HC Deb 26 February 1970 vol 796 cc1399-405
Mr. Heath

May I ask the Leader of the House whether he will state the business 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, 2ND MARCH—Second Reading of the Employed Persons (Health and Safety) Bill.

Remaining stages of the Films Bill.

TUESDAY, 3RD MARCH—Second Reading of the Fishing Vessels (Safety Provisions) Bill.

Motions on the Rate Support Grant (Increase) (Scotland) Order and on the National Insurance (Colliery Workers Supplementary Scheme) Order.

WEDNESDAY, 4TH MARCH—Debate on a Motion to approve the Statement on Defence, (Command No. 4290).

Motions on the Wool Textile Industry Levy Orders.

THURSDAY, 5TH MARcH—Conclusion of the debate on Defence.

FRIDAY, 6TH MARCH—Private Members' Motions.

MONDAY, 9TH MARCH—Supply [15th Allotted Day]: Civil Supplementary Estimates.

Debate on a topic to be announced.

Mr. Heath

All hon. Members will agree that the situation in the Middle East has made a debate more urgent. Can the right hon. Gentleman arrange for us to have one as soon as possible, certainly before we rise for the Easter Recess?

Mr. Peart

I have been pressed before on this matter. I am finding it difficult to arrange time before Easter, but I will look into the matter.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

On the defence debate, could the Leader of the House arrange for the chairman of the Horse-Race Betting Levy Board's excellent article on defence to be published, in view of the State appointment which he holds as a White Paper or circulated in some other form, so that we can all have it?

Mr. Peart

Not next week.

Sir Harry Legge-Bourke

Does the right hon. Gentleman recollect that there is a Report on Defence Research and a Government White Paper on that Report from the Select Committee on Science and Technology which the House has not been able to debate, and that the White Paper on Defence merely makes passing reference to it and nothing more? May we be assured that, apart from that debate, there will be a second debate on the Select Committee's Report and that it will not be swamped in the general defence debate?

Mr. Peart

I cannot promise that, but the hon. Member should be able to intervene in next week's debate and stress the points which he has raised.

Mr. Palmer

May I press my right hon. Friend to incorporate special provision for a discussion of the Report of the Select Committee on Science and Technology on Defence Research in the debate which we are to have on defence?

Mr. Peart

This could be raised, as I told the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke).

Mr. W. H. K. Baker rose——

Mr. Blaker rose——

Mr. Speaker

Mr. Baker. [Interruption.] Order. I was not being discourteous to the hon. Member. Someone thought that I said, "Mr. Blaker".

Mr. Baker

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us when the Minimum Prices Scheme for the White Fish Authority will come before the House? It is of urgent necessity in view of the levy which is being imposed for advertising purposes.

Mr. Peart

I will convey the hon. Member's view to the Minister of Agriculture. I cannot give a specific date.

Mr. Raymond Fletcher

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that two days is rather too long for a debate on defence, considering that at least a third of our defence problems arise from the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean? Does this not further support urgently the demand of the Leader of the Opposition for a debate on the Middle East?

Mr. Peart

I said that I would look into the other matter of a special debate on the Middle East, but I should have thought that two days was reasonable for a debate on defence.

Sir F. Bennett

Last week, the right hon. Gentleman courteously said that he would do his best to arrange for a statement on what is going on in regard to the Maltese negotiations. Since then, I gather from an Answer to a Question on the Order Paper, it has been said that even British forces in Malta now know more than hon. Members at Westminster. Would the right hon. Gentleman have another try, with better hopes of success for next week?

Mr. Peart

I will consider this, of course.

Mr. William Hamilton

Will my right hon. Friend undertake to provide time for a very short debate some time on the Report by the Select Committee on Procedure in 1958–59 concerning the preferential treatment given to Privy Councillors in debates of major importance?

Mr. Peart

I cannot give that promise.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when the Prayer which is now on the Order Paper in the names of some of his hon. Friends to annul the Minister of Housing's Order transferring housing estates from the Greater London Council to the London boroughs will be debated and, when it is debated, whether the Government Whips will be on for or against the Minister's Order?

Mr. Peart

I cannot announce anything at this stage. The question of whipping is for my right hon. Friend the Patronage Secretary.

Mr. John Mendelson

Has my right hon. Friend noticed the growing support for the setting up of a Royal Commission or a public independent committee into the question of the immediate fears for the future of the B.B.C.? Has he noticed that so many of the staff of the B.B.C. and people in all walks of life are seriously disturbed that the Minister responsible did not give us the fullest information at the time of the last debate? Would he therefore provide for a short three-hour debate on this subject before Easter?

Mr. Peart

No, I cannot promise that.

Dr. Winstanley

Is it not time that we had the opportunity of debating the activities of the Parliamentary Commissioners for Administration? Since his annual report was published this week, would it not be opportune to have a debate on it and on other reports which have been presented to the House—perhaps next week?

Mr. Peart

Not next week.

Mr. R. C. Mitchell

Would my right hon. Friend declare a two-day holiday for all Privy Councillors next Wednesday and Thursday, so that a few back benchers can get into the defence debate?

Mr. Blaker

May I remind the right hon. Gentleman once again of the Report of the Select Committee on the Parliamentary Commissioner in relation to the affair of the Duccio painting? Will he arrange for his right hon. Friend to make a statement, as recommended by that report?

Mr. Peart

I will have a word with my right hon. Friend. If it is necessary, he will make a statement.

Mr. Winnick

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is considerable concern over the latest Government policy on CS gas? Will we be having a statement from the Foreign Secretary in the near future? We should, of course, have a debate.

Mr. Peart

A Question is now on the Order Paper on this matter.

Mr. Lipton

Has my right hon. Friend seen Motion No. 150?

[That this House calls upon the Secretary of State for the Home Department to arrange with the authorities concerned that the South African Cricket XI 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 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 the 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.]

Apart from saying, "Not next week", what will he do about it?

Mr. Peart

I have noted that Motion, dealing with the South African Cricket XI. Certainly not next week.

Mr. R. Carr

Would the right hon. Gentleman arrange for his right hon. Friend the First Secretary or, if he were better placed or if it were necessary, the Prime Minister, to make a statement about the Government's decisions not to refer the I.P.C.-Reed merger to the Monopolies Commission but to refer the Burmah-Laporte one? Does he realise that this inconsistency of principle raises very serious issues of public policy?

Mr. Peart

I know that this is a very important matter, which the right hon. Gentleman has rightly raised. I will make representations on it to my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

On a point of order. Is my right hon. Friend aware that it would be out of order, because there is a Question on the Order Paper on that subject?

Mr. James Johnson

In view of the successful debate on the work of the Arts Council, when can my right hon. Friend find time, if only half a day, for a debate on the work of the Sports Council, particularly in view of their fine work and even more particularly since this is World Cup year for soccer?

Mr. Peart

I am aware of the fine work of the Sports Council. I appreciate my hon. Friend's interest in these maters, but I cannot find time for a debate.

Mr. Shinwell

Has my right hon. Friend seen a report by eminent members of the medical profession that Labour Members of Parliament suffer from heart trouble? May we have a debate on that subject?

Mr. Peart

Yes, I read that report, but it does not seem to have affected my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Maclennan

When will my right hon. Friend table the Government's proposals on the most important question of the Ten-Minute Rule Bills, reported on by the Select Committee on Procedure?

Mr. Peart

Very soon.


Sir H. Legge-Bourke

On a point of order. It will be in your recollection, Mr. Speaker, and that of the House, that, in answer to Business questions from both the hon. Member for Bristol, Central (Mr. Palmer) and myself, the Leader of the House said that he thought that the White Paper on Defence and the Report of the Select Committee on Science and Technology, dealing with defence research, might well be covered during the course of the general debate on defence.

May I submit to you that the ordinary custom is that the debate on defence is closely related to the Defence White Paper and the Estimates and that it will be a new procedure if we are the same time to take a Report of a Select Committee and the Government's comments on that? If will be obvious that both those who want to speak on the main Defence White Paper and those who wish to speak on the Select Committee's Report will suffer some difficulty if the two are made into one.

What I am asking you particularly to bear in mind, Sir, if you would be so kind, is whether it will be in order for the defence debate to take these two things together, because that will be the first time it has ever been done?

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman knows that I could not rule as to what will be in order in the defence debate until I have seen the Order Paper. I will certainly look at the problem. I will not, however, rule on it now.