HC Deb 11 May 1972 vol 836 cc1551-8
Mr. Harold Wilson

May I ask the Leader of the House to state the business for next week?

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Reginald Maudling)

I have been asked to reply.

The business for next week will be as follows:

MONDAY, 15TH MAY, TUESDAY, 16TH MAY, WEDNESDAY, 17TH MAY.—Further progress in Committee on the Finance Bill.

At the end on Monday, Motion on the Fertilisers (United Kingdom) Scheme.

THURSDAY, 18TH MAY.—Second Reading of the National Insurance Bill, which it is hoped to obtain by about seven o'clock.

Afterwards, progress on the remaining stages of the Criminal Justice Bill.

FRIDAY, 19TH MAY.—Private Members' Motions.

MONDAY, 22ND MAY.—Second Reading of the Industry Bill.

Completion of the remaining stages of the Criminal Justice Bill.

Mr. Speaker, the House will wish to know that, subject to progress of business, it is intended to propose that the House should rise for the Whitsun Adjournment on Friday, 26th May, until Monday, 5th June.

Mr. Wilson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there must be little hope of getting the timetable on the Criminal Justice Bill in view of the large number of hon. Members who want to speak on the National Insurance Bill next Thursday and the fact that the following Monday's business will raise every aspect of regional development? He cannot hope to get the Industry Bill through early in the day.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman these questions? First, can he ensure that there will be an early statement in the House next week on Vietnam, followed by discussions about a debate on Vietnam in Government time?

Second, in view of the long overdue and totally inadequate statement earlier this week on steel, and the resulting unemployment, will the right hon. Gentleman promise an early debate in Government time on that statement and on the steel industry; otherwise, is he aware that it will be necessary for the Opposition to force a debate by the tabling of a Motion of censure?

Third, can the right hon. Gentleman tell us—I hope he can—whether we can hope to have a statement on Rhodesia before the recess which he has just announced?

Fourth, on the subject of Supply days, is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in recent weeks and months the flow of Supply days has been totally inadequate to enable the House to function in a normal manner? Can he give the House an assurance that, despite the trouble the Government have got into on the legislative programme, there will now be a regular flow of Supply days so that amongst other subjects, my right hon. and hon. Friends can continue the region by region examination of the appalling effects of Government policy on unemployment and on regional prospects?

Mr. Maudling

I will do my best in the absence of my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons, who is indisposed.

I hope that we shall get ahead with the Criminal Justice Bill. Let us see how it goes. I think that the Bill is welcomed on both sides, though possibly not in every detail.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs gave the House information on Vietnam yesterday and, I think, the day before, and I am sure that he will be only too happy to make statements at any time when further information is available to him which will be useful to the House.

I cannot promise an early debate on the steel industry.

I think I am right in saying that the position we have reached at present is about the normal allocation of Supply days for this part of the Session. There is not one in next week's programme, but it may well be possible to arrange one shortly thereafter, should the Opposition so desire.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs will be making a statement on the Pearce Report in the very near future.

Mr. Wilson

I recognise the right hon. Gentleman's difficulties, and the whole House will be sorry to hear of the indisposition of the Leader of the House. Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise that his answer on the question of a debate on steel, which is obviously an interim answer in the absence of his right hon. Friend, is totally unsatisfactory, and that if we cannot get a debate in Government time we shall have to take the necessary action to procure one?

The right hon. Gentleman did not answer the question about Rhodesia in the sense that I put it to him; namely, can he give us an assurance that we shall have a debate on Rhodesia before the recess?

Mr. Maudling

I did not think the right hon. Gentleman would be wholly satisfied with my reply about a debate on the steel industry. Note will be taken of what he says.

As to Rhodesia, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will be making a statement in the near future, and I will call to his attention the Opposition's desire that, so far as possible, it should be made before the recess.

Captain Orr

My right hon. Friend will be aware of the exchanges which took place following last Thursday's announcement of business. He will be aware also of the exchanges on Monday and Tuesday when you, Mr. Speaker, indicated the difficulty in which you were placed in the matter of Private Notice Questions. For example, there have been a number of applications to Mr. Speaker for Private Notice Questions today. The difficulty persists. I wonder whether my right hon. Friend has anything to say about the matter.

Mr. Maudling

I read the report of the exchanges last week. I appreciate, from my own experience, the difficulty. Discussions are still proceeding on the general question of the conduct of Northern Ireland business in the House; those discussions have not yet been concluded. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland will be making a statement shortly on the present position in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Dell

Is the Secretary of State aware that it would be intolerable if the Government tried to get the remaining stages of the Criminal Justice Bill after the Second Reading of the National Insurance Bill next Thursday and after ten o'clock on Monday week in view of the very controversial elements which the Bill contains? Will the Government therefore arrange for the remaining stages of the Criminal Justice Bill to be taken at a time when the House can debate them in proper detail?

Mr. Maudling

I know that the right Gentleman has been paying great attention to this Bill, as I have myself. It should be possible to get through the remaining stages on the basis that I have announced. As I have said, we must see how it goes.

Dame Irene Ward: As the announcements which have been made on the question of steel concern regional policies as well as the British steel industry, will my right hon. Friend give an undertaking that there will be no decision on where one of the new plants is to be established before the House has had an opportunity of hearing the regional side as well as the British steel industry's side, because I would like to make a speech on the subject? This is a very important question to our regions, for which I shall fight tooth and nail.

Mr. Maudling

Many big issues are involved in the steel programme. It is a very long-term matter. I take note of what my hon. Friend says. There will not be any discussions next week on steel.

Mr. Molloy

There is growing unemployment in the Greater London area, particularly in the Borough of Ealing, caused, it would appear, by the increasing movement of firms out of the area. Will the right hon. Gentleman arrange a debate on the matter rather than wait until the situation reaches crisis proportions?

Mr. Maudling

I do not think I can make a proposal for such a debate at present.

Mr. Stratton Mills

Will by right hon. Friend look at the position regarding Northern Ireland Questions, which come up only once in four weeks? Will he bear in mind that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is responsible for all Government Departments in Northern Ireland? Will he consider as sympathetically as possible including the Secretary of State in the rota twice in the week so that he would come up in practice once a fortnight?

Mr. Maudling

We are well aware of the problem. As I have said, discussions are going on about the handling of Northern Ireland Questions and business in the House. I am afraid that at the moment I cannot make a definitive statement.

Miss Lestor

Has the right hon. Gentleman seen Motion No. 286, which has been signed by more than 150 right hon. and hon. Members and relates to the growing problem of unemployment among young people? Will he press the Leader of the House very firmly for a debate on the subject in the very near future as the problem is causing grave concern among parents?

[That this House, recognising that over 50,000 young people are unemployed and that thousands of school-leavers last year had to wait many months for their first job, urges the Government to take emergency action to deal with the employment problems that will confront 532,000 children when they leave school this summer]

Mr. Maudling

I will see that my right hon. Friend's attention is called to the hon. Lady's request.

Sir D. Renton

In arranging future business, will my right hon. Friend bear in mind, in considering the resumption of the Report stage of the Local Government Bill, that it contains a great deal of detail which calls for further discussions? Will he try to arrange for those discussions to take place at reasonable hours?

Mr. Maudling

Yes, Sir. We will certainly bear that in mind.

Mr. Eadie

Will the right hon. Gentleman impress upon the Leader of the House the fact that the Government cannot come to the House, make a statement on steel which places a big question mark over the jobs of thousands of steel workers, and not have a debate? Will he impress upon the Leader of the House that there must be a debate on this issue because it concerns the jobs of thousands of steel workers?

Mr. Maudling

The great importance of the steel industry has been recognised by the fact that we have had several debates about it in the last year. The long-term programme of great expansion of the industry is obviously of great importance. I will call my right hon. Friend's attention to the desire of the House to have a debate.

Rev. Ian Paisley

May I return to the right hon. Gentleman's answers about business for Northern Ireland? Is he aware that the Northern Ireland Finance Corporation Bill, which is essential to assisting all businesses in Northern Ireland, had almost passed through all its stages in Stormont? Will he, therefore, make representations to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to see that the Order in Council bringing the Bill into effect is speeded up?

Mr. Maudling

I have the impression that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland heard what the hon. Gentleman said.

Sir Elwyn Jones

Will the right hon. Gentleman look again at the proposal for dealing with the Criminal Justice Bill, which is absurd? This Bill is of very great importance; the Standing Committee spent 25 sitings on it. It raises matters of great public and current importance in regard to the administration of justice. I am astonished at the somewhat frivolous approach of the right hon. Gentleman to a matter which should be of deep concern to him.

Mr. Maudling

Of course it is of deep concern to me, and I agree entirely about the importance of the Bill. If more time is needed, we must deal with it thoroughly. This is not, fortunately, a matter of party controversy, since the Bill has the general agreement of both sides of the House. I hope that we can get through it as expeditiously as possible. We shall have to see how we get on.

Dame Joan Vickers

As two of the Private Member's Motions on the Order Paper for tomorrow are very similar, will they be taken together or separately?

Mr. Maudling

I shall have to take advice about that.

Mr. Skinner

Could the right hon. Gentleman arrange for the publication of the Boyle Committee recommendations on the salaries of chairmen of nationalised industries? He must be aware of certain Press speculation suggesting that the Chairman of British Railways—the highwayman himself—has the prospect of getting a £4,000 increase, or 20 per cent. in all. I am sure that we are all anxious to see that the dispute with the railwaymen covers the whole range of the pay claims on the railways.

Mr. Maudling

I do not think that that strictly arises from questions on business for next week.


Mrs. Renée Short

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Since the Home Secretary is here, may I ask whether he recalls that at Business Questions last week I asked whether the Secretary of State for Education and Science would be in the House tomorrow? Can he tell the House whether the Minister has any intention of appearing tomorrow—

Mr. Speaker

That was a very brave attempt, but it is not a point of order.