HC Deb 09 August 1972 vol 842 cc1733-8
The Secretary of State for the Home Department, Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Robert Carr)

The business for the first week after the Summer Adjournment will be:

TUESDAY, 17TH OCTOBER—Debate on a Motion for the adjournment of the House on a subject of the Opposition's choice.

Consideration of Opposed Private Business which has been named by the Chairman of Ways and Means.

WEDNESDAY, 18TH OcToBER—Remaining stages of the Museums and Galleries Admission Charges Bill [Lords].

Amendments to Bills which may be received from another place.

THURSDAY, 19TH OCTOBER—Debate on a Motion inviting the House to approve an experiment in broadcasting the proceedings of the House.

FRIDAY, 20TH OCTOBER—Motions on Orders and Prayers, to be announced.

Mr. Speaker, the House will wish to know that preparations are proceeding on the basis of the new Session being opened on Tuesday, 31st October, 1972.

Mr. Orme

Is the Leader of the House able to say anything about the developments on the dock strike and the continuing negotiations of the Jones-Aldington Committee, about which there is a great deal of Press speculation?

Mr. Carr

I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has asked this question because I was in personal contact with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment shortly before coming into the House. He asked me to tell the House, if this question was asked, as he expected it would be, that he feels the negotiations are at a delicate stage. As the House will know, the Jones-Aldington Committee was adjourned at ten o'clock last night and reconvened this morning, and my right hon. Friend wishes to be available. He feels that there is nothing he can usefully say at the moment, and he asks me to explain that to the House and to say he is sorry, but he feels that this is the right judgment to make.

Mr. Edward Taylor

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there has been a great deal of speculation about a possible statement on investment grants for shipping? Is it likely that a statement will be made soon on this subject, as the delay is causing a hold-up of orders?

Mr. Carr

As I said yesterday in winding up one of the debates, my right hon. Friend is actively involved in this under the Industry Bill when it becomes an Act, and he is answering a question about it today.

Mr. Faulds

Sir, I had hoped that we should be celebrating the happy obsequies of the Museums and Galleries Admission Charges Bill. Since that is not to be so, will the right hon. Gentleman, as a suitable epitaph on the Government's dismal record, arrange to have as a permanent memorial turnstiles designed by Henry Moore?

Mr. Carr

We shall have to make sure that the turnstiles are designed in such a way that we shall be able to get in easily. The hon. Gentleman should look at the total amount of extra support which will be available for the arts, both nationally and regionally. The Government have nothing to be ashamed of.

Mr. McMaster

In view of the alarming events of the last few days in Northern Ireland, the shocking increase in terrorist activity, with the death and injury which has resulted and the political talks which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is having in Northern Ireland, is it possible for a statement to be made before the House rises? If not, what provision will be made for the House to be recalled should events in Northern Ireland further deteriorate before the House resumes in October?

Mr. Carr

There will be no statement today. As to the possibility of recalling the House, I made clear yesterday that, as is usual when the House adjourns for the recess, there are provisions for recall should the need arise, and the question of Northern Ireland will be borne in mind. I am a little surprised, after the actions of the last week or so, that my hon. Friend should regard the situation in Northern Ireland as one which is deteriorating. I do not believe that that is the right picture, and I should have thought that my hon. Friend would have given greater hope and support to my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Greville Janner

As the Government have said that nearly 80 per cent. of all applications for compensation for unfair dismissal which have reached the industrial tribunals have failed, and that not one applicant has reached the maximum figure, will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that there will be a debate at an early stage upon the shockingly bad way in which this part of the Industrial Relations Act is working in practice?

Mr. Carr

I cannot give an assurance about that at the moment. It is a matter about which I have had no warning. I will, of course, report the hon. and learned Gentleman's comments to my right hon. Friend. I should have thought that we might all have rejoiced in the fact that in a few months the provisions of the Act have given between 2,000 and 3,000 people an opportunity to redress their grievances, an opportunity which they did not have before. Opportunity can always be improved; there was none before but there is now.

Mr. Shore

In view of the anxieties about the docks, Northern Ireland and other matters, I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman has repeated that the usual arrangements for recalling the House, should it be necessary, will be put into effect.

I wish to put to the right hon. Gentleman two points on the business which he has announced for October. First, he will understand that we on this side of the House find no cause to welcome the news that the Museums and Galleries Admission Charges Bill is to reappear on the Floor of the House. Secondly, he has apparently not been able to persuade his colleagues to come forward with a statement on the Government's position on the consultations that have taken place with a view to a European summit meeting. On the assumption that the summit meeting is still to take place in October, will he make certain that we have either a full statement or a full debate before the meeting takes place?

Mr. Carr

I will take note of what the right hon. Gentleman said and will discuss it personally with my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis

On the question of the House discussing the broadcasting of parliamentary proceedings when we return after the Recess, in view of the need to arrange these matters in advance will he make representations to the authorities so that when the new Session begins we might begin by televising proceedings in another place to celebrate the notable completion of the Government programme and the fact that we are going into Europe?

Mr. Carr

That is an interesting suggestion, but I suspect that it would cause a great deal of controversy. I think we ought first to debate the matter on Thursday, 19th October.

Mr. William Hamilton

Could the right hon. Gentleman say what form the debate on broadcasting our proceedings will take? Will it be on a Government Motion or in some other form? Will he undertake to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to make a statement in the first week of our return about British citizens in Uganda since obviously in the intervening period various moves will have taken place on this question?

Mr. Carr

On the first question raised by the hon. Gentleman, I have no doubt that we may wish to have discussions about the matter, but my intention at present is that the Government should table a Motion inviting the House to approve an experiment in broadcasting, but I expect that there will be an entirely free vote on the matter. Presumably I shall be intervening in the debate to explain exactly what is and what is not possible and the form the experiment might take, but I shall in no way seek to impose a Government view on the House. There will undoubtedly and properly be a free vote of the House.

In regard to the Uganda Asians, my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary answered a Question on this subject a day or two ago. He is undertaking intense diplomatic activity to try to ward off the threatened inhumane treatment of these many thousands of Asians in Uganda, the majority of whom are perhaps United Kingdom passport holders but some are not. My right hon. Friend is initiating diplomatic activity on that front, and as a first step the British High Commissioner is seeing President Amin today. In addition, the Government are setting up a standing group of Ministers and officials to watch this matter from day to day to make sure that all action is taken to try to avert the terrible threat that is overhanging these people and to make what contingency plans might be necessary if, alas, President Amin does not yield to reason and our appeal.

Mr. Jennings

Assuming that we enter the Common Market on 1st January next, will it be possible for us to have a debate early in the new Session on the report which has just been issued by the Procedure Committee about the machinery for examining the Common Market legislation in the House, and also in regard to the duties of Members elected to the European Parliament from this House, the process of their selection and whom they will be?

Mr. Carr

What is needed, and what the Government repeatedly have said they would like to see, is a committee to inquire into and report on the parliamentary procedures which we should adopt. I am aware that the Procedure Committee has put forward some preliminary ideas which are useful, but before the House debates the matter—and I will consider it carefully—it might be advisable to have a fuller and more detailed report before us on which we can express our views.

Mr. James Johnson

Last Thursday in business questions the right hon. Gentleman kindly gave me a pledge that he would see the Minister of State for Defence to discuss the Icelandic fishing dispute, particularly on need for contingency plans to be undertaken in the sad event of anything happening after 1st September. Has he seen his right hon. Friend and what action has he taken?

Mr. Carr

I conveyed the hon. Gentleman's concern and made it clear that he was speaking for many other people with a similar concern. I am sorry that my right hon. Friend is not ready to make a statement before the House rises, but I assure the hon. Gentleman and the House that contingency planning is actively taking place.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. We must move on. I must think of the interests of the private Members who have subjects for discussion today. I intend to exercise my discretion and to vary the order of business slightly. I propose to take the two points of order and the Ruling on Privilege before I take the statement on Maplin.