§ The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Fred Peart)
I beg to move,That this House, at its rising this day, do adjourn until Monday, 13th October.
§ 11.8 a.m.
§ Mr. John Boyd-Carpenter (Kingston-upon-Thames)
I rise to support the Motion moved by the Leader of the House in his best speech of the Session, though for reasons which are perhaps distinct from those which he would have put forward.
I must comment on the circumstances on which the Motion has been moved, It is obvious that up to the last minute the Government had no idea whether they were going to try to get the House up today. It was only yesterday that we were told of this intention, and one has to go back many years to find a precedent for having this Motion moved on the day to which it relates. This is 2235 an indication of the muddle and mess into which our Parliamentary programme has been got by the Government's mismanagement. This is the main reason why it is essential that the House should rise for the Government to have an opportunity to sort out the confusion which they have created. It is also essential that the flow of foolish and misguided legislation should be, in every sense of the word, damned. It is equally essential that we should have no more of it.
It is only fair to the Government to say that they are asking the House to rise with a remarkable proportion of their legislative programme unfulfilled. The Parliament (No. 2) Bill is still before us at a rather early point in its Committee stage which might be of a prolonged nature. But we are to rise.
The Government have made even less progress with the Bill to reform the law relating to trade unions on the lines of the White Paper "In Place of Strife". We were told that the Prime Minister was prepared to stake the life of the Government on that Measure. The Chancellor of the Exchequer made it the main feature of his economic strategy in his Budget speech. We have not even seen that Bill. But we are being asked to rise.
Then there is the Government Bill—that is what it really is—to alter the divorce laws; part of the Government programme for a permissive society which so appeals to the Chancellor of the Exchequer—in which people will be allowed to do anything except to enjoy the fruits of their own labours. It is not through, but we are being asked to rise.
There is the Parliamentary Boundary Commission Bill, which we were told was of such urgency that it had to be Guillotined; that a constitutional Measure of that sort had to be pushed through quickly. Now we are to go away for two and a half months leaving that attempt to redeem the Government's electoral fortunes without making any progress with it.
All of these things have not been done, and I cannot recall a Session in which so little of the Government's planned business has been achieved by this stage. 2236 Indeed, these sittings might well be described as the Session that never was.
Because one must weigh the arguments both ways, there are, I admit, reasons why two things should be done before we rise, and they could be done today. It is, therefore, not inconsistent to support the Motion in the hope that the Government will do them.
The first is for the Home Secretary to carry out his statutory duty and lay the necessary Orders under Section 2 of the Boundary Commission Act, 1949, to carry out the recommendations of the four Boundary Commissions. As a result of the Motion before the House, no attempt is to be made to relieve the right hon. Gentleman of his statutory duty for a further two and a half months and it is intolerable that the Minister who, above all, should pay regard to the obligations of us all to observe the law, should fail to carry out those duties. I hope that the Leader of the House will say whatever the future of the Bill—which, if it had been passed, would have indemnified the Home Secretary from the consequences of his failure to carry out his statutory duties—that he agrees that in the circumstances the Home Secretary should carry out the law in accordance with its terms, and should not set the thoroughly bad example which would be set if a Minister of the Crown disregarded his statutory duties.
The second is that the Patronage Secretary should carry out his duty. I note that the right hon. Gentleman is seated beneath me speaking with the Opposition Chief Whip. The Patronage Secretary's geographical movements inspired panic in my heart. I thought, for a moment, that in the language of the football field, a transfer had been arranged between him and my right hon. Friend. I am pleased to see the right hon. Gentleman resuming his seat on the Government Front Bench, for I would not welcome such a transfer, even at the most economical price.
The Patronage Secretary should carry out his duty and move the writs for the pending by-elections. A considerable time has elapsed in respect of all of them and in the special circumstances of Swindon it is intolerable to leave a constituency with no effective Parliamentary representation for a year or more. It is wrong for the Government to say that because 2237 they realise that the majority of electors in a particular constituency want to be represented by a Conservative Member, they should not he allowed to be represented by any Member at all. This is the reason why in this case and in the others, the Patronage Secretary has not done his duty.
As we are on the verge of the Recess, I am in a peculiarly charitable mood. I support the Motion in the confident hope—I trust that hon. Members will acquit me of undue optimism—that the Home Secretary will do his legal duty and that the Patronage Secretary will do his moral duty; and they have several hours in which to do it.
If the Motion is carried, this will end these sittings and there is a slight end-of-term atmosphere in the House. Perhaps, in a way, it resembles the school end of term atmosphere with its farewell hymn.Lord dismis us with Thy blessingI am sure that the Patronage Secretary will echo the concluding words of that hymn:Those returning, those returning make more faithful than before".
§ 11.7 a.m.
§ Mr. Charles Pannell (Leeds, West)
I hope to respond in something of the mood of the right hon. Member for Kingston - upon - Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter), who is a very attractive character. From 1945 to 1951 he was a considerable thorn in the flesh of the then Government. His memory has not carried him back to the boundary disputes of earlier days.
If we consider the past Session fairly, we must agree that we need have no regrets—I speak of hon. Members on both sides of the House—about the Parliament (No. 2) Bill and the fact that it was dropped. It was an extremely ambitious project, over which much of the mistake must lie with the Government, who some-show imagined that when they went into conversations with the other place, they were dealing with Liberals, Conservatives and Socialists.
Anyone who goes down the long corridor leading to the other place—in referring to "anyone" I mean anyone of any political complexion; there is even a Communist in the House of Lords—suffers another incarnation, as he dis- 2238 covers that the people there are not the sort of men they were or are likely ever to be again. I recall that many years ago, in connection with the Stokes Committee, one of the great constitutional crises of the time occurred when that Committee timidly suggested that when hon. Members of the Commons were entertaining lady guests they should be permitted to use the Peers Guest Room.
Things might have been different this Session had the Government seen their duty as clearly as I see it now. They should have brought in a short, sharp Bill designed to abolish the powers of the Lords to impose a delaying period on Measures, returned to us the control of Statutory Instruments and destroyed the hereditary principle. I am sure that that would have satisfied everybody. After all, that was allowed for in the Bill.
It was not necessary for this House to have inserted all the other matters in the Bill. The Lords could have done the rest and have arranged matters according to their own Standing Orders. In a curious way, we cold thereby have maintained both their self-respect and ours, for by limiting the Bill in the way I have suggested, we could have brought in legislation which would have appealed to all concerned.
When one considers the Boundary Commission issue, on which I have strong views, we cannot be accused of gerrymandering. One need only consider the Boundary Commission proposals for the county of Yorkshire. The County Borough of Ripon would be left with only about 40,000 constituents, and it would have been a Conservative borough.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Sydney Irving)
Order. I hesitate to restrict the right hon. Gentleman, but he is rather getting into the merits of the issue instead of the Motion.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The right hon. Gentleman is correct, but the right hon. Member to whom he refers did not go into any detail on these issues.
§ Mr. Pannell
This is rather like dealing with points of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker—the Chair does not know whether they are in or out of order until it has heard them.
2239 I put against the example I have just given that of Rother Valley, with 77,000 voters, which is left unaltered. This is the pattern up and down the country. It is hard if we are to have a blanket condemnation of the Government's actions with regard to the Boundary Commission if people are not prepared to come down from the general to the particular. At any rate, the right hon. Gentleman will at least believe that I think I have a case.
The right hon. Gentleman also referred to "In Place of Strife". It does not matter much what the Government said at the time. In the end, what emerged was a reasonable solution that seems to be working rather better in a voluntary way than what was envisaged in the legal ideas. To that extent, we must be rather glad if we do away with the necessity for legislation.
It is a good thing that the Government have left this to the last day. They might have been provoked into rejecting their Lordships' Amendments, and the right hon. Gentleman would be kept away from his holiday place, leaving his suffering wife and children somewhere else while he must apply himself to his duties here. Putting their Lordships on ice until 13th October will give them time to cool down, to have further thoughts on the matter and cogitate about whether an unelected Chamber should presume to interfere with the affairs of an elected Chamber. It will bring many people to their senses—not least, I hope, the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg), who seems to be going round the bend on this issue.
§ 11.22 p.m.
§ Mr. R. H. Turton (Thirsk and Malton)
Unlike the right hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell), I do not regard this as the end of term and the beginning of a holiday, when we go away with buckets and spades, and I do not share the view of my right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) that the Motion should be supported, because I believe that we should not adjourn for the long period of 11 weeks without having been given the full cost of the Government's estimate of joining the European Common Market.
The Government have been indulging in a conspiracy of silence on this matter. 2240 The Prime Minister and other Ministers have refused to give the information—
§ Mr. Turton
I am very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman. If he will give us the revised costs during this debate, I would feel it necessary to support the Motion, and not to oppose it.
I have the greatest admiration for the Parliamentary skill and dexterity of the Prime Minister, but on 10th June this year he used words on this matter that have made it very difficult for hon. Members to use Question Time to elicit this information, of which the country is in great need. I believe that the device he used to try to evade an answer is quite contrary to the history of Parliament. Questions are being refused at the Table Office by Mr. Speaker because of the Prime Minister's reply. Therefore, our only remedy is to raise the matter in debate. The Prime Minister said:I see no reason in present circumstances to change the general estimates given to the House during the major three-day debate on the Common Market two years ago,…That was before the Government allowed our currency to be devalued, and before the Common Market agricultural policy cost had increased by nearly 100 per cent.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The right hon. Gentleman cannot debate the merits of the issue on the Motion.
§ Mr. Turton
I was not trying to do that, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was not debating, but quoting the Prime Minister, and if you hear the latter part of his reply you will realise its significance to the debate on today's Motion. He added:but certainly before any final decision is taken to enter into negotiations—and that depends not on us but on others—we would wish to inform the House and consider in those circumstances what further information should be sought."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th June, 1968; Vol. 784, c. 1225.]It is wrong to pretend that the cost of entry, the estimates of which were given by the present Lord President of the Council and the Prime Minister on 8th May, 1967, are relevant today. Second, it is wrong, and unworthy of the Prime Minister, so to word his reply as to make it difficult for hon. Members 2241 to ask what is his present estimate of the cost of entry. This is keeping the nation in the dark, and one of the difficulties of this situation is that if we adjourn now for 11 weeks the nation will not know what the cost is to be. Paper after paper comes out with differing estimates. The Prime Minister said on 8th May, 1967, that the increased cost to the housewife would be between 10 and 14 per cent. In the Financial Times on 15th May this year, John Cherrington put that cost at £844 million, and only last week Mr. Guy de Jonquieres put the cost at an increase of—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The right hon. Gentleman is going into far too much detail. He is beginning to debate the matter.
§ Mr. Turton
My case is that there is a conspiracy of silence, Mr. Deputy Speaker. You are in the position of protecting the rights of private Members, and I feel that I should be allowed to state the facts and not be kept silent.
Mr. Jonquieres put that cost at an increase of 53 per cent., by comparing household expenditure on food. It is not fair that the housewife of this country should not know from the Prime Minister and the Minister of Agriculture what their estimate of the cost is.
The Prime Minister has said that he is not changing his estimate of the cost to the balance of payments, which on 8th May, 1967, was from £175 million to £250 million. But in The Guardian in June Mr. Mark Arnold Forster put that cost at £593 million. Before we go away for a long holiday with our buckets and spades, our duty is to let our constituents know what would be the cost of entry into the Common Market.
Parliament is supposed to be the watchdog of public expenditure. By their action, the Government have blindfolded and muzzled that watchdog. I shall have to vote against the Motion, unless I have a reassurance from the Lord President.
§ 11.30 a.m.
§ Mr. Douglas Jay (Battersea, North)
I rise to oppose the Motion in a speech which will be almost as short as that in which my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House moved it and which will deal with the merits of no question 2242 other than whether this House should now adjourn.
Like a number of hon. Members, I believe that we should not adjourn, whether taking up buckets and spades or anything else, for more than two months until at least we have had an explanation from the Government of the mystery of what the Foreign Secretary said in Brussels on 15th July and of the glaring discrepancy between the statements of the Prime Minister in this House and of the Foreign Secretary on various occasions outside on whether this country should join a federal state in Europe.
In spite of what the right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) said, it seems to me that there are some muddles which should not be left to fester for 10 weeks while this House adjourns—
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
Does not the experience of the last 10 weeks suggest that more muddles fester more virulently when the Government are here putting through foolish legislation?
§ Mr. Jay
I am a good enough Parliamentarian to believe that on the whole we do more good than harm by sitting in this House—at any rate under this Government. It is just as undesirable that European opinion should be left in confusion about this issue: for nearly three months as it is that British opinion should be. If the House now adjourns without any explanation, a great deal of damage will be done.
It appears at the moment that the Prime Minister is following one policy on this crucial issue and that the Foreign Secretary is following a contradictory one for which he has no authority from this House, from the country or even from the Cabinet. In answering a supplementary question of mine on 4th February, the Prime Minister said that it was certainly not the Government's policy to take the United Kingdom into any sort of federal state in Europe or elsewhere. He repeated that assurance a few weeks later in another Answer to me. Indeed, he said only on Tuesday of this week that a federal Europe…does not fit in with the general opinion of this House or the country as an immediate proposition."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd July, 1969; Vol. 787, c. 1498.]2243 Surely, then, before the House adjourns, we ought to have an early explanation of the Foreign Secretary's repeated statements to the contrary. He goes on saying these things. He signed an Anglo-Italian Declaration on 28th April in which he said advisedly that… the European Communities should be sustained by an elected Parliament.While that may be right or wrong, an elected Parliament is either a total sham, without power, or it involves federation and the loss of sovereignty by this House.
The Foreign Secretary has also joined M. Monnet's notorious Committee, which is not just a Committee for uniting Europe, whatever that may mean, but a Committee forthe United States of Europe",which means a federation. If the Prime Minister's declarations represent the policy of the Government, the Foreign Secretary should never have joined such a Committee; and, to avoid further misunderstanding throughout Europe, we ought to have an assurance before the House adjourns that he will resign from this curious body.
What seems to demand an even more immediate explanation before we are dismissed with your blessing, Mr. Deputy Speaker, is the Foreign Secretarys statements at this meeting on 15th July. We were informed this week by the Leader of the Liberal Party that the Foreign Secretary at that meeting… led ail those present to believe that the Government had no reservationson Professor Hallstein's plan for an integrated Europe—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The right hon. Gentleman is really going into too much detail in this matter.
§ Mr. Jay
I always accept your guidance, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I was going no further than to say that it is surprising that this House should learn of the Government's policy on a subject as important as the federation of Europe from a supplementary question asked by the Leader of the Liberal Party in this House. That at least seems to call for early elucidation from the Foreign Secretary before we adjourn. We really would like to know what he said on that occasion. It puts us in an extremely difficult 2244 position if we are asked to go away and keep quiet for 10 weeks without any explanations being given.
There are other matters which, in deference to your desire for brevity, I will not now outline but which ought to be cleared up before we disperse. One is the important question which the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) has just raised about the cost to the balance of payments of entering the E.E.C. All that I would say about that is that I find it a little odd that the Government should tell us that it is impossible to calculate that cost when apparently in the next 10 weeks they intend to go on pushing ahead with our application.
For all those reasons, and in order not to strain your patience further since they are very similar to the reasons put forward by the right hon. Gentleman, I hope that we shall have some elucidation of these matters before the House adjourns.
§ 11.36 a.m.
§ Sir Derek Walker-Smith (Hertfordshire, East)
My right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) supported the Motion, as I understand it, on the general ground that more harm would be done if Parliament continued to sit and further legislation was introduced than if the Motion were carried and the House went into recess. With great respect to my right hon. Friend—and it is a very great and real respect, as he knows—on the whole it is not Parliament that does the harm. The Government do it. It is a proclaimed platitude in Whitehall that it is a happy day on which Parliament rises and the mandarins of Whitehall are able to pursue their course in a less fettered way.
I want to support what has been said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) and the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay). Obviously no one, however perfectionist, could argue that the House should wait to go into recess until there are no urgent problems requiring the attention of the Government. That would mean, at any rate in modern times, that we were unlikely ever to go into recess, which is hardly a practical proposition. However, the House is entitled to put forward the proposition that we should not be asked to go into recess at a time 2245 when the Government are in breach of their primary constitutional duty to practise the principle of Ministerial responsibility to Parliament and to keep Parliament fully informed of the matters which are exercising the Government, and in regard to which they are pursuing their administrative courses.
By reason of the two points raised by my right hon. Friend and the right hon. Gentleman, the Government are clearly in breach of their constitutional duty in that they are not keeping Parliament informed. When I say it in that way, I put it really by way of understatement in perhaps an unduly passive sense. Not only are they not keeping Parliament informed. The evidence is that they are actively engaged in seeking to obstruct Parliament from having the information which Parliament should have if the constitutional doctrine of Ministerial responsibility to Parliament is to be upheld.
The first of these matters is the one to which my right hon. Friend has adverted in regard to the economic cost of adhering to the Treaty of Rome in the circumstances of today. Of course it is an obstruction of the right of Parliament to knowledge to say that figures were given in 1967. Quite apart from the passage of time, which brings it own changes, there has been what the law calls a new intervening act since that time—indeed, two. First, there was devaluation, which clearly would affect all the figures given then, and, secondly, there is the crisis of the common agricultural system within the Six, which again invalidates the figures. I recommend those who have not done so to read the excellent letter by the right hon. Member for Battersea, North in the last issue of The Economist in which all these figures are set out.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
Would it not be a good idea if my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) followed modern governmental practice and put them into HANSARD?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. Not on the Motion for the Adjournment of the House for the Summer Recess.
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
My right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames is trying to be helpful and I am grateful. The course I was going to pro- 2246 pose, so as to give it still greater authority, as it deserves, was to request the Leader of the House to read into the record the letter of the right hon. Member for Battersea, North to The Economist in which all these matters are set forth. But even that is no substitute for a clear evaluation by the Government of this matter, and that should have been given to the House before this Motion was brought forward.
The other matter has been dealt with by the right hon. Member for Battersea, North and I need not, therefore, do more than refer to it very briefly, but I would be wanting in my duty if I did not testify to its importance. Yesterday, in company with some of my right hon. and hon. Friends, I put a Motion down on the question of the attendance of the Foreign Secretary at the proceedings of the Monnet Committee for a United Europe. The terms of that Motion set out accurately the nature of the breach of constitutional propriety which this involves.
I support what has teen said by the right hon. Member for Battersea, North, that it is right that the House should not be asked to go into recess until that constitutional impropriety has also been rectified, and rectified in the only way in which it can be, as I see it, by the immediate withdrawal of the Foreign Secretary from that Committee and the recognition that, according to the constitutional doctrine of this country and of this place, Ministers of the Crown within their Departmental responsibilities act and act only in their capacity as Ministers of the Crown and cannot pursue this ambivalent course of purporting to act in a personal capacity. From that, much doubt, uncertainty and detriment can arise. I therefore urge the Leader of the House to convey these sentiments forthwith to the Foreign Secretary, to remind him that there is still time 'twixt stirrup and the ground, and to ask him to withdraw in order that we need not oppose this Motion.
§ 11.45 a.m.
§ Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)
I oppose the Motion but for different reasons from those of the white tribalists who have been arguing about entry into the Common Market. I am very concerned about the increase in unemployment and this House should not 2247 adjourn for the Recess until we get certain assurances that the present rise in unemployment is going to be arrested, and not only arrested but that the trend is in the opposite direction.
It is important for us to recognise that over 500,000 permanently unemployed is a figure that the House ought not to accept. It would be quite wrong for us to adjourn for two months unless the Government can tell us definitely that the level of unemployment will be brought down. The question of whether we enter the Common Market, of whether my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary should or should not be on a certain committee, is, for me, to deal with certain speculative issues which have not an immediate bearing. But the question of the unemployed is with us here and now.
Certain areas which have had high unemployment over the years, and into which the Government have poured more money and assistance than any previous Government, still have levels of unemployment at 3.9 per cent., as Merseyside has, and higher. In those circumstances, it is clear that we must have an assurance from the Government before I support this Motion. I do not want to be accused in the country of leaving this House and not being prepared to raise this important matter over the next two months. I do not want people saying to me, "You are only too keen to get away but what about these economic problems?"
At the time of the Budget, many hon Members, on this side in particular, said that the squeeze going on would begin to have its effects in a serious way this autumn. I want to know from the Government whether the increased level of unemployment reflected in the figures given today is to continue and whether the figures are likely to go even higher.
I feel that I speak probably for the whole House when I say that I seek an assurance that something positive will be done during the recess period suggested in order to arrest this trend in unemployment. I want to see not merely financial aid to the development areas. I want to see us begin a reversion of our policy and an expansionist economy, which is something we have been asking for the last three or four years. I be- 2248 lieve that it is important that, when we have persistently high levels of unemployment—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The hon. Gentleman has indicated forcibly his reasons for opposing the Motion but he is now going into the merits of the issue, which he cannot do on the Motion.
§ Mr. Heffer
I am asking my right hon. Friend to give an assurance that not only will that trend be reversed, but that an expansionist policy will be pursued and that in some instances where there have been closures and so on in development areas the Government themselves will begin to introduce industries along the lines which we promised in our 1966 and 1964 election manifestoes so I seek those assurances before withdrawing my opposition to the Motion. If I can get those promises, I shall not oppose the Motion, but it is vital that the whole question of unemployment be positively considered and action taken by the Government.
§ 11.50 a.m.
§ Sir Douglas Glover (Ormskirk)
The speeches we have heard this morning from my right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) and the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) have shown that there are strong arguments for not adjourning now. We were all moved by the speech of the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heifer), who has become quite a Parliamentary performer in his time in the House and who is heard with great attention. He reinforced the argument for not adjourning at this time. However, despite those speeches, I feel that human beings can take only so much, and on this occasion I rise to support the Motion.
I am a fairly frequent attender on these benches and I have reached the conclusion that I cannot take any more from the Labour party without a break. The statement yesterday by the Foreign Secretary was saved from becoming an absolute Parliamentary obscenity only by the intervention of the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. John Mendelson). If that sort of thing is to continue day after day, the House needs a rest.
For the first time since I have been in the House, I support this Motion. As my right hon. Friend said, we are coming 2249 to the end of a Session which will go down in history as the Session that never was. The Government withdrew or sidelined the Parliament (No. 2) Bill to make room for a great Bill on industrial reorganisation which they did not then bring in. They then began to tamper with the constitution. They have misled the House on many occasion. They are in default in their obvious duty about by-elections. At this moment they are clearly a Government without faith in themselves and without truth to the nation, and the less we have to do with them and the less we have to look at them for a time, the better it will be, and a break will do us all a world of good.
§ 11.53 a.m.
§ Mr. Laurence Pavitt (Willesden, West)
Like the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover), I want a holiday, but I resist the Motion because I want the House to remain in Session for another week, because there are important matters which should be discussed in that time.
I listened with interest to what was said by the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) and by my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) about the Common Market, and I know that the Leader of the House appreciates that there are a number of hon. Members on both sides of the House who have signed Motions about this subject, partisans on both sides of the argument, and I trust that in time we shall have a debate and a vote to decide our attitude to this matter.
My concern is with a smaller matter, but I do not apologise for delaying the House for a few minutes, because most of our contributions on Motions of this kind are connected with matters which we regard as of urgent and national importance. I am concerned only about London, but London has a population of 8½ million, which is a large section of the community. Decisions are being taken about the commuting public in London in the next seven days which the House should remain in session to consider.
There is the possibility of an overtime ban on London buses being instituted within seven days. At 2 p.m. this afternoon at Transport House there is to be an important conference between trade unions, mainly the Transport and General 2250 Workers Union, to discuss what is to happen to the bus services in London in the next few days.
Hon. Members will remember that traffic conditions of London last Thursday and the previous Thursday on the occasions of Royal garden parties. I am now concerned with thousands of people going backwards and forwards to work during the ten weeks that we are in Recess. This is one of the subjects which Parliament should consider, and we should reach a decision before rising for the Recess.
When we do rise I shall be only too pleased to leave certain subjects behind me. The words of the old song were:My eyes are dim, I cannot see,I have not brought my specs with me".But this morning there is one subject which will affect my constituents, and although the facts which I shall give are drawn from the example of Willesden bus garage, they will be repeated all over the enormous area of London.
I pay tribute to the bus crews. If you were a conductor on a No. 52 bus instead of conducting the affairs of the House, Mr. Deputy Speaker, you would find that after a delay of one hour ten minutes between buses you would be put in the position of General Custer emulating Custer's Last Stand trying to hold back the irate passengers. You would have to take the consequences and not London Transport Executive. What has happened is that the bus workers—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
If the House rejects the Motion, the hon. Member will have the opportunity next week to give the House the benefit of this information, but he may not do so on this Motion.
§ Mr. Pavitt
I am grateful to you for your guidance, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I intended shortly to explain that if decisions are not made in the next few days, the commuters using these bus services throughout London will find themselves in great difficulty. The House should not rise until these matters have been resolved.
Buses are being taken off right, left and centre. I may not go into detail. I cannot, for example, tell you that on bus route No. 52, 46 duties had 15 cuts and that—
§ Mr. Pavitt
Many cuts are taking place. I submit that the answer to the problem lies in the improvement of the pay and conditions of the men concerned and that in the next seven days the House should consider these matters. On the No. 6 route from now on it will be "Never on a Saturday".
The London Transport Executive pays too much attention to the results from computers and not enough to what happens to commuters. Parliament could bring a little more common sense to these matters and have regard to the experience of the drivers and bus conductors concerned. Their knowledge should be used. Not only commuters but many others will be affected. It is important to production that people should be able to get to and from work, and a whole factory estate will be without a service unless the present decision is changed.
Bus crews have to survive eight hours in the intense London traffic congestion, although, according to official instructions, they can spread that over 12 hours and 40 minutes. It reflects great credit on the bus men that they think not only of themselves but of the travelling public.
The cancellation of one of the routes in my constituency will result in the elimination of hospital visiting, for it is the only bus route to serve both the Central Middlesex and the Willesden General Hospitals. The bus men are prepared to go without pay and to run the buses voluntarily to enable friends and relatives to visit the sick. When trade unionists make that kind of gesture, Parliament should have an opportunity to respond, and so should the London Transport Executive. I do not oppose the Motion in its entirety, but I ask that the House should not get up for another seven days.
§ 11.59 a.m2252
The hon. Gentleman says "pink", I was about to say "black", but that would have got me into trouble under the Race Relations Act. If "white tribalist" means someone who is against going into the Common Market, may I point out that the white tribalists are for more representative of the opinion of the people of this country than the dwindling band of lilac tribalists who want this country to go into the Common Market.
I wish to follow what was said by the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay). I shall not seek to go into the merits of the case or try to debate what I would have debated if we did not adjourn. I oppose the adjournment of the House without the Government making a further statement to Parliament—and I underline "to Parliament"—on the question of federalism and the Common Market. Perhaps the country will hear more about it at the great banquet which is to take place in the City of London on Tuesday night—a feast organised by the wealthy pro-Common Market interests, which, I understand, is to be blessed by the Archbishop of Canterbury. I trust that he blesses it in his personal capacity and will not in any way commit the Church to which I belong to going into the Common Market. It is not enough to hear these great orations after a good dinner and a good blessing. No supplementary questions can be asked there. We want this statement to be made not in the City but in Parliament next week.
This is a very important matter, and I should like to give one illustration because I feel that I should justify what I have said. The justification is the confusion over the question of federalism, and it should be cleared up before we adjourn. The Prime Minister said on 22nd July:I have said repeatedly that there is no immediate"—mark the word "immediate"—proposal by us or by other Governments for any federal get-together or structure in Europe … It does not fit in with the general opinion of this House or the country as an immediate proposition."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd July. 1969; Vol. 787, c. 1498]What alarms the country is the right hon. Gentleman's reference to this not being an "immediate proposition". The 2253 implication is that it might be a proposition pretty soon after the immediate.
I refer to what Dr. Luns, the Dutch Foreign Secretary, said when he spoke at the Press luncheon about a fortnight ago. He warned Britain that its application for membership of the Common Market would receive the full backing of the Dutch Government only if there were a firm British commitment to the idea of a federal Europe. There we have it—the Prime Minister saying that there is no immediate intention, the Dutch Government saying that they will support our application only if we commit ourselves to a federal Europe. This matter must he cleared up before the House adjourns. That is why I oppose the Motion.
The Leader of the Liberal Party tore the veil aside from the confidential meeting of the Monnet Committee when he confirmed what many of us had already heard; namely, that the Foreign Secretary had admitted under pressure at this meeting that the British Government had no objection to a federal solution. That is the anxiety. I believe that Dr. Luns was quite right. The Common Market, if it is to mean anything, must be federal.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The hon. Gentleman is now debating the merits of the issue on which he would like to address the House next week.
§ Mr. Marten
I accept that I erred, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
I return to the point which the Leader of the Liberal Party made in an intervention on 2nd July. He said that it was no good the Government speaking with two voices—one voice to Europe and one voice to Britain. We should not adjourn until the Government have cleared up this essential point.
The six European countries of the Common Market must understand that the British people would not tolerate federation for a minute. I wish that the politicians of the six Common Market countries would meet the people rather than the politicians of Britain. They must realise that the British people are not interested in going in—
§ Mr. Marten
I was about to adjourn myself, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Only 33 per cent. of the people of this country wish Britain to go into the Common Market.
§ 12.5 p.m.
§ Mr. David Winnick (Croydon, South)
I am not sure whether I should start by apologising for breaking up what seems to be a debate on whether Britain should go into the Common Market, but I wish to refer to another subject. I should like to explain why, in my view, it is an important subject and why we should have a statement on it before we adjourn.
I refer to the question of relief food supplies going into Biafra. The Leader of the House will know that last week I asked whether it would be possible for the Foreign Secretary to make a statement on the situation before we adjourn. I am very concerned that my right hon. Friend has not made a statement. The House may be in a holiday mood, but the situation in Biafra is far from being in a holiday mood. It is as grave as possible. There is a desperate need there for food and medical supplies. I should like the British Government to find a compromise solution for the air flights which have not been taking place from neutral territory to Biafra for some weeks. In fact, the Red Cross supplies have been cut off since 10th June.
If my right hon. Friend had made a statement, a number of us would have urged that a British Minister should visit Biafra as well as Nigeria, first, to consider the possibility of achieving agreement on air flights and, secondly, in using our good offices to try to end this terrible, bloody civil war. I find it difficult to understand why my right hon. Friend has not made a statement to the House.
Some people believe that this is a foreign civil war in which we have no direct responsibility and, therefore, ask why we should raise the matter on the Floor of the House. No one suggests that we ourselves can end the civil war. Nigeria is an independent country, and only the two sides in it can decide when the war must end, either through fighting or, we hope, through negotiation. However, we have some moral responsibility 2255 because of our supply of arms to one side.
§ Mr. Winnick
I appreciate that the terms of the Motion make it virtually impossible to debate the matter. Nevertheless, I submit that the situation is grave and that Britain has a moral responsibility because we continue to supply arms to one side.
I see from a report in The Times today that 51 tons of medicine—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The hon. Gentleman is proceeding further along the road of debating the issue.
§ Mr. Winnick
I appreciate the position, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
I conclude by saying that I hope that, even now, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will make a statement. But, since it appears that the Motion will be accepted and that we shall go into recess, I urge the Government of the need to achieve a solution to the problem of the air flights. The people of Biafra are desperately in need of food and medicine and the British Government should do everything possible to get the two sides agree to food and medicine going into Biafra.
§ 12.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Bessell (Bodmin)
I oppose the Motion on two grounds. There are two issues which I believe are of such significance that it is impossible for the House to adjourn without their being clarified.
The first relates to my constituency. In a recent issue of The Guardian, the Director of the Chemical Defence Experiment Research Establishment at Porton Down, Mr. G. N. Gadsby, was quoted as saying that quantities of nerve gas are transported by road from Nangekuke in Cornwall, in the constituency of the hon. Member for Falmouth and Camborne (Dr. John Dunwoody), to Porton for experimental purposes. We all know of the recent tragic accident at Okinawa and the decision of the President of the United States that nerve gas shall not be transported by road. It is inevitable that if this statement is correct 2256 —and I have no reason to doubt it—the nerve gas must pass through my constituency, and if there should be an accident there might be a considerable loss of life similar to that which occurred in Okinawa.
My hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock) has already written to the Secretary of State for Defence and asked for an assurance that this practice will be discontinued. But I would not be doing my duty to my constituents if I did not oppose the Motion until such time as the House has been assured that the undertaking requested by my hon. Friend is put into practice. My constituents are deeply alarmed, and only today I have had messages from many of them. Therefore, it is a matter of considerable concern to me and to everyone involved that the matter should be dealt with immediately. I cannot support the Motion until there has been a clear and unequivocal statement at least similar to the undertaking given by the President of the United States.
It is worth mentioning in support of my argument that Mr. Gadsby is also quoted as saying—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harry Gourlay)
Order. The hon. Gentleman is not adducing an argument for or against the Motion. Perhaps he would relate his remarks a little more directly to the Motion.
§ Mr. Bessell
I am obliged for your guidance, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I oppose the Motion on the ground that this matter gravely affects my constituents, and it is very pertinent to my opposition to the Motion that Mr. Gadsby has said that the nerve gas is not carried through holiday traffic—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The hon. Gentleman is pursuing the argument which he would pursue if the House rejected the Motion, and therefore I ask him to apply his remarks more specifically to the Motion.
§ Mr. Ivor Richard (Barons Court)
On a point of order, I have been listening to the debate since it started, and this is about the sixth time that that kind of direction has been given from the Chair, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Could you give the House some guidance on this matter? It seems to me that that type of 2257 direction is totally illogical and an utter non sequitur in this debate. I am not questioning it, but the hon. Gentleman is adducing an argument to try to persuade me and other hon. Members that because of urgent, pressing and necessary matters we should not go into recess. How on earth can he try to persuade us that they are urgent, pressing and necessary without telling us the merits of the argument?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The Chair's Ruling on this type of debate has always been that Members may adduce reasons why the House should not adjourn without debating the merits of the position which the hon. Gentleman concerned is trying to put to the House. That is the Ruling which I am trying to apply this morning.
§ Mr. James Dickens (Lewisham, West)
Further to that point of order. It is most important that we have a ruling that is rigorously and uniformly applied, in our debates on this matter. In our debates this morning some right hon. and hon. Members have adduced information in support of their arguments, and the hon. Member is simply seeking to emulate them. This is quite different from seeking to argue a detailed case for or against the Motion, and I ask you to bear that in mind, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The Chair always tries to deal with Members very leniently in debates of this type and to act as fairly as possible between Members. It is not an easy position, and I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will bear with the Chair in trying to rule fairly.
§ Mr. Bessell
Your Ruling places me in difficulty, Mr. Deputy Speaker, because as you have stated that I cannot quote from an important comment by the Director in question which indicates the severity of the risk involved, I cannot present to the House a clear case why it should not adjourn. But I am bound by your Ruling.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. I did not precisely stop the hon. Gentleman from finishing his quotation. I was trying to ask him to come to a rapid conclusion on the details of the case he is submitting, for otherwise it becomes a very wide debate.
§ Mr. Bessell
I am very grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, because that assists me. Strong prima facie evidence of the risk is shown in the statement by Mr. Gadsby that the nerve gas is not carried through holiday traffic where this can be avoided. He is thus admitting that there is the very risk that I am so anxious should be avoided and on which I want an assurance before the House adjourns.
I support the speeches of the right hon. Members for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) and Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) and other hon. Members who have spken about our possible entry into Europe. I do not believe that the House can adjourn without our constituents knowing the present estimates, which I am confident the Government must have made, of the cost of Britain's entry. Before the House rises my constituents will want to know what the rise in the cost-of-living will be. The housewives will want to know what the increase will be in their weekly expenses for providing the ordinary necessities of life for their families. My farmer constituents will want to know the effect on their business activities and financial interests. Many people throughout the country are desperately anxious to know what the effect on the balance of payments will be of entering the Common Market.
These issues have been raised again and again in the House during the present Session, and the Government have refused to give adequate answers. I acquit the Lord President. When he was Minister of Agriculture he did not shield the facts from the House. He behaved in the honourable way that we associate with all aspects of his conduct in the House. Therefore, I find it deplorable that we should be asked to rise without at least a similar statement from his successor as Minister of Agriculture.
The arguments advanced by other right hon. and hon. Members on this matter cannot be improved on, and I support them all. It is clear that while the House is in Recess negotiations for entry into Europe will continue. The Government are suffering from a disease that we might call Euro-mania, and unless we know the facts, unless we know the cost and the consequences, it is wrong for the House to go into Recess and for those negotiations to continue while we 2259 lack knowedge which our constituents demand shall be given to them.
§ 12.19 p.m.
§ Mr. James Dickens (Lewisham, West)
I shall be brief, and I hope that my remarks will come within the rule of order.
I strongly support the plea of my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) which was echoed by some right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, about the need for a full statement from the Government during the Recess on the economic implications for this country of joining the European Economic Community. I recall that when my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House was Minister of Agriculture, he provided this information through his Department. We all hope that there will be a revised forecast of the cost to our balance of payments, for example, of the direct consequences of entry into the European Economic Community. There are also the substantial additional consequential costs of a successful British application.
Many of us on this side also share the concern expressed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North about the drift of the present Government into a federal Europe and about the rather ambiguous position of my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary concerning the so-called Monnet Committee. As my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) said, few of us on this side are white tribalists in regard to the European question, but we want to ensure that if this country enters into any negotiations with other Powers we do so only after a full consideration of all the consequences This should be the common aim of all those who are either for or against entry into the European Economic Community.
My second point, on which there will be no disagreement between my hon. Friend the Member for Walton and myself, is on the question of unemployment. It is highly unsatisfactory that we are starting a long Parliamentary Recess with the level of unemployment high and rising. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the course of an interesting speech at Abingdon last Saturday, discussed what he thought were the hallmarks of a civilised society. I 2260 remind him and my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House that a fundamental hallmark of a civilised society is, in the eyes of many of us on this side, the retention and maintenance of full employment. We shall certainly want an assurance from my right hon. Friend when he winds up the debate that the Government will exert their best endeavours to ensure that full employment is given a much higher priority in the economic policy of the Government than it has had hitherto.
I turn now to make a brief reference to the question of by-elections. The right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) referred—
§ Mr. Heffer
Will my hon. Friend take it from me that the accusation of white tribalism does not apply to him? Would he not, however, agree that there are some people who oppose entry to the Common Market purely because they are tribalists?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. I do not think that the hon. Member should pursue that tempting question.
§ Mr. Dickens
As you know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I am more accustomed to the clan system than the tribe system and it might be best if I leave the matter at that.
On the question of by-elections, we on this side need no advice from the right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames or any member of the Opposition about the way to uphold democracy. Having said that, however, I must make the point that a number of us on this side are concerned about what seems to us to be the excessive delay in holding some of the current by-elections. I refer particularly to the by-elections at Newcastle-under-Lyme and Swindon. It is no answer to say, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said recently in response to a Parliamentary Question, that the Tory Party, when in power, delayed holding by-elections at Ludlow and Orpington in the early 1960s. Our social values should be higher than theirs. The British people expect that of the Tory Party when they are in power but they have a right to expect higher political standards from us
. 2261 I very much hope that when my right hon. Friend replies to the debate, he will indicate that the Government intend seriously to consider the introduction of legislation in the next Parliamentary Session to lay it down that by-elections should be held within a fixed statutory period after a seat falls vacant.
Finally, I wish to draw attention to the need for a further explanation from my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House of his remarkable reply yesterday to my hon. Friend the Member for Willesden, West (Mr. Pavitt) concerning Members' facilities and services in this House. I mention this in no parochial manner. It is not simply a question of the extension of basic services to Members of the House. Those services are essential if we are to develop and extend democracy. I want, however, to ask my right hon. Friend to be somewhat less ambiguous than he was in the course of his reply on two important points. The first is the recommendation of the Services Committee dealing with the provision of secretarial services to Members.
My right hon. Friend said—and we welcome this fact—that the Governmentagree in principle with the Committee's recommendation in paragraphs 4 and 5 of the Report on the provision of secretarial assistance for Members.But my right hon. Friend then went on to say:I propose to enter into early discussions on what would be the most efficient and acceptable way of providing Members with secretarial help that they need, bearing in mind the varying requirements of individual Members and the importance of avoiding unnecessary public expense.I hope that my right hon. Friend will not be unduly influenced by the Treasury in the course of those negotiations, because this House will stand for no impertinence from that quarter. It would be quite preposterous if the Treasury mandarins, with their vast secretariat, were to dictate to us that we could not afford additional secretarial assistance and services for Members. The total cost of this might be £750,000 per annum but this must be set against the fact that we are legislating for a country which has a gross national product of almost £35,000 million a year.
Moreover, my right hon. Friend went on yesterday to say that he would con- 2262 suit "representative Members" on this question. I wonder who they are. I hope that I will not be thought to be too immodest if I suggest to my right hon. Friend that he might consult some of us who have been active in this matter in recent months.
Next, I draw attention to the passage in his speech in why my right hon. Friend dealt with the vexed question of the increased allowance for motor car usage. We have to ask my right hon. Friend for more specific information about what the Government propose for Members with constituencies outside the London area.
I also refer to that part of my right hon. Friend's reply dealing with Members' salaries. I am puzzled and perplexed by the indication given by my right hon. Friend in his reply thatThe Government consider it … appropriate for the whole question of the level of Members' salaries to be referred to the National Board for Prices and Incomes during the next Parliament."—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, 24th July, 1969; Vol. 787, c. 475–6.]What on earth is that supposed to mean? If it means that the Government are tying the hands of their successors in this matter, well and good, but I very much doubt whether that is the case and whether the Government have the power to lay it down that the next Government must proceed to refer this matter to the Prices and Incomes Board. I put it to my right hon. Friend that in his reply he must answer the point, which many of us have made to him privately and publicly in the recent past, that the Government should refer this matter to the Prices and Incomes Board in the lifetime of the present Parliament for report and implementation after the next General Election.
With those few succinct observations, I close by saying that the length of this Parliamentary Recess—10 weeks—is excessive. I hope that the House of Commons will soon find time for a debate on a recent Report by the Select Committee on Procedure which recommended shorter recesses and revised sitting times for our debates.
§ 12.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Tom Boardman (Leicester, South-West)
It is not often that I have cause to disagree with my right hon. Friend 2263 the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) or with my hon. Friend the Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover), but in their support of the Motion I have to part company from them. They suported it on the ground that we have had enough of the foolish and bad legislation for one Session and we should wish to get away from it. In my view, we should stay here until some of those injustices have been put right.
The prospect of right hon. and hon. Members opposite lying in the sun chortling at their so-called achievements in the past Session—or, indeed, doing so in their constituencies—are thoughts which somewhat appal me. I ask myself, what will they be taking pleasure about? Will they be taking pleasure and satisfaction out of the rigging of the next Election? If so I would suggest that they spend their time reflecting on some of the speeches in another place which will certainly give them cause for contemplation.
I wonder whether they will be feeling pleased with themselves about the further burdens they have heaped on industry, and getting satisfaction and the relish which they seem to enjoy as they constantly strangle the goose that lays the golden eggs. I hope that they will reflect that many of the services and things which we all seek are dependent upon the creation of wealth and upon the opportunities and incentives which are extended to industry. While this House is in recess, those who are concerned with industry and commerce will be struggling with the additional burdens placed upon them and will be endeavouring to interpret the meaning of some of the new legislation, in the Finance Act and so on.
I wish to turn to one particular point. It concerns the hospital services in my own constituency. I have been waiting for a reply to questions to the Secretary of State with regard to this and to a letter that I have sent him. I had hoped that these would have been received in time to have afforded opportunity of debate before the House adjourned. This point is a matter of considerable gravity. There is a hospital rehabilitation unit in the Hillcrest Hospital, Leicester, in which 78 of the beds have been closed because of lack of funds for the provision of nurses. Hon. Members, certainly hon. Members 2264 with medical experience, will know how essential it is that elderly people recovering from serious illnesses, strokes and the like, go immediately into a rehabilitation unit in order to avoid becoming bedridden for life. Now we have 78 beds closed in one hospital because of lack of funds.
I find it impossible for me to support this Motion for the Adjournment when matters, which may seem small in the concept of the whole economy, but which are large in the minds of those affected by them, the sick and their families, and which, I believe, will register deeply with hon. Members on both sides, remain unresolved.
§ 12.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Roy Roebuck (Harrow, East)
I find myself in a state of unusual indecision about this Motion. On the one hand, of course, I take account of the compelling and persuasive speech of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House in moving the Motion! Moreover, one or two other points occur to me about whether it is proper that we should go away for the Recess. We have seen in the last month or two one or two difficult matters on which hon. Members have views which should be expressed. We have seen my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister being engaged in measures to get the balance of payments into surplus after the dreadful mess we were left in by right hon. and hon. Members opposite.
On the other hand, my researches show that the House will be getting up for the Summer Recess at the earliest time this century, and it may be that we ought to take that into consideration while considering this Motion. There are many private Members who have many things to discuss. Notwithstanding the fact that this benevolent Government have provided more time for private Members than any Government since before the last war, private Members are entitled to think that we should stay here longer to discuss many of these urgent matters.
Of course, some of us have compassion for the Leader of the Opposition in going into recess since that will, perhaps, be good for him because it will save him from being pummelled twice weekly by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. 2265 That also will weigh with us to some extent.
However, I do not accept the suggestion of some hon. Members opposite that hon. Members are going on holiday. It may be true of some hon. Members opposite, but hon. Members on this side take very few holidays. I myself look forward to reading the daily Press and reading contributions from my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Dickens) and my hon. Friend the Member for Reading (Mr. John Lee) and my hon. Friend the Member for Billericay (Mr. Moorman), and my hon. Friends on this side will be pursuing their Parliamentary activities elsewhere. There is a good deal of reading which hon. Members have to do. I myself have a pile of copies of the Concrete Quarterly, which are sent to me, and I hope to find time to give to that journal and others the attention which they deserve.
§ Mr. Robert Cooke (Bristol, West)
The Concrete Quarterly—I am being serious about this—is one of the most interesting periodicals sent to hon. Members, and is well worth reading.
§ Mr. Roebuck
I assure the hon. Member, who has an obvious interest in these matters, that I have put on one side my copies of that journal in order to give it the attention which it deserves.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) thought we ought to be dismissed with the blessing of the Lord. For myself, I certainly do not think we should be dismissed till we have dismissed the House of Lords. I am certainly prepared to wait till that very necessary surgical operation has been performed. The right hon. Gentleman also gave a number of other theological reasons. Since I became a Member of the House I no longer believe with the certainty I did before that I shall go to heaven, but of this I am sure, that if eventually I do go to heaven I shall find that it is a chamber, somewhat like this, with green benches, and one side will be the communion of saints presided over by a Freudian father figure who will be very slow to chide the hon. Member for Harrow, East and will be quick to praise him. So I am in no great hurry to leave the chamber.
2266 Another reason why l think we should wait a little before we get up is that we ought to consider the procedure of debate on the Consolidated Fund. Although my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House is always very considerate of hon. Members who want to raise matters for debate I think the complexity of Government business since the war has led to debate on the Consolidated Fund being an inadequate way of checking the Executive to see they are carrying out their duties properly. Before the war very few hon. Members wanted to speak on it, but since then the House has become much more industrious—certainly in this Parliament, because the electors were wise enough to elect so many of my hon. Friends who are very diligent in the performance of their duty.
As my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House knows, the debates which we had this week on the Consolidated Fund were very few compared with the number of hon. Members who wanted to speak and the vast number of subjects which they wanted to raise. I think there were 45 subjects on Mr. Speaker's list as a result of what is euphemistically called the ballot but which one brought up in the Noncomformist tradition might call a squalid raffle. The result of this was that so many subjects which hon. Members wanted to debate were not reached, and for those which were reached, or for some of them, the time for debate was inadequate.
I refer in particular to the debate on the Press. Because of the defect in the system of the list, a number of hon. Members who wanted to take part in that debate were unable to do so, and I certainly do not want the House to get up without having an opportunity to hear on this subject from my hon. Friend the Member for Billericay who has made close and detailed study of this matter. I know that that will not commend itself to hon. Members opposite because when the question of the possible closure of the Sun was raised hon. Members opposite tittered as though it were amusing that another great organ of democracy should go out because of the operation of the capitalist system. But many of my hon. Friends want to go into a great deal of detail about this unfortunate and increasing trend for newspapers to go out of existence, because we are. concerned about 2267 democracy and the desirability that there should be sufficient media to convey all points of view, not only the points of view of hon. Members on this side, but the points of view of many people who are, perhaps, unrepresented in this House.
So I would urge upon my right lion. Friend the Leader of the House that he should perhaps suggest that we should not proceed with this Motion till we have had an opportunity to discuss that matter.
As my right hon. Friend knows, his predecessor promised there would be a full scale debate on this important subject. When this was put to the present Leader of the House recently, he said that we could not debate it on the Consolidated Fund. The debate on the Consolidated Fund was not adequate, and we should have an opportunity to discuss this matter in much more detail.
I have two or three further reasons why I think that the House should not rise. I think that there should be an opportunity to discuss the situation in Greece as it relates to our N.A.T.O. commitments. Not a week goese by without our learning that high military officers in Greece have been dismissed. There is now virtually no field officer in the Greek Army who was in his post two years ago, and this makes the rÔle of Greece as an ally in N.A.T.O. a very doubtful proposition. There should be an opportunity to debate that.
I also support the view of many hon. and right hon. Members that we should go into the question of the Common Market. Mention has been made of white tribalism, but many hon. Members feel that perhaps the Common Market countries are guilty of white tribalism. We should discuss what will be the position of the people of Mauritius and the other sugar islands should we enter the Common Market, and of people who are not in a very developed state and who suffer from starvation or malnutrition. We want to know what is likely to happen to them if, during the recess, the Government should make a move in that direction.
The House should also have an opportunity for debating the taxation policies of right hon. Gentlemen opposite. We want to know their views on value-added tax. We should also provide a special opportunity for the right hon. 2268 Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) to come to the House to give us his views on immigration so that we can examine him about his recent statement in the country to the effect that he would have contributed to one of our debates on immigration had we had one. There have been many opportunities, but, since he has not accepted those opportunities, it may be that he could be given a further opportunity.
It will be seen that I am in a state of considerable indecision about this. I shall look forward to the answer of the Leader of the House, and, if he can satisfy me, I shall be happy to go away, not to play with buckets and spades, but to read the Concrete Quarterly.
§ 12.42 p.m.
§ Sir Ronald Russell (Wembley, South)
I wish to oppose the Motion for four reasons, three of which have already been mentioned, so I shall be brief, as I think I normally am.
The first is the cost of joining E.E.C., which has been mentioned by several of my right hon. and hon. Friends. It is absurd for any Government even to consider joining without knowing the cost. It is like a non-swimmer jumping into a pool without knowing the depth of it.
My second reason concerns the Foreign Secretary's flirtation with federal Europeans, this mysterious visit in a personal capacity. I do not see how the Foreign Secretary, or any other Minister, can go to a meeting in a personal capacity when he is a member of the Government. I suggest, if anybody had to go, that a back bencher should have been sent on that operation. I hope that the Foreign Secretary during the Recess, which presumably we shall have despite opposition from some hon. Members, will take a long holiday from Europe, and will become less "Foreign" and more "Commonwealth". After all, he is the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, and I hope that he will make a tour of leading Commonwealth countries. I stand to be corrected, but I think I am right in saying that, since he has been both Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary he has not visited any Commonwealth country. It would be a good thing if he visited Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other Commonwealth countries to learn the reactions of those countries to Britain's application to join 2269 the Common Market. Until we have had some reassurance on that point, the House should not adjourn.
My third point is one which was mentioned by the hon. Member for Willesden, West (Mr. Pavitt) and concerns the inconvenience to people living in North-West London which is likely to be caused by a threatened overtime ban on the bus services. South Londoners may suffer from the iodiosyncracies of Southern Region from time to time, but in North-West London we suffer from a greater shortage of bus staff than in any other part of Greater London. I hope that the Minister concerned will look into that next week urgently, to see if he can help the long-suffering commuters by bus in that area.
My last point, which has not been mentioned, concerns the continuing refusal of the Government to implement the Littlewood Report dealing with experiments on living animals, a matter which is of great concern to all hon. Members.
It is nearly four and a half years since the report was presented to the House and, despite repeated questions by hon. Members on all sides of the House, we have had no news of when the report will be implemented either in part or in whole. Yesterday's Order Paper contained the usual Motion, in the name of the Under-Secretary of State for Home Affairs, for the Annual Return of experiments on living animals for 1968. I inquired whether it was in the Vote Office last night. It was not. I suppose that it cannot be printed until it has been approved by the House.
In 1967 there were 4,750,000 experiments. I shall be very surprised, but very glad, if the figure does not top 5 million for 1968; yet nothing is done. I know that the Leader of the House has a great concern about this, since as Minister of Agriculture he was keenly interested. I hope that he will inquire into this and give an assurance, if not before the House adjourns, at least before it is prorogued in October, about when the report is to be implemented. Far too long has gone by since it was presented, and nothing has been done.
§ 12.47 p.m.
§ Dr. John Dunwoody (Falmouth and Camborne)
I did not intend to partici- 2270 pate in the debate, but, rather to my surprise, when I was sitting in the Chamber earlier, the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Bessell) raised as a reason for the House not rising the operation—
§ Mr. W. Howie (Luton)
On a point of order. My hon. Friend said that he did not intend to take part in this debate. Many hon. Members have been sitting in the Chamber with the intention of taking part in the debate since the beginning. They have been listening with great interest to other speeches and have been rising in their places hoping to be called. I think, Mr. Deputy Speaker, you should bear these matters in mind when calling hon. Members.
§ Mr. William Molloy (Ealing, North)
Further to that point of order. Would you not agree, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that if something enters the minds of hon. Members who are listening to a debate we should say so to you. If we come to see you privately we stand a good chance of being called—that seems to be what has happened.
§ Mr. Bessell
I would plead on behalf of the hon. Member for Falmouth and Cambourne (Dr. Dunwoody) that I referred in my speech to a matter which affects his constituency.
Mr. Eric Momunan (Billericay)
Surely an hon. Member should interrupt at the time of the speech? Some hon. Members have been in the Chamber since the debate began. Furthermore, we shall all catch a pretty bad cold, because the Chamber is rather cold on this side.
It is for the Chair to decide which hon. Member he will call. I call Dr. Dunwoody.
§ Dr. Dunwoody
To my surprise, I heard the hon. Member for Bodmin raising the question of the operation of a defence establishment in my constituency as a reason why the House should not adjourn., He raised this in an emotional and exaggerated way. I reject the suggestion which he made and support the Motion before the House.
§ 12.49 p.m.
§ Mr. Peart
We have had a traditional debate during which right hon. and hon. Members raised many subjects. I have taken notes and I will try to cover the 2271 main points that have been raised. [Interruption.] I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Roebuck) will allow me to proceed; he is always courteous. I am trying to help him. I wish to reply to some important points which he raised.
The right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) said that this was the end of term. I am afraid I do not accept this sort of atmosphere. Probably I went to a different school from the one he went to, although I was a schoolmaster. I believe that a schoolboy atmosphere in this House is wrong. We must not give the impression to our constituents, or to the country at large, that because we are going into recess Members of Parliament do not work and Ministers do not do their jobs. The mentality of talking about buckets and spades is very wrong. Many hon. Members never get a holiday, and I certainly have not had one for two or three years. I hope to take one this Recess.
The House should support the Motion which I moved a little earlier. I will not get involved in the argument of the right hon. Gentleman on the timing. I have confirmed that there are precedents for having a debate on the Motion on the Adjournment on the same day as the Adjournment. Before the war it was the usual practice, but there have been precedents since then. It is not unusual and there is no attempt to be discourteous to the House.
The right hon. Gentleman made an effective speech from his point of view on the Parliament (No. 2) Bill, although he himself tried to frustrate the Government legislation in that regard, and I am sorry that he did. But in the end he well knows the reasons that the Government did not proceed with the Bill.
I should be out of order if I sought to debate the merits of industrial relations. I thought the final outcome of the proposals put forward by the Government, which led to the trade union movement, through the Trades Union Congress, doing something positive, was a tremendous advance. He would agree from his long experience that, in the end, in industrial relations it is not legislation that counts, but harmonious relations between employers and employees. 2272 The advance by the trade union movement was a positive one.
§ Mr. James Scott-Hopkins (Derbyshire, West)
Directly on this very point, would not the Leader of the House agree that we should have a statement from his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity on the unofficial strikes which are now taking place in the country?
§ Mr. Peart
I appreciate the hon. Gentleman's point that my right hon. Friend the First Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity should intervene in this matter, but the T.U.C. have taken action in one matter and this is to be welcomed. Without wishing to anticipate the Queen's Speech, I would tell the House that my right hon. Friend still has to bring in a major Bill dealing with industrial relations.
I disagree with the right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames that the Divorce Bill was a Government Bill. He knows full well that that is not the case. It is true that the Government provided time. Hon. Members on both sides supported or opposed the Bill. It was not a party Measure, it was on a free vote, and it is quite wrong of the right hon. Gentleman to say that it was a Government Measure.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
Could the Leader of the House cite any genuine Private Member's Bill for which the Government not only have provided time—the House knows that this has been done on other occasions—but have provided such enormous amounts of time as a complete all-night sitting?
§ Mr. Peart
I could not answer that fully without much research. I felt that it was right for Parliament to come to a decision on the matter since there had been long arguments and discussions. It was very wrong of the right hon. Gentleman to say that it was a Government Bill.
He then asked me to press the Home Secretary to lay Orders in regard to the House of Commons (Redistribution of Seats) (No. 2) Bill and spoke about the legal duty. My right hon. Friend will do nothing that is illegal. We have already put forward Amendments. Indeed, this Session of Parliament will continue in October, and matters which 2273 have been raised by hon. Members on that Bill and in relation to the House of Lords will be dealt with then.
The right hon. Gentleman asked me to try to impress on the Patronage Secretary that he should move Writs. That is a matter for my right hon. Friend. This point was raised with me yesterday.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) took up the argument about House of Lords reform. I will not go into that matter since it would be wrong of me to do so. He also dealt with the document "In Place of Strife", which was published by my right hon. Friend the First Secretary of State. In the end, all the negotiations on that document led to a reasonable solution, because the T.U.C. reacted in a positive way. My right hon. Friend asked not only that the Commons but also the Lords, should reflect on the matter during the Recess.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) raised the important matter of Britain's approach to the Community and the information which should be given to the House. He also mentioned the attendance of my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary at the Monnet Committee and the whole issue of federalism. This matter was taken up by many hon. Members, including the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith), the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Bessell), my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East and my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Dickens). I accept that this is an important matter and I will only say that, in view of the strength of opinion shown in the House, I will undoubtedly make representations to my right hon. Friend.
I will try to reply to the more specific points. The hon. Member for Wembley, South (Sir R. Russell) was wrong to say that the Foreign Secretary had not visited any Commonwealth countries. I recall that fairly recently he visited India, and during the Recess he will be going to Canada. One therefore should not spoil arguments by getting the facts wrong.
§ Mr. Turton
Since quite clearly the Government cannot give the House this information before 13th October, would the Leader of the House press the Prime Minister to publish a White Paper during the Recess revising the figures he gave on 8th May, 1967?
§ Mr. Peart
I will certainly make representations on the matter, but I think the House should be aware that the Prime Minister on 8th July, when dealing with the problem of whether it would be a disservice to give the House figures at that time, suggested that there were difficulties, and that one must understand them, if we were to have a meaningful figure, in view of the fact that the Common Market has to make its own fresh arrangements. One only has to look at what is happening in agriculture and its financing in the Community. There is nothing specific there, and there have been difficulties.
It is sometimes difficult to estimate what will be the effect if we join the Community and accept the C.A.P. It is true that when Minister of Agriculture, I was able to produce f figures in a White Paper. I remember winding up a debate one evening and giving some interesting figures, which I repeated in the country, about the effect of the C.A.P. on the cost of living and its implications for British farmers.
It would be now extremely difficult to make that sort of estimate in view of the difficulties in the Six in regard to C.A.P. That is why the Prime Minister said what he said, and the circumstances and assumptions on which any estimates could be based are changing all the time. That is the difficulty. As the Prime Minister said to the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), all information available will be given as soon as it is meaningful to do so. My right hon. Friend has said that. I shall convey the views of right hon. and hon. Members to my right hon. Friend, and stress the importance of this to the economy.
§ Mr. Bessell
We agree that there are certain difficulties arising out of the problems which the Common Market itself has with its agricultural policy. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will agree 2275 that our application is based on the siuation as it is at the moment, not as it might be in the future. We are, therefore, entitled to know now the consequences of the application being successful. This is what right hon. and hon. Members are pressing for.
§ Mr. Peart
I know that, and I accept what the hon. Gentleman says, but I gave the reply which was given by the Prime Minister, and I shall make the necessary representations.
On the other matter of federalism, I can only repeat what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said the other day, when he was quite specific, and this matter has been commented on on other occasions. I do not know whether what was said by the Leader of the Liberal Party was right, because this was a confidential meeting. I do not intend to be dragged into an argument because the Leader of the Liberal Party has broken a confidence.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) also dealt with this. He asked about figures, and really endorsed what was said by the right hon. Gentleman the Father of the House in his own inimitable way. The right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East also stressed this. I cannot go beyond what I have said. I have given my reply, which, in the circumstances, is the only reply that I can give.
My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) was a bit provocative at the beginning of his speech, when he talked about tribalism. I shall not follow this up, because I think that my hon. Friend would wish me to answer—
§ Mr. Peart
I know it was.
My hon. Friend ought to allow me to develop his argument by saying that I think he was right to stress the importance of the Government's dealing with the whole question of unemployment. My hon. Friend was strongly supported by my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, West. I was asked 2276 whether I could give a categorical assurance that the Government would regard this as an urgent matter. My hon. Friend mentioned the problems of the development areas and the regions. I have an interest here not only as Leader of the House and a member of the Government, but as the Member of Parliament for a region which has suffered considerably due to the closure of collieries, and, therefore, I have sympathy for what my hon. Friend said.
It is the Government's policy to attack this problem vigorously with all the measures possible, and I assure my hon. Friend that even during the Recess I shall continue to press my colleagues who have responsibility for dealing with these areas. We do not underestimate the problems. If my hon. Friend accepts that assurance, I hope that he will support the Motion.
The hon. Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover) said that he supported me because he could not take any more Government activity or legislation.—[HoN. MEMBERS: "He has gone."] I admire the hon. Gentleman. As he has left the Chamber, I wish him a very happy Recess.
My hon. Friend the Member for Willesden, West (Mr. Pavitt) raised the question of the bus problem in London, and it was stressed, also, by the hon. Member for Wembley, South. My hon. Friend will not expect me to interfere with, or make pronouncements about, this, because, as he said, a joint conference is being held with the unions concerned. I assure him that the Department of my right hon. Friend the First Secretary of State will look carefully at this problem. There are difficulties, such as the question of overtime, and so on. It would be wrong of me to pontificate on this matter, but I hope that my hon. Friend will accept that we are aware of the problem.
The hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) stressed the question of the Common Market, which was raised by other hon. Members. I mention this because from time to time he has pressed me for time to discuss a Motion.
My hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South (Mr. Winnick) mentioned Biafra. Only yesterday he had a Question to the Prime Minister on this subject. 2277 We have debated this issue on many occasions. It would we wrong for me to argue the question on Nigeria, and who is responsible for relief not getting through to certain areas. The Foreign Secretary and the Government watch this continually. We have always recognised that there is a problem. I do not wish to debate the matter, but we shall continue to keep my hon. Friend informed about it.
The hon. Member for Bodmin raised the question of nerve gas being transported through parts of Cornwall and Devon, through his constituency. He said that his hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock) had written to the Secretary of State for Defence about this. He said, too, that there was a prima facie case to be answered. I shall not give a reply now, but I assure him that immediately after this debate I shall contact my right hon. Friend to see what reply is being sent to the hon. Member for Orpington, and then write to the hon. Gentleman. The hon. Gentleman also raised the European problem, and I have answered that.
My hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, West also raised the question of the E.E.C., and rightly talked about the balance of payments issue, the C.A.P., and why more information should be provided. He also stressed the problem of unemployment, and then raised a matter for which I have a direct responsibility, namely, the Report of the Services Committee on services and facilities for Members. The hon. Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Robert Cooke), who did not take part in the debate, has raised this matter with me. He is a member of the Services Committee, and has played an important part in producing a positive report.
I hope that my hon. Friend will not be pessimistic. It is right that we should discuss this. When I talk about responsibility, I include my hon. Friend because he has given evidence to the Committee and has taken a great interest in this matter. I hope my hon. Friend will appreciate that I am anxious to get something positive, and that there are details to be worked out.
§ Mr. Dickens
My right hon. Friend can rest assured that he will have the full 2278 support of hon. Members in not standing for any impertinence from the Treasury on this matter.
§ Mr. Peart
My hon. Friend has made his point. In his speech he made the point very succinctly when he was talking about facilities for Members. The report is available, and I hope that many hon. Members will read it. I shall try to act on it as quickly as possible.
The hon. Member for Leicester, South-West (Mr. Tom Boardman) raised a problem affecting the health department in his constituency. I shall make representations to my right hon. Friend on this matter. I am sure that he will treat it sympathetically, and will no doubt communicate with the hon. Gentleman.
My hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East, in a rumbustious and lively speech, which I enjoyed, raised many matters apart from the Common Market. He referred to two important matters which were not touched on by other hon. Members. The first was the question of Greece. This is a matter for the Foreign Secretary, who will, no doubt, note my hon. Friend's views. The second is the possibility of a debate on the Press. I can truthfully say now, "Not next week". My hon. Friend always agrees with me when I make that statement. The fact is that a debate on the Press could be rather academic.
I have tried to reply to all the points which were raised, but there is one matter of some importance to which I ought to refer. I give the normal assurance of being willing to make representations to Mr. Speaker that the House should be recalled under Standing Order No. 117 if circumstances require it.
§ Mr. John Lee (Reading)
Will my right hon. Friend include in those circumstances any further development in Rhodesia with regard to the setting-up of a republic there? Will he assure us that we shall be recalled to discuss that?
§ Mr. Peart
I shall net give an assurance on any specific subject. If we think that there is an emergency, and that it is right to have Parliament recalled under Standing Order No. 117, as we have done previously, it will be for the Government to decide, and it will be done. I give that assurance.
2279 So it only remains for me to wish all right hon. and hon. Members a very happy summer holiday.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Robert Mellish)
rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.
§ Question, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.
§ Question put accordingly and agreed to.
That this House, at its rising this day, do adjourn till Monday 13th October.
§ Mr. Scott-Hopkins
On a point of order. Is it not a fact that if we had continued the previous debate this would not have detracted from the amount of time available for the Adjournment debates which have been selected by Mr. Speaker? In that case, is it not most unusual for the Patronage Secretary to move the Closure when so many right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House have urgent and pressing reasons why we should or should not go into recess?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Sydney Irving)
Order. I should not allow debate on a decision that has been taken by the Chair.
§ Mr. Scott-Hopkins
I am not trying to debate it, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but am asking whether or not we would have curtailed the Adjournment debates by continuing to debate the Motion. If we would not, was it not unusual for the Patronage Secretary to move the Closure after a very short period—
§ Mr. Scott-Hopkins
The right hon. Gentleman has already spoken, and wasted the time of the House. Was not it rather unusual for the Patronage Secretary to move the Closure, Mr. Deputy Speaker?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
I cannot discuss the conduct of the Patronage Secretary. I can only answer the point of fact that the hon. Gentleman has raised. It is correct that the remainder of the proceedings will be timed, and that continuing the debate on the Motion would not have detracted from the time given to hon. 2280 Members, although it might well have kept them here much longer.