HC Deb 13 March 1969 vol 779 cc1564-70
Mr. Heath

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

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

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

MONDAY, 17TH MARCH—Supply [I2th Allotted Day]:

Vote on Account of the Civil Estimates and Defence Central Estimates, 1969–70.

Opposition Prayer on the Industrial Training Levy (Agricultural, Horticultural and Forestry) Order.

It is expected that the Chairman of Ways and Means will order the postponed consideration of the Brighton Corporation Bill and the York Corporation Bill for seven o'clock.

TUESDAY, 18TH MARCH—Continuation of the Committee stage of the Parliament (No. 2) Bill.

WEDNESDAY, 19TH MARCH—Supply [13th Allotted Day]:

Air Estimates, 1969–70, Vote A.

Remaining stages of the Immigration Appeals Bill and of the Genocide Bill [Lords].

THURSDAY, 20TH MARCH—Supply [14th Allotted Day]:

Navy, Army and Air Money Votes.

Motion on the Eggs (Protection of Guarantees) Order.

FRIDAY, 21ST MARCH—Private Members' Bills.

MONDAY, 24TH MARCH—Supply [15th Allotted Day]:

Debate on Foreign Affairs, on a Motion for the Adjournment of the House.

On that day the Question will be put from the Chair on all outstanding Votes.

Mr. Heath

First, when will the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity be making another statement to the House about the very serious industrial dispute at Ford's, the importance of which is again emphasised by the grave deficit in the trade balance announced today?

Secondly, who will be responsible for answering the Prime Minister's Questions when the Prime Minister himself leaves for Nigeria after his dramatic intervention in the closing minutes of the debate later today?

Mr. Peart

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity made a statement yesterday. I will inform her that the House wishes to be kept continually informed about this very serious matter. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will accept that the Government wish to keep the House in touch with what is going on. The right hon. Gentleman will realise the procedure which applies when the Prime Minister is away.

Sir Knox Cunningham

Where has he gone now?

Mr. Speaker

Order. I would remind the House that there is a debate ahead for which the House has been waiting for some time. If we can restrict the number of business questions at least one more of the 36 Members who wish to speak in the Nigeria debate will be called.

Mr. Boston

Does my right hon. Friend accept that there is still an urgent need for a statement about the timing of the local inquiries announced by the Roskill Commission, especially as the first one is due to take place in such a short time—on 5th May? Will my right hon. Friend have consultations about the opportunities which will arise for a statement next week when my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade is due to answer Questions on Wednesday?

Mr. Peart

My hon. Friend raised this matter last week. I have noted it. I said that I would convey what he said to my right hon. Friend. This has been done. I will bear it in mind.

Sir W. Robson Brown

Is the Leader of the House aware of the grave anxiety in certain parts of Surrey arising out of the disastrous floods of last September? I am deeply dissatisfied with some of the Answers that Ministers have given to my Questions on this vitally important matter. [HON. MEMBERS: "Reading."] I now ask the right hon. Gentleman to provide time for a debate before the Easter Recess.

Mr. Peart

The hon. Gentleman has made his point. I will note it, but we cannot have a debate on it next week.

Mr. C. Pannell

Will my right hon. Friend deny that the Recess is to be shortened and put back for the summer to make way for the concluding stages of the Parliament (No. 2) Bill?

Mr. Peart

My right hon. Friend should not indulge in hypotheses. Let us wait and see.

Mr. Hastings

In view of the various Motions which have been put down, signed by a large number of right hon. and hon. Members on both sides, and the grave doubts felt on both sides of the House about the working of the Land Commission, does not the Leader of the House consider that it would be far more sensible if we debated that matter on Tuesday next instead of the ridiculous Parliament (No. 2) Bill?

Mr. Peart

I know that the hon. Gentleman has strongly expressed his view against the Parliament (No. 2) Bill. I should not equate it with the Land Commission.

Mr. Molloy

Does my right hon. Friend agree that we ought to have an early debate on Rhodesia, if only to give hon. Members on this side an opportunity to challenge the two-faced attitude of the Leader of the Opposition in bellyaching about law and order in this country while supporting treachery, repression and rebellion against the Crown in Rhodesia?

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman must ask a business question, without additional matter.

Mr. Peart

We cannot have a debate next week, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Braine

In view of the serious and, so far as I am aware, unprecedented events in Anguilla, where, according to reports, a Minister has had to leave under duress, will the right hon. Gentleman arrange for the Foreign Secretary to make a statement at the earliest possible opportunity?

Mr. Peart

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Lubbock

Has the Leader of the House noted the serious criticisms made of Government policy with respect to Select Committees by the hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh) in The Times today? Although I do not share the gravamen of the criticisms, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will arrange for an early debate on the Government's policy with respect to the expansion of the Select Committee system in general.

Mr. Peart

The hon. Gentleman should not take too seriously the hon. Member to whom he refers. If it be necessary to make a reply to the Committee, it will be done.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I again remind the House that there is ahead a debate on Biafra and Nigeria.

Sir H. Harrison

Will the Leader of the House give more time beyond 10 o'clock for the important Air Estimates next week, particularly in the light of what happened last night on the Army Estimates, when various hon. Members could not make their speeches and others such as myself, had to cut very interesting speeches short?

Mr. Peart

I dare say that a shorter speech from the hon. and gallant Gentleman would probably be better.

Mr. Roebuck

Will my right hon. Friend put some reality into next week's deliberations on the Parliament (No. 2) Bill? What discussions has he had with the Leader of the Opposition about the progress which he expects to be made next week? Has the Bill still got the support of the Leader of the Opposition? Does my right hon. Friend not think that it would be more productive to consult the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell), the real Leader of the Oppo- sition, who is opposed to the Measure, so that we could know where we were?

Mr. Peart

I can only say that this is a Government Bill and that we shall proceed with it.

Mr. Godber

Will the Leader of the House confirm that the much delayed statement on the Annual Agricultural Price Review will be made next week, and will he tell us who is to make it?

Mr. Peart

It has been announced, and my right hon. Friend will make it.

Mr. Hector Hughes

Will the Leader of the House give time next week for my Motion No. 206, about public rights to beaches, which is not the same matter as that raised by the Brighton Corporation Bill next week?

[That this House, realising the inroads which have been, and, in the case of the proposed Brighton Marina, which are being made to the public rights to Her Majesty's foreshores and beaches, calls on the Government to take urgent steps to stop those inroads and, where those inroads have taken place under statute or otherwise to reverse them and so maintain the public right of full and free access to Her Majesty's foreshores and beaches for the purpose of sea bathing, swimming and other open air and marine enjoyment.]

Mr. Peart

Not next week, Sir.

Mr. Kenneth Baker

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the growing concern among back benchers on both sides about the length of speeches in the Chamber? So far this month, when we are supposed to be in Lent, a period of self-denial, there have been two speeches over an hour, four speeches over three-quarters of an hour, and 21 speeches over half an hour. Will the right hon. Gentle-man consider asking the Select Committee on Procedure to look again at the question of restricting back-bench speeches to a quarter of an hour and Front Bench speeches to half an hour?

Mr. Peart

I have great sympathy with what the hon. Gentleman says, but it is not a matter for next week's business.

Sir T. Beamish

Is the Leader of the House aware that the Standing Committee which is considering the Auctions (Bidding Agreements) Bill adjourned yesterday after a Government defeat, and that this arose entirely from the failure of the President of the Board of Trade to make a statement giving the House his conclusions following the Departmental inquiry? Will the right hon. Gentleman give an absolute assurance that such a statement will be made before next Wednesday?

Mr. Peart

I am aware of that, and I replied earlier to an hon. Member about it. I am informed that one of the difficulties is that the whole question of defamation and the law relating to it arises on the matter. I shall convey the hon. Gentleman's views.

Mr. Clegg

Is the Leader of the House aware that, if the Government were next week to bring in a Bill to abolish the Land Commission, from our point of view on this side it would go through in five minutes flat?

Mr. Peart

I am not so sure, in view of the previous interventions of some of the hon. Gentleman's hon. Friends.

Sir Knox Cunningham

When will the Leader of the House announce the dates of the Easter Recess?

Mr. Peart

Next week.

Mr. Channon

May I press the Leader of the House further about the Auctions (Bidding Agreements) Bill? It is vital that we have the statement before next Wednesday; otherwise, the Committee will not know whether to proceed.

Mr. Peart

I accept that, and I have already given a reply about it. I hope that what I have said will be accepted. I shall do all I can about it.

Mr. Jopling

Will there be a statement next week on the future of Levens Park, in Westmorland, which is threatened by a motorway? Will the Leader of the House draw to the attention of the Minister of Transport the fact that the Motion on this matter has already been signed by 150 hon. Members?

[Thas this House urges the Minister of Transport to take steps to find ways of diverting the M6 link road to Kendal, so that the incomparable Levens Park, the oldest landscaped park in England, now in its prime, can be saved.]

Mr. Peart

I am well aware of that matter. The hon. Gentleman is a neighbour of mine and he will understand that I appreciate his concern. I shall convey his views to my right hon. Friend.

Mr. van Straubenzee

In view of the widespread anxiety about the matter, will the Leader of the House next week table a Motion remitting to the Select Committee on Education and Science the question of the registration of the direct interests of Members in business matters outside the House? Will he take it that a large number of hon. Members who are personally affected have pressed for this for some time and would support him in so doing?

Mr. Peart

I understand that, but I cannot do it next week.

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