§ Mr. Maudling
May I ask the Leader of the House whether he will state the business of the House for the first week after the Christmas Recess.
§ The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Fred Peart)
The business for the first week after the Christmas Adjournment will be as follows:
MONDAY, 19TH JANUARY—Second Reading of the National Superannuation and Social Insurance Bill.
Motion on the Wales Rural Development Board Order.
WEDNESDAY, 21ST JANUARY—Debate on a Motion to take note of the White Paper on Public Expenditure, 1968–69 to 1973–74. (Command No. 4234.)
Motion on the Caribbean Development Bank (Subscription to Shares of the Capital Stock) Order.
THURSDAY, 22ND JANUARY—Supply [6th Allotted Day]:
Conclusion of the debate on Public Expenditure.
Motions on the Import Duties (General) (No. 3) and (No. 4) Orders.
FRIDAY, 23RD JANUARY—Private Members' Bills.
MONDAY, 26TH JANUARY—Supply [7th Allotted Day]:
Winter Supplementary Estimates.
The subject for debate to be announced later.
§ Mr. Maudling
Does the Leader of the House recall that in the recent foreign affairs debate my right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) put forward a suggestion about the use of helicopters for relief supplies to Nigeria? The Foreign Secretary was kind enough to undertake to have this examined by the Government. May we be told when a statement is to be made?
§ Mr. Peart
We accept that this was stressed by the right hon. Gentleman's right hon. Friend and we have undertaken a detailed study of this proposal, as we have also been studying over the past months a number of other, similar, proposals which have been put forward. Our study is not yet complete, but my right hon. Friend will certainly make the results of it known.
§ Mr. Dickens
In view of the highly controversial, not to say highly unsatisfactory, findings of the Select Committee on Members' Interests (Declaration), can my right hon. Friend tell the House when we can debate this matter in the new year?
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
Has the right hon. Gentleman seen the letter in The Times this morning, signed by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen of all three political parties? Will he say that if the Foreign Secretary has not resigned from the Monnet Committee by the resumption of Parliament he will give facilities for an early debate on this very important matter?
§ Mrs. Renée Short
Would my right hon. Friend not agree that he has been extremely niggardly to the House since it returned after the Summer Recess in providing time for debates on reports from Estimates Committees? Will he look al this again and see whether it is possible to give a day for reports to be debated as soon as possible?
Mr. W. H. K. Baker
In view of the defeat of the Government on a most important Clause in the Agriculture Bill this morning in Committee will the right hon. Gentleman consult his right hon. Friend with a view to withdrawing this Bill in toto
§ Mr. Berry
Does the Leader of the House recall that last week I asked him for a statement, if possible, about the impending strike on 1st January in London Transport? While appreciating that talks are still going on, could he ask his right hon. Friend to make a statement tomorrow, if not on the causes of the strike, then as to what emergency arrangements will be made for Londoners and commuters?
§ Mr. William Hamilton
Could my right hon. Friend be a little more specific on the report recently issued about Members' interests? Could he give an undertaking that there will be a debate in the next three or four months at the latest because this is extremely important and a lot of Members are disturbed by its contents?
§ Mr. Peyton
Will the right hon. Gentleman arrange for a debate on housing shortly after the Recess? We were unable to pursue this with the Prime Minister at Question Time and would like a debate so that he could take part in it.
§ Mr. Molloy
Will my right hon. Friend agree to a housing debate, if only to discuss some aspects of the special committee's report and also the fact that a Conservative councillor in Ealing claims that the Government have built too many houses and—
§ Dame Irene Ward
Having expressed sympathy with a question I asked him last week, perhaps the right hon. Gentleman can now give me an answer. What is to happen about the transfer of teaching of the mentally handicapped from the Department of Health and Social Security to the Department of Education and Science? Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that those engaged in such education think that the Prime Minister has let them down?
Would it not give the Prime Minister a happier Christmas—not that I want him to have one—if we could have an answer, so that these dedicated young people would know where they stood?
§ Mr. Maxwell
Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that, despite the many good reasons of State given by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary for maintaining a supply of arms to the Federal forces of Nigeria, this country is urgently desirous that Her Majesty's Government do something about giving relief to Biafra? Will he not say, firmly, 1556 when the Government propose to answer the excellent suggestion put forward by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home)?
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
The House is going into recess and this is an urgent matter. I have only yesterday been able to send the Foreign Secretary some proposals from the United States which seem to me to show that relief supplies by helicopter is a logistic possibility. I understand the difficulties, but can the right hon. Gentleman say that we shall have an answer on this, if it is at all possible, at least before the House comes back? We want to know the various alternatives available.
§ Mr. Philip Noel-Baker
Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the famine in Biafra cannot be dealt with by reason, but only by action?
§ Mr. Stodart
Perhaps I may return to the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Banff (Mr. W. H. K. Baker). Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the defeat inflicted this morning on the Government in Standing Committee on the Agriculture Bill was on the most important Clause in the Measure, and that many other Clauses depend upon that? Will he at least tell us how the Government are to get themselves out of their difficulty, since they had to adjourn the Committee this morning?
§ Mr. Wellbeloved
Will my right hon. Friend find time to debate the decision to discontinue the issue of a daily tot of rum in the Royal Navy? Will he take into consideration the widespread disquiet at the continuation of discrimination between the wardroom and the lower deck in the matter of consumption of spirits on Her Majesty's ships?
§ Mr. Maudling
The right hon. Gentleman gave a strange answer when he said just now that he had no knowledge of what took place upstairs in Committee this morning. Although the proceedings cannot be quoted here now, the right hon. Gentleman must know what happened. Apparently, what happened has a considerable effect on the Government's legislative programme. The right hon. Gentleman should tell the House what he intends to do about it.
§ Mr. Christopher Price
By the time we resume after the Christmas Recess, there will be the prospect of thousands of teachers being on strike and hundreds of thousands of children receiving no education. Will my right hon. Friend promise a statement from the Secretary of State for Education and Science immediately on our return, on what he intends to do about the situation?
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
In view of the complexity, importance and enormous length of the National Superannuation and Social Insurance Bill, does the right hon. Gentleman really think that back bencheis will have sufficient opportunity in a Second Reading debate limited to 1558 one day? In view of the size and importance of the Bill, will he consider giving us a two-day debate?
§ Mr. Shinwell
My right hon. Friend is no doubt aware that discussions are proceeding between Her Majesty's Government and the Libyan Government on the provision of arms on a vast scale. May we have an assurance that, before any decision is reached, this House will be consulted by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary?
§ Mr. Shinwell
I am asking the Government whether the House will be consulted before decision is reached. As the House is not meeting for a month, I should like an assurance that no decisions will be reached in the interim.
§ Sir A. V. Harvey
Will the right hon. Gentleman give us time to debate the problems and burdens placed on the boroughs of Macclesfield and Stockport regarding the high-rise apartments, which have to be modified at vast expenditure-60 per cent. of it borne by the ratepayers, although the boroughs were directed to put up this type of building by the Government? This is very important. We should have a full debate, as we had an unsatisfactory adjournment Debate three weeks ago.
§ Mr. Hugh Jenkins
The Films Bill is to be presented shortly. What arrangements has my right hon. Friend been making for its passage through the House?
§ Mr. Peart
I have announced the business for the week we come back and I do not see the Films Bill amongst it.
§ Mr. Fisher
I return to the questions put by my right hon. Friends the Members for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) and Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) and endorsed by the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel Baker). Is the Leader of the House satisfied that he is treating this matter with sufficient urgency? After all, there are no politics in this. I am sure that he would agree that it is regarded as urgent by those who are pro-Biafra and those who are pro-Federal and that it might save many lives in Biafra? Will he consider the possibility of making an announcement tomorrow?
§ Mr. Peart
As I have said, I take this matter earnestly. It is important. It was raised by the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home), and the Government immediately reacted. The Foreign Office is aware of the feelings of right hon. and hon. Members and the study is going on.
§ Mrs. Ewing
Has the Leader of the House seen Motion No. 57—though it stands in my name it has the support of a representative of each party in this House—about injustices to old-age pensioners? Is it not time that the promise mentioned in that Motion was fulfilled and that we had a cost-of-living index to measure the matter?
§ [That this House, recognising that the level of old-age pension provision must in justice be linked to the cost of living, that the normal cost-of-living index is inadequate for this task in that it gives insufficient weight to the cost of essentials which are a greater proportion of the old people's budgets, and that, in particular, the cost of major items of essential expenditure for the aged is much higher in Scotland, calls upon the Government to institute the provision of a Scottish index with particular respect to its use in the calculation of adequate pension.]
§ Mr. Hugh Fraser
Further to the many requests that the right hon. Gentleman has received for an urgent reply to be given to the suggestion of my right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and 1560 West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) of the use of helicopters in supply relief in Biafra, and in view of the Motion which has been signed by many hon. Members to this effect, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman to say that if it should prove impracticable, for financial or other reasons, for this suggestion to be implemented, assistance will be given to Joint Church Aid, which is flying food into the area?
§ Mr. Peart
We have undertaken to have a detailed examination of the proposal. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] This proposal and many others, including some made before this one, are being studied, but the study is not yet complete. As soon as it has been completed my right hon. Friend will make the results known.
§ Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles
Would the right hon. Gentleman provide an early opportunity for the House to debate the predicament of local authorities throughout the country now that they are ground between the upper and nether millstones of conflicting Government policy?
§ Mr. Rossi
Can the right hon. Gentleman advise us whether the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity will or will not make a statement on the inter-union dispute which is causing so much hardship to London Underground users? Does he recall that this is the third occasion on which such a statement has been requested and that this is the 13th week of a strike which is causing appalling conditions?
§ Mr. Jopling
In view of the chaotic situation which faces the Standing Committee which is considering the Agriculture Bill, following the early rising of that Committee this morning, does the right hon. Gentleman realise that the Government may have to drop the whole 1561 of Part II of the Bill? Will he examine this matter carefully and give an undertaking that before the Committee meets again the Government will explain how the Committee is to proceed, for there is enormous confusion at present?
§ Mr. Orme
Reverting to the question of the London Transport dispute, may I remind my right hon. Friend that if he is to see the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity he should ask her to explain to the House why the London Transport Authority is refusing to carry out an agreement between itself and the A.E.F.? May I remind him that this is not an inter-union dispute?
§ Sir tan Orr-Ewing
May I press the right hon. Gentleman to make a more satisfactory statement about Motion No. 76, relating to the giving of food relief to Nigeria and Biafra? In view of the widespread demand in all parts of the House for an early statement to be made on this matter, cannot that statement be made tomorrow? I am sure that the proceedings of the House could be arranged so that, at any time between the debates which will occur tomorrow, such a statement could be made.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the vital need for a statement to be made before we rise for Christmas, since this is a matter which cannot be left for another month while many millions of people starve?
§ [That this House, convinced of the practicability of a helicopter lift of food and medicines from commando ships and aircraft carriers, calls on Her Majesty's Government, in conjunction with all other governments able and willing to assist, to implement this imaginative proposal for the relief of human suffering.]1562
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
While all the study is going on, would it not have been proper and courteous for the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to have reported to the House on his mission? Could he report tomorrow?
§ Mr. Chichester-Clark
What has happened to the urgent Bill to implement the proposals of the Phelps Brown Report?
§ Mr. Blaker
Has the right hon. Gentlemen's attention been drawn to the important Report of the Select Committee on the Parliamentary Commissioner in relation to the Duccio picture affair? is he aware that that report recommends that a further Ministerial statement should be made in view of the fact that the Commissioner found that certain previous remarks made by a former President of the Board of Trade were misplaced in relation to two named members of the London Society of Art Dealers? Will such a statement he made? If so, will it be made by that former President of the Board of Trade?
Mr. Edward M. Taylor
As the Secretary of State for Scotland revealed yesterday that a record total of more than 8,000 Scottish school children, mainly in the West of Scotland, are receiving only part-time education and as that is four times the figure for last year, would the right hon. Gentleman ask the Secretary of State to make a statement on the subject as soon as we return after Christmas?
§ Mr. John Page
Would the right hon. Gentleman postpone the Second Reading of the National Superannuation and Social Insurance Bill for at least a week? As the Bill was available to hon. Members only this morning, there will be less than 24 hours for us to study the matter and have discussions with our colleagues. Does the right hon. Gentleman consider that that is sufficient time for hon. Members to consider the Bill in detail?
§ Mr. McMaster
Would the right hon. Gentleman undertake to ask his right hon. Friend to make a statement about the welfare of British citizens imprisoned in China who are facing another Christmas without even consular access? What progress is his right hon. Friend making in representations to the Chinese on this matter?
§ Mr. Wiggin
As a result of the Government defeat on Clause 29 of the Agriculture Bill in Committee this morning, the agricultural machinery trade in particular and farmers in general will be left not knowing the intentions of the Government on this matter. Would the right hon. Gentleman therefore urge his right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to make an early statement on the Government's intentions about Part II of the Bill, if necessary to the Press?
§ Mr. Michael Foot
On a point of order. Is it normal practice, Mr. Speaker, for it to be suggested in the House that the Leader of the House or other Ministers should comment on what happens in Committee upstairs? If this practice were allowed to continue, 1564 would it not lead to great confusion, especially when the monstrous suggestion is made that the Government should comment on matters occurring in Committee upstairs to the Press before the Report stage has been reached in this Chamber?
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Gentleman is perfectly right about that. Hon. Members cannot, at Business question time, ask a Minister to communicate something to the Press. It would not be in order for the Leader of the House to be asked to comment on something that has happened in Committee upstairs. However, it is in order to ask him to ask the Minister concerned to make a statement. That is the purpose of Business Question time.
§ Mr. Hawkins
While not pressing the Leader of the House to comment on what occurred in Committee on the Agriculture Bill, may I ask him to promise that the members of that Committee will, if not before the Christmas Recess then during it, receive a statement setting out the Government's intentions in this matter, since without such a statement the Committee will not be able to proceed with the Bill upon our return?
§ Dame Irene Ward
On a point of order. The Leader of the House said in reply to questions about the Committee considering the Agriculture Bill that there was always the Report stage. How can there be a Report stage on an unfinished Bill? That is a new idea. I wonder whether we could have some guidance on it.