HC Deb 23 April 1970 vol 800 cc640-8
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, 27TH APRIL—Second Reading of the Construction Industry Contracts Bill and of the Guyana Republic Bill [Lords].

Motions on the Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Orders and on the Civil Aviation (Crown Aircraft) Order.

TUESDAY, 28TH APRIL and WEDNESDAY, 29TH APRIL—Subject to the recommendations of the Business Committee, remaining stages of the Ports Bill.

THURSDAY, 30TH APRIL—Second Reading of the Shipbuilding Industry Bill. Remaining stages of the Guyana Republic Bill [Lords].

Motions on the Judges' Remuneration Order and on the Industrial Training Levy (Construction Board) Order.

FRIDAY, 1ST MAY—Private Members' Bills.

MONDAY, 4TH MAY—Private Members' Motions until 7 p.m.

Afterwards, remaining stages of the Administration of Justice Bill [Lords].

Mr. Heath

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us when the Industrial Relations Bill and the Finance Bill will be published?

Mr. Peart

I expect the Finance Bill to be published on 28th April and the Industrial Relations Bill soon thereafter.

Mr. Philip Noel-Baker

Will my right hon. Friend give us a debate on Rhodesia at the earliest possible date?

Mr. Peart

I cannot promise a specific date. I note what my right hon. Friend has said.

Dame Irene Ward

May we have a debate on the composition of the Committee on Privacy? There is only one woman member of that committee and as privacy is a matter in which women are equally as interested as men, and privacy affects women very much, might not it be more appropriate to have more than one woman on that very important committee?

If the Leader of the House cannot promise me a debate on the subject, will he ask the Home Secretary to reconsider the position with a view to establishing a better relationship between men and women on the committee?

Mr. Peart

I was not aware that men and women had a bad relationship on that committee.

Dame Irene Ward

There is only one woman.

Mr. Peart

I know that, but one woman can do very well. But I would say, " Not next week ".

Mr. William Hamilton

When will my right hon. Friend provide time for a debate on the Report on the Declaration of Members' Interests? It is extremely urgent that we have one very soon.

Mr. Peart

I know that it is important. My hon. Friend and many others press me for debates on many reports. To find time is extremely difficult. I cannot promise, but I will look at this carefully.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

Could the Leader of the House ask the Secretary of State for Scotland to make a very early statement on unemployment in Dundee, as he told his hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Doig) yesterday that the unemployment percentage in Dundee is below the Scottish average, whereas the reverse is the case?

Mr. Peart

I will look into this, and convey what the hon. Gentleman says to my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Henig

Will my right hon. Friend find time for a debate on the recent Report of the Select Committee on Procedure to allow, among other things, hon. Members to express their views on the persistent refusal by the Table Office to accept certain classes of Questions?

Mr. Peart

I have said that I will look at Reports from Select Committees. There are many; it is a matter of assigning priorities. I am sorry, but not next week.

Sir F. Bennett

The Leader of the House may be unaware of it, but within the last hour or so it has become known that Her Majesty's Government have delivered a final ultimatum to the Marta Government on the terms of aid which the Malta Government have found unacceptable. Her Majesty's Government are, however, claiming that the talks are still going on. It would appear that the Malta Government, on the other hand, say that the talks have inevitably broken down and that there is deadlock and stalemate.

Will the right hon. Gentleman ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to tell us about this matter? Let us learn about it through a statement in the House rather than in diverse ways.

Mr. Peart

Immediately after Business Questions I will contact my right hon. Friend's Department. It would be right to give the House information on this important matter.

Mr. Faulds

May I stress the necessity of an early debate on Southern Rhodesia, in view of the dubious behaviour of the Leader of the Opposition in making contact with the illegal regime in secret, which he has not denied?

Mr. Peart

We have already had an across-the-floor exchange on this issue today. I told my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) that I will take note of the request for a debate. I am aware that there is also on the Order Paper Motion No. 248 about Rhodesia.

Mr. Marten

Has the right hon. Gentleman read Motion No. 242 on the Order Paper, standing in the names of some of my hon. Friends and my name, concerning the decision by the Secretary of State for Education and Science to dismiss in August this year the so-called " unqualified teachers "? In view of the unfairness of that decision, should there not be a debate?

[That this House urges the Secretary of State for Education and Science to revoke his decision that unqualified teachers shall be dismissed by 31st August, 1970 and, whilst agreeing with the general proposition of a fully qualified profession, to consider a new scheme whereby those existing unqualified teachers who have given satisfactory service and are required by the local education authority shall be allowed to continue teaching.]

Mr. Peart

I accept that the Motion is important. I have read it, naturally, in view of my interest in education. My right hon. Friend will be considering whether any relaxation of the policy would be sensible and practicable. I will convey the hon. Gentleman's views to him.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the question of Malta with some urgency? No money has been going into Malta for a year now. If these negotiations have really been broken off, it will be a serious matter. Will he ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to make a statement tomorrow?

Mr. Peart

Yes, Sir. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman is aware that there was a Question down for Answer by my right hon. Friend today, but, unfortunately, the hon. Gentleman in whose name it stood did not appear to ask it, so that the Answer will be written. In view of the representations which have been made, I will consider this matter.

Mr. Hector Hughes

Will my right hon. Friend rearrange the business for next week so as to find time for a matter of urgent importance to the North-East of Scotland—namely, the improvement of Aberdeen harbour and the consequential communications between the North-East of Scotland and the Continent of Europe?

Mr. Peart

Not next week.

Sir R. Grant-Ferris

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when he proposes that the House should rise for the Whitsun Recess, about which there have been many conflicting rumours? Hon. Members would then be able to make their plans.

Mr. Peart

I am aware of the situation. I will make a statement as soon as possible.

Mr. C. Pannell

Will my right hon. Friend consider a short debate on the Standing Orders of the House, to give Mr. Speaker power to end endless repetition and stop the continual cheating points of order?

Mr. Peart

I do not think that that is a matter for me or for business next week. It is not for me to take up the point of view expressed by my right hon. Friend.

Sir D. Glover

Will the right hon. Gentleman find time in the near future for a debate on the chaos in Committees on Government Bills upstairs? Bill after Bill is being saved from defeat by the casting votes of Chairmen, which he will appreciate is a very bad precedent and is not good for the running of the House.

Mr. Peart

The hon. Gentleman made this point last night and I took it up in a non-party sense. I must watch this situation, but I cannot promise a debate now.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins

More than 100 hon. Members have signed a Motion calling for the Government to hold a debate on the difficulties of the various communications media, all of which—radio, television and Press—are in difficulties of one sort or another. Will my right hon. Friend regard this matter as one which should be debated in the near future. and on a Government Motion'?

[That this House, having regard to the difficulties and problems facing the communications media of this country, believes that a Royal Commission should be set up to examine the newspaper industry, radio and television transmission, and the film industry, with terms of reference to include what steps the Government or bodies set up by the Government should take for the avoidance of monopoly and for the protection and expansion of variety of ownership, influence and control in all areas, and especially in that of the free and various dissemination of news, views and debate, and that the terms of reference should also include a recommendation that the Royal Commission should examine the communications media of other countries and should make recommendations on the role of advertising in these media and on what steps should be taken to prevent the further reduction in the number of newspapers nationally and locally and to facilitate the establishment and financing of new and independent channels of communication, especially newspapers.]

Mr. Peart

I accept that all these matters which hon. Members bring to my notice are important, but I have to decide priorities. I am now dealing with next week's business and my answer must be to my hon. Friend, "Not next week ". But I note what he has said.

Mr. Hugh Fraser

I apologise, first, to the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney-General for not being present earlier when some reference was made to me. Last week, the Prime Minister used extraordinary words in relation to the Official Secrets Acts. He said: I know of no case … where the Official Secrets Act has been used or invoked to prevent public discussion or knowledge of information that should be available." — [OFFIGAL REPORT, 21st April, 1970; Vol. 800, c. 240.] In view of this, could the right hon. Gentleman give time for an early debate, so as to make clear to the Prime Minister what these Acts are about?

Mr. Peart

I could not.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

On previous occasions there have been discussions through the usual channels with my right hon. Friend about allying the salaries of hon. Members with judges' salaries. Have there been any discussions to see that hon. Members are treated on the same basis as judges for salary increases, which is to be debated next week? Surely it has always been the practice to have such discussions?

Mr. Peart

I cannot answer for a matter of that kind. I am dealing with business for next week. A Motion on judges' salaries will be put down. The salaries of judges is an entirely different matter from the salaries of hon. Members. I have made a statement on this before.

Mr. McMaster

Has the right hon. Gentleman's attention been drawn to Motion No. 252 on the Order Paper standing in the names of 40 of my hon. Friends and my name, calling attention to and deploring the excessive and unbalanced publicity given to disturbances caused by riotous and seditious groups and their spokesmen or spokeswomen and the encouragement given to a Republican minority in Northern Ireland—

[That this House deplores the Independent Television network broadcast on Tuesday 21st April of a programme based on a one-sided view of the riots in Londonderry in August 1969, and a biased commentary by the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster, whose statements are designed to create further ill-feeling and to add to the tension caused by the Republican threat in Northern Ireland.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman cannot argue the merits of what he wants to debate. He can only ask for a debate or statement.

Mr. McMaster

In view of this, will the right hon. Gentleman provide time for a debate on this subject next week so that there may be no further attacks on the police or Army in Northern Ireland?

Mr. Peart

The hon. Gentleman must surely be aware that the broadcasting authorities are independent in matters of programme content. I have noted the second part of the Motion. I understand that the I.T.A. has, in relation to Ulster, portrayed a number of different points of view.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The right hon. Gentleman cannot argue the merits either.

Mr. Lipton

Will my right hon. Friend look again at Motion No. 150, standing in my name, because even the expenditure of £250,000 on extra police protection is unlikely to be able to control the largest demonstrations ever seen in this country, which will take place if the South African cricket team comes to the Oval and elsewhere?

[That this House calls upon the Secretary of State for the Home Department to arrange with the authorities concerned that the South African Cricket X1 shall not play at the Oval for the following reasons: the large coloured population living in the vicinity of the Oval are being asked to demonstrate against the matches in large numbers, the maintenance of law and order for the three days of the matches against Surrey and and England will impose upon the police a very difficult, if not impossible, task of adequately protecting life and property, and the risk of race riots will inevitably tend to worsen relations between the police and public, so undoing the good work over many years by responsible local bodies to maintain and improve good inter-racial relations in the Brixton area, and its matches proposed to be played at the Oval can be arranged for some other venue where the risks and disadvantages already mentioned will be much less.]

Mr. Pearl

I am prepared to look at this, but it is not a matter for business next week.

Mr. Crouch

Will the right hon. Gentleman ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to make a statement next week about the continued use of the chemical herbicide 245T, which is causing widespread concern in that danger to health may be involved?

Mr. Pearl

My right hon. Friend has issued a statement on this matter, on which he keeps careful watch. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will see the statement.

Mr. Abse

Has my right hon. Friend's attention been drawn to the comments by the Lord Chief Justice in which, justifiably, he draws attention to the fact that there has been no debate in the House yet on the Beeching Report? In view of my right hon. Friend's past promises on this matter, can he say whether a date has been fixed for a debate?

Mr. Peart

I cannot give a fixed date now. I am sympathetic to my hon. Friend's request, but I cannot go beyond that today. He will appreciate the pressures on business and those pressures must be realised not only by Ministers, but also by back benchers. But I will do what I can. I have given a sympathetic answer.

Mr. Onslow

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it was widely expected that the Government's proposed Civil Aviation Bill would be published before the end of the month? Does he see any hope of any legislation on this important matter this Session?

Mr. Peart

I am dealing with next week's business. I cannot go beyond that now.