HC Deb 30 April 1970 vol 800 cc1464-9
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, 4TH MAY—Private Members' Motions until 7 p.m.

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

TUESDAY, 5TH MAY—Second Reading of the Finance Bill.

Consideration of Lords Amendments to the General Rate Bill and to the Roads (Scotland) Bill.

Motions on the Ploughing Grants Schemes.

WEDNESDAY, 6TH MAY—Supply [22nd Allotted Day].

Debate on Unemployment, which will arise on an Opposition Motion.

Remaining stages of the National Health Service Contributions Bill.

THURSDAY, 7TH MAY—Debate on the Report of the Royal Commission on Assizes and Quarter Sessions. (Command No. 4153.)

Motion on the Gaming Clubs (Licensing) (Amendment) Regulations.

FRIDAY, 8TH MAY—Private Members' Bills.

MONDAY. 11TH MAY—Remaining stages of the Fishing Vessels (Safety Provisions) Bill, the Conveyancing and Feudal Reform (Scotland) Bill, and the Local Authority Social Services Bill.

Consideration of Lords Amendments to the Films Bill.

Subject to the progress of business, we shall propose that the House should rise for the Whitsun Adjournment on Friday, 15th May, until Monday, 1st June.

Mr. Heath

The House has just heard a statement from the Foreign Secretary about the Middle East. Will the Leader of the House ask the Foreign Secretary to bear in mind the need to keep the House informed about the grave situation developing in Cambodia, and to do this by means of a statement rather than by answering individual Questions?

Mr. Pearl

My right hon. Friend, who is present on the Front Bench, will note that request. Naturally, he is watching developments closely and will wish to keep the House informed.

Mr. Snow

Is my right hon. Friend aware that we should want an urgent debate if incidents should occur of incursion by Egyptian sorties into Sinai with Soviet pilots? If that were to happen, that would be a very serious development.

Mr. Pearl

I cannot go beyond what my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has said. Obviously, he will want to keep this matter in mind.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Is the Leader of the House aware that it is now about three weeks since the Select Committee on Procedure made a Report recommending a modest extension in the time available for Parliamentary Questions—a view which seems to be shared by the Prime Minister? Is it not a terrible waste of the time of those who serve on such Committees and of those including yourself, Mr. Speaker, who give evidence before them, if, after all this work is done and carefully considered proposals are made, they are simply ignored?

Mr. Pearl

The right hon. Gentleman must not feel that matters of that kind are ignored. I can assure him that they are not ignored by me.

Mr. Winnick

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many of us would like a statement as soon as possible about what representations are being made by Her Majesty's Government to the American Government about the extension of the Vietnam war in Cambodia, warning the American authorities of the folly and madness of further extending this unnecessary and futile war?

Mr. Pearl

I cannot go beyond what I said in reply to the Leader of the Opposition. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary is watching developments closely and will, if necessary, make a statement to the House.

Dame Joan Vickers

As it is months since we had the Duncan Report, may we, in view of its great importance, have a debate on it soon? If not, will the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that he will not make any major alterations before there is a debate?

Mr. Peart

I am aware of the importance of the report. I note what the hon. Lady says, but I cannot arrange a debate for next week.

Mr. Hector Hughes

May I congratulate the Leader of the House upon the anniversary of his birthday and ask whether he will find time in the coming week for a debate upon the industrial progress of North-East Scotland and the need for better facilities for its extension?

Mr. Peart

I thank my hon. and learned Friend for his expression of good wishes for—I was about to say " not next week ", but it is today. I regret that I cannot provide time for a debate on this subject next week.

Mr. Lubbock

Further to the question asked by the right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter), does the Leader of the House recall that it is well over a year since the Select Committe on Science and Technology submitted a weighty and carefully argued report on defence research, which is still awaiting debate? Does he recall also that during business questions for the last three weeks he has been asked to find time for a debate on the Report of the Select Committee on Members' Interests (Declaration), a very important subject which should be resolved during this Session?

Mr. Speaker

Order. Just one business question from one hon. Member.

Mr. Lubbock

Will the Leader of the House bear in mind that hon. Members will not be prepared to serve on Select Committees if their recommendations are ignored for so long?

Mr. Peart

The hon. Member must be aware of the pressure on parliamentary time. I wish that I could have more time. I have decided for this week that we shall have a debate on a very important report affecting the courts. I was pressed continually by hon. Members for such a debate, and I have conceded one. I am aware of the importance of the matter to which the hon. Gentleman refers and I take note of his request.

Mr. Prentice

May we have an early debate on the proposals for drastic increases in London Transport fares, which were announced this morning but which were carefully concealed from Londoners by the Conservative leadership during the recent G.L.C. elections?

Mr. Peart

I am aware of the announcement. I note what my right hon. Friend has said, as no doubt other people in London will. But I cannot find time for such a debate next week.

Mr. Lane

Can we expect next week an assurance from the Secretary of State for Education and Science that the Government do not intend to put at risk the other good proposals in the Education (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill by trying to reinsert in the Bill the ill-judged and controversial provision which was deleted on Tuesday in another place?

Mr. Peart

The Bill has not yet finished its stages in another place, so it would be premature to announce an attitude at this stage.

Mr. Michael Foot

Reverting to the question asked by the right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd Carpenter) about Cambodia, I underline to my right hon. Friend the extreme urgency of this matter. May we have a statement in the House—perhaps tomorrow—because what appears to be occurring in the United States is that the decision of President Nixon is strongly opposed by weighty opinion and prominent Senators? May we have a statement from Her Majesty's Government in time to influence this decision, which could be as disastrous as was the original decision to go into North Vietnam? May we have an urgent statement of our own Government's policy?

Mr. Peart

I know that this is an important matter. I fully understand the feelings of my hon. Friends. I cannot go beyond what I said in my earlier reply.

Mr. Newens

Is it not vital that the House should have the opportunity of pronouncing upon this very serious situation which has now been created. which may considerably extend the war in the whole of South-East Asia and result in enormous problems which the House will have to consider over many years? Should not hon. Members have an opportunity to make their views clear at an early stage?

Mr. Peart

My hon. Friend is asking not only for a statement, but—by inference—that there should be a debate. As I have already said, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary is watching developments and will, if necessary, make a statement on Monday.

Mr. Amery

Since the right hon. Gentleman said that he understood the feelings of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot), would he also please understand my feelings, that it seems to me only natural that the Americans should respond to what has been a Communist invasion of Cambodia —

Mr. Speaker

Order. We cannot debate subjects at Business Question time.

Mr. Peart

I am aware of the views of the right hon. Member, and of many other hon. Members. There are differences of opinion on this matter, but I cannot go beyond what I said earlier about a statement.

Mr. Philip Noel-Baker

While it is evident that the gravity of the situation in South-East Asia would fully justify a debate next week, may we at least urge on the Leader of the House that, in view of the grave doubts about what has been done in Cambodia by the United States Central Intelligence Agency, we shall have a statement from the Foreign Secretary as soon as possible and whenever necessary?

Mr. Peart

Yes, I give that assurance.

Mr. Rose

In view of the allegation that the Evening Standard Lobby Correspondent was dismissed after receiving £500 from an hon. Member of the House, provided by a foreign Government, does it not make it even more important that we should now discuss this question of Members' interests, and particularly the interests of Members who accept bribes and money from foreign Governments to put over their policies in this House?

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member is referring to a sub judice case. He was very wrong to do so.

Mr. Rose

With great respect, Mr. Speaker, there is no question of sub judice in this case.

Mr. Speaker

I am grateful.

Mr. Winnick

On a point of order. With due respect to my hon. Friend, should we debate a matter concerning a journalist who cannot defend himself in this House? Would it not have been far better for my hon. Friend not put this question?

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member for Croydon, South (Mr. Winnick) has put his own business question. He must n x deprive other hon. Members of the right to put their business questions. One proviso which the House makes is that we do not ask questions about any case which is sub judice.