§ The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. James Prior)
Yes, Sir. The business for next week will be as follows:
§ Motion relating to the Import Duties (General) (No. 8) Order.
§ Motion on the European Communities (Definition of Treaties) (No. 2) Order.
§ TUESDAY 18TH DECEMBER AND WEDNESDAY 19TH DECEMBER—(7th allotted Supply Day)—Debate on the Economic and Energy Situation, which will arise on a motion for the Adjournment of the House.
§ At the end on Tuesday, consideration of the Queen's message and of the motion to approve the Emergency Regulations.
§ THURSDAY 20TH DECEMBER—Motions on the Rate Support Grant (Increase) Orders.
§ FRIDAY 21ST DECEMBER—It will be proposed that the House should rise for the Christmas Adjournment until Tuesday, 15th January, 1974.
§ In putting forward this date, Mr. Speaker, the Government will be especially aware of the possible need of asking the House to resume sooner.
§ Mr. Wilson
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we are grateful to the Government for agreeing to what we 662 asked, namely, that if the Chancellor has any proposals to make, he should make them on Monday so that when the House considers these matters on Tuesday and Wednesday we shall have the whole picture in front of us? There are distinguished precedents, under successive Governments, for statements being made not during the debate but before it, including the one concerning yourself, Mr. Speaker, on 25th July 1961. We are grateful that we shall be given the complete picture.
§ Mr. Wilson
With the rearrangement of business which the right bon. Gentleman has announced, we should have adequate time to question the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in so far as it will be necessary, in the debate, and the House will co-operate in the rest of the business of the day, including what will be an extremely important debate on harmonisation tariffs, value added tax and other things.
§ Mr. Powell
Will my right hon. Friend endeavour to ensure that as soon as possible after the Christmas Recess we shall have the opportunity to take a decision on the ways in which the House is to exercise control over the secondary legislation of the European Community?
§ Mr. Prior
I apologise to the House for the fact that we are not to have this debate before Christmas, as I had hoped. This is not possible only because of the rearrangement of business which I have announced. I want to have the debate very soon after we return because it is important that we come to a decision on what methods the House should adopt to debate these important matters.
§ Mr. Lipton
The Government promised that we should have the report of the Lane Committee on abortion law before the end of the year. Is that promise to be kept?
§ Mr. Prior
I welcome the hon. Gentleman back after his illness. I am not certain that the Government ever promised that the report would be available to the House by the end of the year. It has been said that the report is to be in the hands of the Government by the end of the year. As soon as it is printed it will be published and made available to the House.
§ Dame Irene Ward
May we expect the order relating to the Kielder Dam before Christmas, in view of the fact that it does not arouse any controversy? It would be very helpful to have the order before the Christmas Recess. The order is needed so as to get on with providing water which is very important for industry. At the moment industry needs everything it can get.
§ Mr. Prior
I have done my best for my hon. Friend, but I regret that the order will not be available before the Christmas Recess. It will, however, be available shortly afterwards. I know of the interest which my hon. Friend has taken in this matter and I have done everything I can, but I have to admit defeat.
§ Mr. Charles R. Morris
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the Northwest there is anxiety that the Minister for Transport Industries is about to announce rejection of an application for a grant from the SELNEC Passenger Transport Authority, for the Manchester Piccadilly-Victoria rapid transit system, of £100 million? Is he aware that such a decision would be considered an outrage and may precipitate a crisis of confidence in the Government's transport policy? Will the right hon. Gentleman take the Minister for Transport Industries to one side and remind him of the pledges which the Government gave about open government at the time of the last General Election? Further, will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that if the Minister for Transport Industries is to make an announcement he will make a statement in the House next week on this very important subject?
§ Mr. Marten
As there have been three meetings of the Council of Ministers this week, may we expect a statement on the matter next week?
§ Mr. Prior
I would have thought it likely that the Prime Minister would either refer in his speech next week to the summit conference or make a statement, but I would like to examine the matter. As for other statement resulting from Ministers being in Brussels this week, I would like to inform myself as to exactly what has been discussed and thereafter let my hon. Friend know the position.
§ Mr. Alfred Morris
Is the Leader of the House aware that we expect him to take seriously and as a matter of urgency the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Openshaw (Mr. Charles R. Morris)? We feel that there has been an unconscionable delay in a decision being reached from the Minister for Transport Industries. Will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that we shall have a definite inviolable statement next week?
§ Mr. Stanbrook
Is my right hon. Friend aware of Early Day Motion No. 10 regarding the right of engineers to practise?
§ [That this House, mindful of the fact that from 31st December 1973 the right of many thousands of qualified engineers to practise in the United Kingdom and the European Economic Community will be in jeopardy, urges Her Majesty's Government to seek an urgent settlement between the Council of Engineering Institutions and the many known non-chartered bodies such as the Institution of Heating and Ventilating Engineers.]
§ Unless something is done before the end of this month the rights of perfectly well-qualified engineers to practise in Europe will come to an end.
§ Mr. Bidwell
Will the right hon. Gentleman assure us that there will be a recall of Parliament sooner than the 665 date which he announced today should the grave industrial crisis and the present industrial relations situation prevail and continue into the recess period and should it look like worsening, especially if the Government envisage using troops in any activity which is normally undertaken by workers?
§ Mr. Kenneth Lewis
Does the right hon. Gentleman believe that if the rest of the country is on a three-day week we shall resume after the recess and be on a five-day week?
§ Mr. S. C. Silkin
Can the right hon. Gentleman answer the question which I put to him during business questions two weeks ago and privately a week ago and which has been the subject of many questions in the House, namely, whether a decision has been made, and if so when it will be announced, on the renewal of the right of individual petition to the European Commission on Human Rights? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the present period will expire before we resume after the Christmas Recess and that it is most urgent that a decision should be announced immediately?
§ Mr. Spearing
Does the Lord President of the Council recall that during business questions last week he undertook to inform myself or the House whether it would be possible to debate the EEC general system of preference before that decision was made? Over 100 hon. Members have signed Motion No. 88:
§ [That, in view of the detailed and far reaching negotiations now taking place within EEC circles in Brussels concerning Associate Status, Generalised Preferences, the European Development Fund and other related matters, this House believes that Her Majesty's Government should enter into no agreements about future policy in these spheres until there has been an opportunity fully to debate any proposals within this House.]
§ Will the right hon. Gentleman assure us on the matter and say why he has not been able to find time to debate the matter next week?
§ Mr. Prior
The matters referred to in the motion were not the subject of deadlines in the Paris summit communiqué of October 1972. With regard to the question of associate status and the European Development Fund, the present Yaounde-Arusha Convention expires on 31st January 1975. In order to allow time for ratification, the Protocol 22 negotiations for successor arrangements will have to be concluded by next summer. Whether this timetable will be met remains to be seen.
As regards the improvements for the Community's generalised preference scheme, this is a continuing process with no final deadline. While I shall continue to bear in mind hon. Members' requests, I cannot give any undertaking to find time for a debate before decisions are taken. But it seems to me that a good many of the decisions will not be taken before time is available.
§ Mr. Warren
Will my right hon. Friend be prepared to give time in the near future to debate Early Day Motion No. 103 calling for the banning of beam trawling by Her Majesty's Government around the coasts of this country which has received support from 60 hon. Members on both sides of the House?
§ [That this House calls upon Her Majesty's Government to ban the use of beam trawls by fishing boats within the 12-mile fishing limit around the coast of the United Kingdom until a proper investigation has been completed, to the satisfaction of the inshore fishermen, of the effects of beam trawling on fish conservation.]
§ Mr. Prior
This is like old times. My hon. Friend the Minister of State for 667 Agriculture, Fisheries and Food recently announced consultations with all sides of the industry, including the minority of fishermen who favour the use of beam trawls. He is, I know, fully aware of the strength of feeling among certain hon. Members and also the inshore fishermen. We had better await the outcome of the consultations before considering the matter further.