HC Deb 18 May 1972 vol 837 cc692-8
Mr. Harold Wilson

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

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Robert Carr)

The business for next week will be as follows:

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

Remaining stages of the Overseas Investment and Export Guarantees Bill.

Second Reading of the Parliamentary and Other Pensions Bill.

TUESDAY, 23RD MAY—Supply (19th allotted day): There will be a debate on Steel.

Motion on the Hovercraft (Application of Enactments) Order.

WEDNESDAY, 24TH MAY—Further progress in Committee on the European Communities Bill.

THURSDAY, 25TH MAY—Remaining stages of the Criminal Justice Bill.

FRIDAY, 26TH MAY—It will be proposed that the House should rise for the Whitsun Adjournment until Monday. 5th June.

Mr. Wilson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we welcome the fact that he took notice of the point made from this side of the House last week that the Criminal Justice Bill was not likely to make progress in the time then suggested? Is he aware that we on this side will do our best to ensure that the work on this very important Bill is completed by a reasonable hour?

Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that the debate on the steel industry on Tuesday is to take place on an Opposition Motion? The Motion should be available to hon. Members tonight.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say at this stage when he expects to have the debate on the Whitsun Adjournment?

Mr. Carr

I regret that I cannot give the right hon. Gentleman a precise answer to that last question at the moment.

I confirm that the debate on the steel industry will take place on an Opposition Motion. I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues for facilitating the debate on a Supply Day on this occasion.

Sir D. Renton

Can we have a debate on the future reorganisation of water supplies and the future of land drainage before the Government make final decisions on these important matters?

Mr. Carr

Clearly not next week, but I assure my right hon. and learned Friend that I will ensure that that is very seriously considered by my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Foley

When are we likely to receive the Report of the Pearce Commission, and what provisions have been made for debating this subject? Is it not intolerable that Mr. Smith and many other people around the world will have sight of the Pearce Report before hon. Members on both sides have had a chance to examine it?

Mr. Carr

I cannot agree with the hon. Gentleman in his comment about "many other people around the world". To answer the question on business, which is the relevant one for me, it is certainly hoped that the Pearce Commission Report will be published next week, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs will make a statement about it, perhaps on Tuesday, but certainly next week before the House rises for the Whitsun Recess. As for a debate, I think it will probably be for the convenience of both sides of the House to have a chance to study the report following its publication and my right hon. Friend's statement, but, clearly, there will have to be a debate and, I imagine, fairly early after we return from the Whitsun Recess.

Sir D. Walker-Smith

Does my right hon. Friend recall that a few weeks ago in business questions I asked his predecessor whether it would be possible for the Chairman of Ways and Means to make a rather earlier provisional selection of Amendments for the European Communities Bill, to which my right hon. Friend the previous Lord President of the Council gave a sympathetic response? Will my right hon. Friend follow this up and see whether that can be achieved?

Mr. Carr

I take note of what my right lion. and learned Friend says, and I will certainly speak to the Chairman of Ways and Means about it.

Mr. David Steel

Does the Leader of the House recognise that hon. Members are restless since the report has appeared in the Press that the Report of the Pearce Commission has been sent out officially to Mr. Smith? Although the debate on this matter may properly wait for some days, both the statement by the Secretary of State and the publication of the report should occur this week.

Mr. Carr

I cannot accept that, but I repeat my promise that the statement will be made next week, perhaps on Tuesday.

Rev. Ian Paisley

When are we likely to have a debate on Northern Ireland? Is the Leader of the House aware that daily shootings and murders are taking place in Northern Ireland and that the people there are greatly perturbed as Stormont is no longer in existence and these matters cannot be ventilated by their public representatives? Can he give an assurance that the people of Northern Ireland are not to be forsaken and that their plight is to be considered and time will be given for discussion of a very serious situation which could lead to the most bloody of civil wars before the House resumes after Whitsun?

Mr. Carr

I assure the hon. Gentleman that I am having discussion with all concerned about how we can best deal with these matters. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland will be making a statement in a few minutes' time. I believe I can also help the House by saying that it is my right hon. Friend's hope that he will be able to make statements on most Thursdays when he is not top of the list for Questions.

This may be a little unprecedented, but perhaps I may also say—I hope I shall not have to eat my words—that I hope in my next business statement to include time for Northern Ireland business.

Mr. Charles R. Morris

Did the right hon. Gentleman observe that on Tuesday last the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food stated that between June, 1970, and March, 1972, Britain's food index increased by 17.2 per cent? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the same Minister said in March, 1971, that "we"—presumably meaning, the Conservative Government—"are getting on top of inflation"? Is it the intention of the Minister of Agriculture to make a statement next week explaining these apparent contradictions?

Mr. Carr

I am sure that my right hon. Friend would desire to be able to debate this matter. Unfortunately, I shall not be able to find time for him to do so next week. I can confirm—thank goodness—that the rise in prices is slowing down.

Mr. Hastings

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it would be helpful to the House if we could have a statement, if not even a debate, on progress on the Third London Airport project at Maplin? This is, after all, one of the largest developments this century, with ramifications for many sectors of our national life. Is he aware that there is a great deal of uncertainty, and even apprehension, about how things are going?

Mr. Carr

I will draw my hon. Friend's remarks to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. I should have thought that hon. Members could keep this subject in mind as a very good one for a Private Members' day some time in the future.

Mr. Lomas

Has the attention of the Leader of the House been drawn to Early-Day Motion No. 279, which stands in my name, which is an all-party Motion which has been on the Order Paper for 28 consecutive sitting days? The Motion has been signed by 108 hon. Members from all three major parties.

[That this House urges the Government to set up a research institute under the auspices of the Medical Research Council to inquire into alternative methods of research not involving the use of animals.]

Will the right hon. Gentleman promise that we shall have a debate either before Whitsun or soon afterwards?

Mr. Carr

I cannot promise any time for a debate. I should hope that this, too, would be a typical subject for a Private Members' day.

Mr. John Hall

Can we have an early debate on metrication before the country becomes committed to this change without the consent of Parliament?

Mr. Carr

I am sure that this is a subject which the House might wish to debate at some time, but I cannot see any hope of doing so in the near future.

Mrs. Castle

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us when we may expect a further statement on contaminated dextrose solution? A fortnight ago I asked the Secretary of State for Social Services to let us have it as soon as his inquiries were completed. He promised to discuss it and arrange it through the usual channels.

Mr. Carr

I have been in touch with my right hon. Friend about this, and I understand that he hopes to make a statement about it next week.

Sir Gilbert Longden

Would my right hon. Friend place us all in his debt by warning hon. Members that they would be wise not to make holiday plans before such-and-such a date in August or September, thereby allowing our noble friends in the House of Lords to make their holiday arrangements?

Mr. Carr

I must give myself a warning about this before I give it to anybody else. We should take note of the fact that our holidays this year look like being rather precious.

Mr. Greville Janner

Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that in the Queen's Speech the House was promised that legislation would be introduced in this Session to render void spurious guarantees and warranties, and when will time be given for that purpose?

Mr. Carr

I cannot make any statement about that at the moment, but I will take note of what the hon. and learned Gentleman has said and look into the matter.

Mr. Crouch

May I remind my right hon. Friend that President Pompidou made mention this week of the Channel Tunnel? I wonder whether we may have similar mention in this House fairly soon.

Mr. Carr

It is easier to make mention of it than to debate it in this House with the business that we have in front of us.>

Mr. Arthur Lewis

Has the Leader of the House seen the two articles in the Evening News earlier this week revealing the scandalous situation with regard to the gazumping of the British taxpayer by the British Lion Film Corporation? In view of the excellent work the Prime Minister did in connection with this before his appointment as Prime Minister, will the Leader of the House ensure that the appropriate Minister makes a statement next week or that we have a debate, because what is going on is nothing more or less than crookery?

Mr. Carr

I have not had the advantage of reading these articles. Stimulated by the hon. Gentleman, I will do so, but it is not business for next week.

Mr. McMaster

It is more than two months since the political initiative was taken and the Northern Ireland Parliament was suspended. There are about 30 Bills of varying importance and complexity pending in respect of Northern Ireland. What steps is my right hon. Friend taking to have this legislation introduced and properly debated in a democratic fashion, as was promised by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister?

Mr. Carr

I said earlier that I hoped I might have something to say about Northern Ireland business in my next Business Statement.

Mr. William Hamilton

When is the right hon. Gentleman to make a state- ment about the dropping of the Bill on museum and gallery charges?

Mr. Carr

I can only repeat what I have said before, that I am hoping to make a business statement before long announcing that we shall have time to proceed with it.