HC Deb 20 December 1972 vol 848 cc1337-41
Mr. Harold Wilson

May I ask the Leader of the House whether he will state the business for the week after the recess?

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. James Prior)

Yes, Sir.

The business for the week when the House resumes will be as follows:

MONDAY, 22ND JANUARY—Debate on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Reports from the Select Committee on Science and Technology, Session 1971–72, and the relevant Government Observations (Command Nos. 5176 and 5177).

Remaining stages of the Sea Fish Industry Bill.

Motion on the Fishing Vessels (Acquisition and Improvement) (Grants) (Amendment) Scheme.

TUESDAY, 23RD JANUARY—Second Reading of the Furnished Lettings (Rent Allowances) Bill and of the Fire Precautions (Loans) Bill.

Motion on the Northern Ireland (Border Poll) Order.

WEDNESDAY, 24TH JANUARY—Supply (5th allotted day). Debate on a subject to be announced.

THURSDAY, 25TH JANUARY—Second Reading of the Atomic Energy Authority (Weapons Group) Bill [Lords], until seven o'clock.

Motion relating to Merchant Shipping Regulations.

FRIDAY, 26TH JANUARY—Private Members' Bills.

Mr. Wilson

Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that there will be a statement on steel tomorrow? Second, in relation to the business on Thursday 25th January, will he also confirm that the Atomic Energy Authority (Weapons Group) Bill [Lords] deals only with the transfer—important though it is, on which there will be many views—of weapons establishments from the Atomic Energy Authority to the Ministry of Defence, and does not raise questions on a wider nuclear issue?

Mr. Prior

I confirm what the right hon. Gentleman said on the latter point. On the former, the Secretary of State will be making a statement on steel tomorrow afternoon.

Mr. Leslie Huckfield

In view of the Government's continuing campaign of terror against the Press, and in view of the fact that the police have used telephone tapping and blackmail to get information, when shall we have a statement from this Government and a debate about their intentions over the implementation of the Franks Committee Report on the Official Secrets Act?

Mr. Prior

The hon. Member has from time to time made accusations which have proved totally false in this respect. I understand that he has written to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary on this matter. My right hon. Friend is asking the Metropolitan Commissioner of Police for a report.

Mr. Fell

Arising out of what happened in the other place, has my right hon. Friend had time since last week to consider more carefully the situation regarding family planning and the statement made by his right hon. Friend last week? Will he find time to discuss this matter in the House of Commons, where it ought to be discussed?

Mr. Prior

I do not think, after what has happened in another place, that there will be any difficulty about discussing it in the House on Second Reading.

Mr. Elystan Morgan

Could the right hon. Gentleman tell us why it is that 1972 has been a fallow year in so far as an agricultural debate is concerned? Does he recollect that it was in June 1971 that we last discussed the affairs of this vital industry? How soon shall we have a debate on this matter?

Mr. Prior

I can only presume that everyone is so satisfied with the state of agriculture that they have decided that there is no need for a debate.

Dame Irene Ward

With regard to the business on 22nd January, after the first matters, and the remaining stages of the Sea Fish Industry Bill, am I right in assuming that we shall discuss the subsidies for the fishing industry? At what sort of hour shall we have once more to begin discussing fishing matters? We who represent fishing ports are a little worried about the late hour of the night that we have to discuss fish. Is it necessary to put this order down for that night? Or did I misunderstand my right hon. Friend? I am willing to be co-operative, but I like to know where I stand.

Mr. Prior

I know my hon. Friend's interest in the fishing industry. We had the Second Reading of the Bill at a very reasonable time, and I do not think there are many points to be raised on the remaining stages. The Fishing Vessels (Acquisition and Improvement) (Grants) (Amendment) Scheme arises out of the need to obtain this measure quickly. It is an important one for the fishing industry.

Mr. Kaufman

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us when we may expect the Manchester caravan site designation order, bearing in mind that the implementation of that order as a matter of urgency is of great importance to large numbers of my constituents?

Mr. Prior

I am sorry but I cannot give the hon. Gentleman an answer to that off the cuff. I shall have the matter looked into and write to the hon. Gentleman about it.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis

Can my right hon. Friend say when the debate on the new parliamentary building is likely to take place? May we have a whole day on this subject? When we debate it will the Government bear in mind that because of entering Europe we may have to have another look at this, as extra Committee Rooms may be required for European Parliament purposes, and we have to provide for that somehow or other?

Mr. Prior

I should like to find time for a debate as soon as I can, but I am afraid that it will not be in the first few weeks after we return.

Mr. Russell Kerr

When shall be have a debate on the recent report of the Select Committee which inquired into the Independent Broadcasting Authority, which has important implications for the future of broadcasting in this country?

Mr. Prior

I hope that it will not be very long before the Government's reply to the Select Committee will be available and, after that, in due course it will have to be one of those committee reports which can be taken for debate when time is available.

Mr. Ross

Will the Leader of the House say when the Government will be giving their conclusions about the reestablishment of the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs? Secondly, I presume that in the week in which we return we shall be starting the Committee stage of the Local Government (Scotland) Bill. Can the right hon. Gentleman say now the size of the Committee? Will he give an assurance that it will be big enough—about 39 hon. Members—to ensure that the Liberal Members will be there of their own right?

Mr. Prior

On the latter point, I thought that there had been some consultation. So far I have not been a party to those consultations. I shall make further inquiries into that matter.

On the point about the setting up of the Select Committee, I have had some consultations, which are not yet complete, but I shall certainly be in a position to give the House more information about this immediately on our return.

Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles

Will my right hon. Friend say whether the House would be recalled if there were any threat of a further large-scale influx of Asians from East Africa?

Mr. Prior

That is a hypothetical question, which I hope will not arise.

Mr. Lipton

Will the Leader of the House take note of the motion which I placed on the Order Paper on 31st October asking the Government to ban the export of live animals? Will he provide half a day, after we resume, for a debate on this subject, on which so many hon. Members have very strong views?

[That this House calls upon Her Majesty's Government to replace the export trade in live cattle by a carcase trade, as recommended by the Balfour Committee 15 years ago.]

Mr. Prior

No. I think that this is very much a matter for private Members' motions. I would only say to the hon. Gentleman that the Government's policy is that we much prefer the export of meat in carcase form to that in live animal form.