HC Deb 18 April 1973 vol 855 cc491-5
Mr. Edward Short

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

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

Yes, Sir.

The business for the first week after the Adjournment will be as follows: —

MONDAY 30TH APRIL—Second Reading of the National Insurance and Supplementary Benefits Bill.

At seven o'clock the Chairman of Ways and Means has named opposed Private Business for consideration.

Motions on the Rating of Industry (Scotland) Order, the Furnished Lettings (Rateable Value Limits) Order, the African Development Fund (Immunities and Privileges) Order, and the motion relating to the Local Government Super- annuation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations.

TUESDAY 1ST MAY—Progress on the remaining stages of the Water Bill.

WEDNESDAY 2ND MAY—Completion of the remaining stages of the Water Bill, which it is hoped to finish by seven o'clock.

Afterwards, motion on the Counter-Inflation (Price and Pay Code) Order and motions relating to Counter-Inflation Orders on Remuneration of Teachers, the Notification of Increases in Prices and Charges and on the Modification of Agricultural Wages Acts.

THURSDAY 3RD MAY—Debate on a motion to take note of the Second Report of the Select Committee on Nationalised Industries, Session 1971–72, on the Independent Broadcasting Authority, and on the relevant Government Observations.

Motion on the Regulation of Prices (Tranquillising Drugs) Order.

FRIDAY 4TH MAY—Private Members' Bills.

Mr. Short

The right hon. Gentleman will no doubt have seen the extremely serious trade figures today, which I believe are the worst ever. When are we to have a statement from the Prime Minister or the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or both, on what the Government intend to do about the extremely serious and deteriorating state of the economy, and when are we to have time for a debate on it?

Mr. Prior

I shall convey the right hon. Gentleman's views to my right hon. Friend, but I should tell him that the Government intend to keep their nerve, to keep the economy expanding and to keep prosperity going.

Mr. Marten

Does my right hon. Friend recall that about a fortnight ago it was proposed to debate the motion on the draft directive concerning driving licences.

[That this House rejects the proposals contained in a draft directive of the Commission of the European Communities (No. C 119/1 dated 16th November 1972 in the Official Journal of the EC) namely, the Raising of the Age for a Driving Licence from 17 years to 18 years and other related matter.]

The reason given for postponing the debate was the absence of the draft documents from the Vote Office. Two or three weeks have elapsed. Surely the documents have been printed. Why cannot we debate the motion? I should be very grateful if we could.

Mr. Prior

I have told my hon. Friend and the House on various occasions that the motion will have to be debated at a convenient time, but there is no particular hurry about it. My hon. Friend will have heard the remarks of my right hon. Friend the Minister for Transport Industries this afternoon. I am sure that a proper opportunity will be found at the right time to debate the motion.

Mr. Fernyhough

When are we to have a statement from the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food about the outcome of the marathon talks in Brussels which ended at half-past six this morning and the effect they are likely to have on our cost of living?

Mr. Prior

The talks have not ended and therefore there is no outcome at the moment to report, but my right hon. Friend will make a statement to the House when the talks have finished.

Mr. Jeffrey Archer

Has my right hon. Friend seen the Early Day Motion standing in the name of 100 Members on both sides of the House about raising the exemption limit on prescription charges from the age of 15 to 16 to coincide with the raising of the school-leaving age?

[That this House is deeply concerned that Her Majesty's Government feels unable to grant free National Health Service prescriptions to all children up to sixteen years of age who are attending school; and calls upon the Government to grant this concession as soon as possible.]

Will he ask my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services to make a statement to the House after the recess to the effect that he has decided to increase the limit to the age of 16?

Mr. Prior

I do not know about the latter part of my hon. Friend's question, but I shall convey his views to my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Heffer

Will the Leader of the House indicate when we are to have a debate on the Robens Report dealing with the question of safety, particularly as it affects the construction industry, and when we are likely to get the proposed legislation?

Mr. Prior

I know that hon. Members on both sides of the House are keen to have such a debate, but I cannot promise one in the immediate future. I cannot undertake to give a date for the introduction of legislation, but there will have to be legislation and I have already told the House that the Government accept the need for it.

Mr. Kilfedder

Will my right hon. Friend say when the Oaths and Declarations (Repeals) (Northern Ireland) Order will be debated? [HON. MEMBERS: "Tonight."] I already have the answer to that question. Will my right hon. Friend ensure that Northern Ireland orders are not taken late at night and bunched together, making it difficult for Northern Ireland Members and, indeed, other hon. Members?

Mr. Prior

I hope that my hon. Friend realises that he, too, causes certain difficulties to hon. Members on both sides of the House. I think that we have done Northern Ireland pretty proud in the last 12 weeks, and I hope that Northern Ireland Members will wish to co-operate with other hon. Members as well as with themselves.

Mr. Skeet

Will my right hon. Friend indicate when the House is likely to debate the fifth directive on managerial and supervisory boards in industry? This matter is being debated in Europe and is regarded as exceedingly important in this country.

Mr. Prior

I cannot promise immediate time. I shall consider the matter and get in touch with my hon. Friend.

Mr. Short

Unless English words have lost their meaning, the Leader of the House talked gibberish when he replied to my earlier question. We have the worst trade figures ever in any one month. The right hon. Gentleman says that the Government will keep their nerve and will keep prosperity going. Will he tell us what they will do about these figures— the worst trade figures we have had in any one month in our history?

Mr. Prior

I am not sure of the relevance of the right hon. Gentleman's question to business. That might be a suitable matter to discuss on the Adjournment Motion which we are to take next. I shall be very happy in the next debate to put the Government's case, which I think is a superb case.