§ Mr. Anthony Crosland (Grimsby)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You ruled on the Standing Order No. 9 application for a debate on the Maplin consultation papers, and that settles that, but may I raise the following point with you, particularly as the Leader of the House is here?
These papers amount to major statements of new Government policy. The House is rising on Wednesday and we shall have no opportunity of discussing them. I say nothing of the widespread rumours that are circulating about the cooking of the various noise statistics that apply to Maplin. May I through you, Mr. Speaker, put to the Leader of the House that the least we ask for is 1169 that the Secretary of State for the Environment should make a statement on these two consultation papers.
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis (West Ham, North)
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am not going into the reason why the Standing Order No. 9 application has been turned down. May I ask you what is the position? My right hon. Friend the Member for Grimsby (Mr. Crosland) asked the Minister to make a statement but the Leader of the House has not risen to respond. You may not be aware, Mr. Speaker, that, whereas Members of Parliament have only just received this document, the Daily Express has a full-page complete statement which can only have been given through the Minister. Is it not treating the House with contempt for the Minister to give all the information to the Daily Express and not make a statement to the House, and for the Leader of the House to refuse the suggestion of my right hon. Friend that a statement should be made?
§ Mr. Speaker
That is not a point of order. That is a matter for the Minister. The Leader of the House is present, he has heard the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion, and it now rests with him.
§ Mr. Crosland
May I press this matter, Mr. Speaker? It is not just the question of an interview with the Daily Express. I understand that the Secretary of State for the Environment today—and I make no criticism of this—has given or is giving a large number of television and radio interviews and making statements to the Press on this question. Major matters of national policy are involved here-a huge new town in the South-East and access routes which, incidentally, will involve the demolition of thousands of houses—
§ Mr. Crosland
I am on a point of order. May I, Mr. Speaker, through you press the Leader of the House to rise to his feet and assure the House that the Secretary of State will make a statement tomorrow?
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. That is as far as the matter can possibly go. This is more a point of business than of order. I allowed the right hon. Gentleman to ask the question, but it is entirely for the Leader of the House to decide whether or not he responds to it. That is for him.
§ The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. James Prior)
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. The document which has been published today follows a long series of documents which have been published on the Maplin project. The House is well aware that before a final decision is taken there will have to be another debate in this House. From that point of view, it did not seem unreasonable that documents outlining the possible routes and the area of the new town development should be made available. With this in view, my right hon. and learned Friend, naturally, thought it correct to make these documents available to the public and local authorities at the earliest possible moment. All these matters will be in order for discussion in future debates on Maplin. My right hon. and learned Friend and the Government have made clear that before the project can go ahead there must be further debates. The House will have ample opportunity later to debate these matters.
§ Several Hon. Members rose—
§ Sir Bernard Braine (Essex, South-East)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The document under discussion touches almost wholly upon my constituency and makes proposals which will involve massive changes to the community which I and my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East (Sir S. McAdden) represent. The document has been delayed and has appeared just before the recess. Surely it is in order to ask that note be taken that a statement should be made so that questions may be asked before we rise?
§ Mr. Speaker
That is not a point of order. It is more a question of business. I allowed the right hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Crosland) to put that point 1171 to the Leader of the House. How the Leader of the House answers is not for me. It is not a matter of order.