at final decisions in this matter, and are to publish them tomorrow, in answer to a Written Question, without consulting Parliament at all. We have not had a debate on the White Paper, which was published nearly a year and a half ago. May we have a debate in the House, as a matter of urgency?

Mr. Peart

I have noted the views, not only of the hon. Gentleman, but of my hon. Friend. It could be a suitable subject for the Welsh Committee.

Sir F. Bennett

Has the attention of the Leader of the House been drawn to Motion No. 41, "Speculation in Foreign Currency"?

[That this House regrets that the Chief Secretary did not confirm that it is legally and physically impossible for British residents to speculate in foreign currency; and calls upon him to state the exact position unequivocally as soon as possible.]

Yesterday, in response to an accusation that speculation by British residents against the £ sterling was going on, the Chief Secretary said that he was not sufficiently informed to be able either to say that it was going on, or whether it could go on. Even if we do not have a debate, may we have in time for Monday's debate a Minister who would have learned these elementary facts, and who could give them to the House?

Mr. Speaker

Order. We cannot drift into argument about Monday's debate. The hon. Gentleman must seek his opportunity in the debate.

Sir F. Bennett

On a point of order. I asked whether I could have a statement next week. I thought that that was a perfectly fair request, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker

I understand exactly what the hon. Gentleman said.

Mr. Russell Kerr

In view of the continuing disturbances in Londonderry, and elsewhere in Northern Ireland, may we have the promise of an early debate, so that this highly unsatisfactory situation can be discussed by the House?

Mr. Peart

This is not specifically a matter for next week, but the Government certainly watch the progress of events in Northern Ireland. It may well be that at some future date we shall have a debate on Northern Ireland.

Sir Knox Cunningham

Can the right hon. Gentleman confirm, as the Government have on so many occasions, that matters of law and order are solely the responsibility of the Parliament of Northern Ireland?

Mr. Peart

That is not a matter for business next week.

Mr. Speaker

I am grateful to the House.