HC Deb 07 May 1970 vol 801 cc585-9
Mr. Maudling

Would the Leader of the House kindly 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, 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.

Lords Amendments to the Films Bill.

Second Reading of the Tonga Bill [Lords.]

TUESDAY, 12TH MAY and WEDNESDAY, 13TH MAY—Progress with the Committee stage of the Finance Bill.

THURSDAY, 14TH MAY—Second Reading of the Hare Coursing Bill.

Remaining stages of the Administration of Justice Bill [Lords].

Motion on the Legal Aid (Extension of Proceedings) Regulations.

Remaining stages of the Tonga Bill [Lords.]

FRIDAY, 15TH MAY—Private Members' Bills.

At 4.30 p.m., the House will rise for the Whitsun Adjournment until Monday, 1st June.

MONDAY, 1ST JUNE—Second Reading of the Industrial Relations Bill.

Mr. Maudling

The right hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I ask a question about the decision of the House on the Administration of Justice Bill. Is it the Government's intention to bow to the will of the House or otherwise?

Mr. Peart

In view of the decision of the House, I feel that it would be wrong to suggest that the decision should be reversed.

Hon. Members

Hear, hear.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

Would my right hon. Friend find time next week for a debate on a very important matter, in view of what would appear to be the bias of the Law Officers of the Crown in prosecuting one hon. Member and refusing—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman must not refer to anything which is sub judice. He is all right so far.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

I was asking whether, in view of the fact that there is no prosecution of the right hon. Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Hugh Fraser), who has asked to be prosecuted, we may have a debate on the Official Secrets Acts, particularly regarding the right hon. Member's position.

Mr. Peart

Not next week.

Mr. Turton

Does the right hon. Gentleman remember that he has promised a second day on the Report of the Select Committee on Procedure about expenditure? Since then, there have been two special reports dealing with Question Time and Ten-Minute Rule Bills. It would be convenient if the House could express its opinion soon.

Mr. Peart

I accept this, and will consider it sympathetically.

Mr. Dickens

In view of certain information revealed during the recent trial and acquittal of Mr. William Owen, would my right hon. Friend make a statement in the House next week giving the Government's proposals on what steps they have in mind regarding early improvements to Members' salaries, the declaration of Members' outside interests, the question of Members' services and the security available for Members of Parliament?

Mr. Peart

I believe that there is a Question down to me about security. On the other matters—not next week.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

What has happened to the draft Order of the Secretary of State for Social Services to introduce a means test into national insurance, which, the right hon. Gentleman will recall, was announced as long ago as mid-December and has been awaiting approval for many weeks? Has it been postponed until after the General Election?

Mr. Peart

I cannot pronounce precisely on that. I will look into it. If the right hon. Gentleman feels strongly about it, I will convey his views to my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Lipton

In view of growing doubts about the advisability of the Springboks' cricket tour, would my right hon. Friend have another look at Motion No. 150, which I put down on the Order Paper as long ago as 23rd February, asking that at least the Test Match should not be played at the Oval?

[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.]

Mr. Peart

I am aware of that Motion. I understand the sentiments of many hon. Members on this matter, but it cannot be debated next week.

Mr. Lubbock

Has the right hon. Gentleman had time to study the evidence which I have sent him about the number of reports of Select Committees which have been submitted to the House since the Session 1967–68, and the very small number of those which have actually been debated on the Floor of the House? Does the right hon. Gentleman not think that this analysis shows that far too little attention has been paid by the House of Commons to the reports of important Select Committees, which the House itself had set up, including, in particular, the Specialist Committees established by the last Leader of the House?

Mr. Peart

And some new Select Committees set up by myself.

The hon. Gentleman was kind enough to give me notice that he would raise this matter. He sent me some material and statistics. I hope that he will appreciate that time is limited. Every report which is published cannot possibly be debated. We have to decide priorities. I hope that the hon. Gentleman understands that. I do my best. Indeed, a report is being debated today.

Mr. Rose

Following that question, in particular, would my right hon. Friend consider an early debate on the Report of the Select Committee on Members' Interests (Declaration)?

May I correct a statement last week in connection with what I referred to as the Lobby Correspondent of the Evening Standard? I should have referred to "a former employee" of the Evening Standard, who is not the Lobby Correspondent of the Evening Standard.

Mr. Peart

The matter raised by my hon. Friend is one which affects the House. I will certainly note it.

Mr. Grimond

In view of what happened at Question Time, would the right hon. Gentleman find time for a fuller discussion on the proposal for a broadcasting council?

Mr. Peart

I will consider that. The right hon. Gentleman will appreciate that his hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock) presses me for time on other matters. I have to judge priorities.

Sir H. Legge-Bourke

May I follow up a question which I put to the right hon. Gentleman before we rose for Easter? He may recall that the Government have not yet published a White Paper commenting on the third Report of the Select Committee on Science and Technology dealing with the Natural Environment Research Council. In view of the increasing interest in this, and since the report was published in October last year, may we have an assurance that we will have a White Paper from the Government on this matter next week?

Mr. Peart

I connot give that assurance. I am sympathetic to the point that has been raised. I have made representations, but I cannot promise a debate next week.

Mr. Philip Noel-Baker

Reverting to the question of the South African tour, will the Leader of the House consider, in view of the very grave dangers, explained in the letter to The Times by the Bishop of Stepney last week, that we ought to have a short debate on this matter next week?

Mr. Peart

I am aware of the strong feelings about this and, naturally, give it my attention. I will look into it, but I cannot promise a debate.

Mr. David Howell

Further to the question put by my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton), can the right hon. Gentleman say what stage his thoughts and discussions have reached on the new system of expenditure committees proposed by the Select Committee on Procedure?

Mr. Pearl

I cannot add to what I have said earlier. I thought that I gave a sympathetic reply then.

Mr. Blaker

Is it not time that we had a debate on the reports of the Parliamentary Commissioner? Is there any point in having a Parliamentary Commissioner when we never debate his reports?

Mr. Pearl

The hon. Gentleman must not assume that every report which appears has to be debated. He must appreciate that the business of the House as a whole has to be considered.

Mr. Russell Kerr

In view of the reported collapse of the financial discussions among the various independent operators concerned, may we expect, next week if possible, a statement from the President of the Board of Trade confirming the B.U.A.-B.O.A.C. merger?

Mr. Peart

I will convey the point to my right hon. Friend. I am aware of my hon. Friend's interest and concern. I cannot go beyond that.

Several Hon. Members rose

Mr. Speaker

Order. The Paymaster-General, statement.