HC Deb 13 July 1972 vol 840 cc1838-40
Q1. Mr. Peter Archer

asked the Prime Minister if he will establish co-ordination between the Lord Chancellor, the Secretary of State for Education and Science and the Secretary of State for Social Services to provide wider knowledge among the public of their legal rights, responsibilities and entitlements.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Edward Heath)

Yes, Sir. The Government have made substantial efforts to ensure that people know of their rights, responsibilities and entitlements in a number of areas in the social services and in industrial relations, and proposals are being formulated for a national campaign advertising the provisions of the Legal Advice and Assistance Bill.

Mr. Archer

While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for that answer, bearing in mind his ostensible purpose of forging the country into one nation, may I ask him whether he appreciates that even the giving of rights can widen the gap between the articulate and knowledgeable and those whose disadvantages begin at birth, continue through the education system and are repeated every time they are asked to fill in a form which reads like a common entrance examination or to claim benefits under regulations which read as though they were expressed in a secret code? Will he at least undertake that the Eleventh Report of the Criminal Law Revision Committee will not be implemented until the Government have had representations from those who understand what it is like to be in fear of the police and of lawyers and not to have an adequate command of English?

The Prime Minister

I appreciate the point made by the hon. and learned Gentleman. As to the second part of his question, I can give him the full assurance for which he asks. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has already said that he will be ready to receive representations from all interested bodies before any decisions are reached.

Mr. Tom King

In considering co-ordination between Departments to ensure the wider spread of knowledge about people's rights, would my right hon. Friend agree that two of the most important organisations in this respect are the Department of Employment and the TUC? Would he agree that they could make people aware of new rights they now enjoy for the first time—the right to a longer period of notice, the right to belong to a trade union and the right of appeal against unfair dismissal—all contained in the Industrial Relations Act?

The Prime Minister

The TUC has gone to considerable lengths to make information of this kind available. Free guides have been published by the Government dealing with these points and firms have been issued. It may be of interest to the House to know that the film on the Industrial Relations Act has broken all sale and hire records for the COI film library.

Mr. Grimond

Will the Prime Minister ensure that the name of the Secretary of State for Scotland is added to the list of Ministers contained in the Question?

The Prime Minister

I gladly accept that comment.