§ The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Robert Carr)
As the House may know, the business for the 18th Supply Day on Thursday of this week has been changed, at the request of the Opposition, as follows:
Until about Seven o'clock, there will be a debate on rising land and house prices, and thereafter on the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. Both debates will arise on a Motion for the Adjournment of the House.
Mr. Speaker, it may help the House if I announce now that on Monday, 1st May, when there are Private Members' Motions until seven o'clock, the debate on the Motion to be raised by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke), on the Vehicle and General Company Limited (Tribunal Report), will be continued until ten o'clock.
§ Mr. David Steel
Will the right hon. Gentleman accept that short notice changes in the business of the House ought to be kept to a minimum? Will he explain why the UNCTAD debate has been retimed for Thursday? Is he aware that this is a matter of the convenience 1544 not just of hon. Members but of members of the public who have a specialist interest in the matter and make arrangements to come here?
§ Mr. Michael Foot
We appreciate the changes which the right hon. Gentleman has made following our representations. We thought it necessary to have an urgent debate on land prices, but that did not in any sense mean any derogation of the importance that we attach to the other subjects, or to the subject of Bangladesh, which happens to have been the subject of an announcement by the Foreign Secretary. That is why we thought it better to make this rearrangement. We are grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for the change that he has made in Monday's business, which we think accords with the requirements of the House on a report of this significance
§ Dame Irene Ward
We are not going to consider the Museums and Galleries Admission Charges Bill after the extension of the debate on Monday, are we?
§ Sir Bernard Braine
While not questioning the decision to change the business for tomorrow, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether, in the light of what was said a moment ago, any indications have been given that the important subject of Bangladesh, the British contribution to relief in that country and the present problems there, is likely to be debated at an early stage? Can any indication be given that that will be done?
§ Mr. Carr
On Monday my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary announced to the House the decision to provide a substantial increase in the already large amount of aid which this country is giving to Bangladesh. I can only repeat that on an Opposition Supply Day it is, as my hon. Friend and the House know, the right of the Opposition to nominate the subjects which they wish debated.
§ Mr. Michael Foot
In view of the right hon. Gentleman's comment, and also that 1545 of his hon. Friend, may I tell the House that we do not wish by our choice of subjects to suggest that we should not have a further debate on Bangladesh at some stage. The Opposition, like everyone else, have to make a difficult selection of the time of the House to deal with the most important and urgent questions. We are eager that the Government should provide a time to debate many of these matters. Indeed, we have made a constructive suggestion to the Government about how more time could be made available for discussing the subjects which so many hon. Members raise on Thursdays. I hope that our representations to the Government about the appalling blockage of the time of the House with superfluous legislation will be taken note of.