HC Deb 12 March 1970 vol 797 cc1570-5
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, 16TH MARCH—Supply [18th Allotted Day]:

Air Estimates 1970–71, Vote A.

Remaining stages of the Building (Scotland) Bill. Motion on the Rating of Livestock Buildings (Scotland) Order.

TUESDAY, 17TH MARCH—Supply [19th Allotted Day]:

Defence Vote on Account.

I understand that it may be convenient to have a short debate on Procurement, followed by separate debates on the Navy, the Army and the Air Force.

Motions on the Betterment Levy Regulations, the Material Development (Amendment) Regulations, the Case F General (Amendment) Regulations, and the Betterment Levy (Planning Assumptions) (Amendment) Regulations.

WEDNESDAY, 18TH MARCH—Supply [20th Allotted Day]:

It will be proposed that the Questions on spring Supply will be taken formally to allow debate on an Opposition Motion on Civil Air Transport.

Motion on the London Authorities (Transfer of Housing Estates, etc.) Order.

Motions on the Collegiate Churches and Sharing of Church Buildings Measures.

THURSDAY, 19TH MARCH—Second Reading of the Consolidated Fund (No. 2) Bill.

At seven o'clock, the Chairman of Ways and Means has named opposed Private Business for consideration.

FRIDAY, 20TH MARCH—Private Members' Bills.

MONDAY, 23RD MARCH—Remaining stages of the Consolidated Fund (No. 2) Bill.

Debate on a Motion to take note of the Green Paper on the Future Structure of the National Health Service.

Remaining stages of the Export Guarantees and Payments Bill.

Motion on the Docks and Harbours (Valuation) Order.

Mr. Speaker

Perhaps it will help hon. Members if I remind them that for the debate on Thursday on the Second Reading of the Consolidated Fund (No. 2) Bill they may hand in to my office their names and the topics they wish to raise by 9.30 on Wednesday morning.

The Ballot will be, as last time, for name plus topic, not just name, and any hon. Member may hand in only his name and his own topic. I will put out the results of the Ballot later on Wednesday.

Mr. Heath

May I ask the Leader of the House two questions? First, the Second Reading of the Consolidated Fund (No. 2) Bill is to be interrupted by the business set down by the Chairman of Ways and Means, which will obviously take a number of hours of back-benchers' time that would otherwise be devoted to the discussion of individual matters. Can he give us an assurance that the Government will take account of this during the day?

Second, will the right hon. Gentleman be able to arrange for a debate on the Middle East before the House rises? If that is not possible, can he give an assurance that we shall have it directly we come back after the Recess?

Mr. Peart

On the right hon. Gentleman's first question, I give him the assurance that we take note of the position. I cannot give time for a debate on the Middle East before the Easter Recess, but I promise a debate immediately we come back.

Mr. Winnick

Shall we be able to have a statement next week on the closing of the various foreign consulates in Salisbury, Rhodesia? Apart from anything else, it would give the Leader of the Opposition the opportunity to deny the very serious allegations about his party in The Guardian yesterday?

Mr. Peart

I shall represent my hon. Friend's views to my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, and I take note of them.

Mr. Lubbock

If, as I suspect, the Tories will table a censure Motion for next Wednesday dealing with the Government's conduct vis-à-vis British United Airways, what chance will the rest of us have to discuss the wider issues of civil air transport arising out of the Edwards Report and the White Paper?

Mr. Peart

The choice of speakers is one for Mr. Speaker. The hon. Gentleman must take his chance.

Mr. Michael Foot

When will my right hon. Friend make provision for a debate on the Report of the Committee of Privileges, which was published yesterday, since the Report raises considerable questions of principle and he is under an obligation to bring forward proposals for altering the whole law of privilege as Parliament applies it?

Mr. Peart

There is another matter affecting privilege which is still under discussion. I note my hon. Friend's views and hope that at a later period we shall have a debate on privilege. I promise that to the House.

Mr. Ramsden

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware, in connection with the new procedure on Tuesday on the Defence Vote on Account, that if it is his intention to follow the Select Committee's recommendations and to put down the nine Votes separately and let the Opposition choose the order, this will be well received, but that if he intends to move only one Motion this will be rather less well received?

Mr. Peart

I thought that the proposal was in line with the Select Committee's recommendation. The right hon. Gentleman has informed me of his views. Perhaps we can have a discussion through the usual channels about this.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins

In the aviation debate next week would it be in order, in my right hon. Friend's view, to discuss the disquiet felt at London Airport about the British Airports Authority and the allegations which are widespread among those who work under the Authority that the B.A.A. is in need of investigation?

Mr. Peart

I cannot control my hon. Friend's speech. It will be a matter for him and Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Iremonger

In view of the state of the universities when does the Leader of the House propose to find time to debate Motion No. 168?

[That this House, having regard to the manifestly chaotic and degrading state of higher education in general and the universities in particular, calls upon Her Majesty's Government to appoint a Royal Commission to make recommendations for the reorganisation of higher education on a basis that will clearly establish the relationship in law between, and the respective rights and duties of, graduates, undergraduates, education authorities and staff', and Her Majesty's Government, with special reference to voting procedures in students' unions, and on a basis that will secure that degree of order which is the essential prerequisite of freedom.]

Will the right hon. Gentleman amplify somewhat what he said to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition about the interruption of the debate on Second Reading of the Consolidated Fund (No. 2) Bill? Are we really to have private Members' time interfered with in this way by Private Business by his arrangement?

Mr. Peart

I said that I would take into account the interruption. I cannot find time next week for a debate on the Motion. I have noted it.

Miss Devlin

In view of the almost imminent departure of Major Chichester-Clark as Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, may we be given an early date for a debate on Northern Ireland?

Mr. Peart

Not before Easter, and certainly not next week.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

As the time needed for the London Estates Order on Wednesday will be very much affected by whether or not the Minister intends to support his own Order, can the right hon. Gentleman now enlighten us? Will he take it that if the Minister were not to support his own Order it would be intolerable to limit the debate to the mere ordinary 1½ hours on a Statutory Instrument?

Mr. Peart

The right hon. Gentleman should await the Minister's making his view known in the debate.

Mr. Jopling

Is it still the Government's intention to introduce a new Bill next week on the eradication of brucellosis, as a new Clause was added to the Agriculture Bill this morning on this matter, instigated by this side of the House?

Mr. Peart

I cannot comment on what happened in the Committee. It has not reported to the House yet. The hon. Gentleman knows the rules.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Will the right hon. Gentleman clarify the situation concerning Tuesday of next week? He will recall that the Select Committee, when it recommended the change of procedure, said that there would be no derogation of back benchers' privileges of speaking. Will back benchers be able to take part in more than one of the debates on the various Votes on Tuesday?

Mr. Peart

I understand that they can speak on anything concerning defence, but in view of the representations made to me already today I am prepared to have a look at this matter.

Mr. Russell Kerr

In view of the incipient mass stoppage at London Airport and the booking of the Brentford Football Club's stadium for next Monday morning for a mass rally of the workers affected, will my right hon. Friend find time for an emergency debate on a situation which could well escalate into a total stoppage of the civil aviation industry of the country?

Mr. Peart

I cannot promise a debate on that. My right hon. Friend the First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity would make a statement to the House if necessary, as she is always prepared to do on industrial disputes.

Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

In relation to Monday and Tuesday's business next week, is the Leader of the House aware that for 50 weeks in the year we never discuss defence and then for two weeks we have no fewer than six days—rather like the elk-shooting season, concentrated into a fortnight? Would he consider asking the Select Committee on Procedure to consider a way by which those debates might be dispersed more widely over the parliamentary year?

Mr. Peart

The Select Committee on Procedure can, if it wishes, consider the matter. If it is the wish of the House, I will ask the Committee to look into it.

Mr. Blaker

May I remind the Leader of the House for the fourth time of the Report of the Select Committee on the Parliamentary Commissioner in relation to the affair of the Duccio painting, which recommended that a further statement should be made by the Minister concerned? If the Government are to ignore the recommendations of Select Committees, what is the point of having them?

Mr. Peart

I do not like to say "No", or "Not next week". But though I admire the persistence of the hon. Gentleman, not next week.

Mr. John Page

Will the Leader of the House tell us when the Bill to introduce the Commission of Industry and Manpower may be expected? Is he aware that, if it is to be published at any time between now and Easter, there would not be sufficient time to have a debate before Easter, because it will be a long and complicated Bill and there must be plenty of time for consultation?

Mr. Peart

This is a reasonable point and I shall note it carefully.

Mr. Marten

On the question of next Thursday's business—the Consolidated Fund (No. 2) Bill—the Leader of the House did say that he would take account of the interruption of the business. For how long can it run into Friday morning? Is there any danger that Private Members' Bills may not be reached?

Mr. Peart

It can, of course, run right through the night and for a long period of the morning.

Mr. Onslow

As there is growing evidence that a small group of politically-motivated men are plotting to bring London Airport to a standstill, can the Leader of the House tell us whether it is possible—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member must put his Business question, and not make a political point.

Mr. Onslow

Is it possible for the Leader of the House to request the Select Committee on Nationalised Industries to look into the matter?

Mr. Peart

That is not a matter for next week's business.