HC Deb 26 March 1970 vol 798 cc1652-6
Mr. Heath

Will the Leader of the House please state the business of the House for the week after the Recess?

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

Yes, Sir. The business for after Easter will be as follows:

MONDAY, 6TH APRIL—Second Reading of the Electricity Bill.

Motion under Standing Order No. 43A relating to the Ports Bill.

TUESDAY, 7TH APRIL—Completion of the remaining stages of the Agriculture Bill.

WEDNESDAY, 8TH APRIL—Second Reading of the Commission for Industry and Manpower Bill.

Motion on the White Fish Authority (Minimum Prices) (Scotland and Northern Ireland) Scheme.

THURSDAY, 9TH APRIL—Second Reading of the Coal Industry Bill.

FRIDAY, 10TH APRIL.—Private Members' Bills.

MONDAY, 13TH APRIL.—A debate on the Middle East, which will arise on a Motion for the Adjournment of the House.

As already announced, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will open his Budget on Tuesday 14th April.

The general debate on the Budget Resolutions and the Economic Situation will be continued on Wednesday and Thursday and brought to a conclusion on Monday, 20th April.

Mr. Heath

With reference to the Motion on the Ports Bill, as the Standing Committee has now covered 50 Clauses and only 11 remain, is not it ludicrous for the Leader of the House to introduce a Guillotine on the Bill? What has got the Government so jittery at this stage?

Mr. Peart

My right hon. Friend the Minister is anxious to make sensible progress. It is true that some progress has been made, but he feels that a guillotine Motion in Committee would lead to a more orderly debate and conclusion.

Mr. Heath

Is that a polite way of saying that the right hon. Gentleman has just given way to shouts from the dockers?

Mr. Peart

No, it does not mean that. In no circumstances are we intimidated by any section outside the House.

Mr. Heffer

Will my right hon. Friend say when the Bill on the abolition of live hare coursing will be introduced?

Mr. Peart

No, I cannot say.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

At what hour does the right hon. Gentleman intend to enter a guillotine Motion on the Ports Bill, and how long does he propose to provide for discussion of that Motion?

Mr. Peart

The Motion will come on at 10 o'clock and, under the Standing Order, two hours will be allowed for debate.

Mr. Raphael Tuck

As, last night, 3,000 workers were sacked from Odhams, of Watford, after an industrial dispute lasting for some time, can my right hon. Friend give time in the near future for a debate on the situation there?

Mr. Peart

I know that my hon. Friend is interested in this matter, quite rightly, but, I cannot find the time for a debate.

Mr. Kirk

Will the right hon. Gentleman ask his right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary whether, when we come back after the Recess, he will make a statement about the progress of relief operations in Nigeria? It is difficult to get information on progress, as the Press are not allowed into the country.

Mr. Peart

My right hon. Friend, who is here, will note that, and I will also have a discussion with him.

Mr. Lipton

My right hon. Friend has no doubt taken note of Motion No. 210, relating to the right hon. Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Hugh Fraser) and the Official Secrets Act, 1911.

[That this House calls upon Mr. Attorney-General to indicate what action he proposes to take following the publication in "The Times" newspaper on 19th March of a letter from the right hon. Member for Stafford and Stone relating to the use of Section 2 of the Official Secrets Act 1911.]

Has my right hon. Friend brought the Motion to the attention of the Attorney-General and, if so, may we expect a statement in the near future?

Mr. Peart

As my hon. Friend must be aware, this matter is now sub judice, so it would be improper for me to say any more at this stage.

Mr. Berry

Is not it extraordinary that there is to be a guillotine Motion on the Ports Bill when we come back after the Recess, when 50 Clauses out of 61 have been dealt with? Would not the time be better spent doing something about the very old, whom the Government have so disgracefully neglected?

Mr. Peart I cannot add to what I have already said about this. Other Governments have used the Guillotine in this way.

Mr. William Hamilton

May I ask my right hon. Friend when he will introduce the Orders or Regulations concerning Ten-Minute Rule Bills in accordance with the recommendations of the Select Committee on Procedure?

Mr. Peart

We shall have to have a debate on this, probably immediately after we come back.

Sir D. Renton

Why, during the week when we come back after Easter, are we not to have a debate on the Beeching Report on the courts, or on the Law Commission's report on the interpretation of Statutes, as to both of which matters the right hon. Gentleman, in answer to Questions from both sides of the House, has shown sympathy? When will debates on those reports take place?

Mr. Peart

I have sympathy about this matter, but I cannot find time during the week after the Recess. The business which I have announced shows a very full programme of activity, and for this reason I am unable to find time.

Mr. Arthur Davidson

Now that the Government have announced their decision to go ahead with the building of the new town in central Lancashire, will my right hon. Friend find time, as soon as possible, for a debate on this subject, which is of considerable interest in North-East Lancashire?

Mr. Peart

I note the point made by my hon. Friend.

Dr. Winstanley

May I remind the Leader of the House that, apart from the brief and rather premature discussion on the Sachsenhausen matter, the House has not yet debated any reports of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration, some of which call for Government or Ministerial action? May we have a debate about the Parliamentary Commissioner fairly soon?

Mr. Peart

I cannot give a specific promise, but I will note what the hon. Member has said. There are many reports from various Committees, and it is a matter of deciding priorities.

Mr. Peyton

Whilst I welcome the fact that proceedings have not been issued against my right hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Hugh Fraser), does not the Leader of the House think that the Attorney-General would welcome the oportunity of making a statement during the week when we return to clear up some doubts? It appears that some selectivity characterises proceedings under the Official Secrets Act.

Mr. Peart

I cannot add to what have said to my hon. Friend the Member for Brixton (Mr. Lipton). A case is proceeding.

Sir H. Legge-Bourke

In view of the increasing public concern about environmental problems, will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that we have not yet had the Government's comments on the report published six months ago by the Select Committee on Science and Technology on the work of the Natural Environment Research Council? Are not the Government's comments getting very late in coming? May we have an opportunity of discussing the matter as soon as possible?

Mr. Peart

I will note what the hon. Gentleman says—not just because this is a matter of special interest to him but because it is important. I shall have a talk with my right hon. Friend about it.

Mr. Edward M. Taylor

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Schedules remaining to be discussed on the Ports Bill, relating to the position of the National Ports Authority and the port boards, are regarded as of crucial importance by the trade unions in the docks and by all those connected with the docks? Will he ensure that the guillotine Motion will at least provide sufficient time for these important Schedules to be discussed?

Mr. Peart

I shall note what has been said. We shall have to wait for the Business Committee's report before seeing how we are to proceed.

Mr. Tom Boardman

Will not the right hon. Gentleman give further consideration to the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton)? It is a most unsatisfactory state of affairs that this—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member may ask for a statement or for a debate. He must however, be careful what he says in this difficult position.

Mr. Boardman

Yes, Mr. Speaker. Does not the Minister agree that it is a most unsatisfactory state of affairs that this doubt should remain in people's minds about the selectivity that appears to have been applied in this case?

Mr. Peart

I cannot add to what I have already said in reply. The matter is now sub judice.

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