HC Deb 24 May 1973 vol 857 cc675-9
Mr. Harold Wilson

May I ask the Leader of the House whether he will state the business for the first week after the Whitsun Recess?

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

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

MONDAY, 11TH JUNE—Supply (21st allotted day). There will be a debate on the Northern Region, on an Opposition motion.

Motion on the International Cocoa Organisation (Immunities and Privileges) Order.

TUESDAY, 12TH JUNE—Report stage of the National Health Service Reorganisation Bill [Lords].

WEDNESDAY, 13TH JUNE—Remaining stages of the Maplin Development Bill.

Third Reading of the National Health Service Reorganisation Bill [Lords].

THURSDAY, 14TH JUNE—Progress in Committee on the Northern Ireland Constitution Bill.

FRIDAY, 15TH JUNE—A debate on the Channel Tunnel, which will arise on a motion for the Adjournment of the House.

Mr. Wilson

I have only one point to raise with the right hon. Gentleman. He will recall that in the last two weeks I have raised with him the need for a statement on the famine situation in the Indian sub-continent, and indeed in Africa. Will he confirm that the Government were hoping to make that statement today, but that, because of the importance of the Prime Minister's statement, it was turned into a Written Question and Answer? Does he accept that we recognise the need for this because the House must proceed subject to your rulings, Mr. Speaker, as quickly as possible to a very important constitutional measure? Therefore we accept the fact that his intended action was deferred, but will he bear in mind the need for an up-to-date statement on the famine situation when the House returns from the recess?

Mr. Prior

I confirm what the right hon. Gentleman said and I will bear in mind that the House would like an up-to-date statement when we return.

Mr. Cormack

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the statement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer earlier this week will not prevent the debate on the new parliamentary building?

Mr. Prior

Yes. The two matters are separate and a debate will have to take place.

Mr. Faulds

May we have a statement from the Government about the execution of freedom fighters in Southern Rhodesia and, when that statement is made by the Foreign Secretary or the Prime Minister, will it be made abundantly clear that Smith and the other renegades will be held accountable for those murders by the illegal régime?

Mr. Prior

I do not think that arises on the business for the week after we come back from the Whitsun Recess. I dealt with that in the Adjournment debate earlier in the week.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis

Will my right hon. Friend say whether in the debate on the Channel Tunnel the Minister will be prepared to say exactly what is the Government's decision about proceeding with this project?

Mr. Prior

No. This is a debate on the Green Paper which the House has asked for, and no decisions have yet been taken. It is on a motion for the Adjournment. I am making arrangements for all the literature required to be available in the Vote Office. The last part of it is a very expensive document which I hope will be made available during the afternoon.

Mr. Maclennan

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us when we are to have a debate on the Chancellor's statement on public expenditure and whether it is to be in Government time?

Mr. Prior

Obviously not in the first week back after Whitsun. I shall have to assess the desire of the House for a debate on this matter.

Mr. Adley

Does my right hon. Friend realise that in view of the links between the Maplin project and the Channel Tunnel project some of us will consider it unfortunate that he is taking the Third Reading of the Maplin Bill before the debate on the Channel Tunnel?

Mr. Prior

On the other hand, my hon. Friend is lucky to have two goes in one week.

Mr. Harold Walker

The right hon. Gentleman will no doubt be aware that on Monday of this week the Under-Secretary of State for Employment made a statement about the Government's intention on the Robens' recommendations on industrial health and safety. Has it been brought to his attention that on that occasion there were widespread protests in the House that we had that statement without a debate and that there was an equally widespread demand that we have an early debate on the subject? Can he give any indication when we are to have a debate?

Mr. Prior

I am aware of the hope that there would be a further debate on the report before legislation is introduced but I am reluctant to promise it before the Summer Recess, particularly as we are awaiting a technical document on the proposed legislation. I know that some hon. Gentlemen opposite felt that the announcement on Monday took up private Members' time. On the other hand, it was an important debate and the Government thought it right to give their views at the start of the debate.

Mr. David Steel

May I ask the Leader of the House to consider referring to the Scottish Grand Committee the White Paper on lay magistrates, as otherwise it is unlikely to be debated at all? I understand that the Scottish Office is already sending out letters to JPs. I think that this is wrong before the House has had a chance to take a decision on the matter.

Mr. Prior

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for drawing that matter to my attention. I will have it looked into and get in touch with him.

Mr. Crowder

May I ask my right hon. Friend when Lord Boyle's report is likely to be made available to the Government?

Mr. Prior

Will my hon. and learned Friend tell me what it is about?

Mr. Crowder

It is a report on civil servants and higher salaries. A further report was expected, but we have not yet heard anything about it.

Mr. Prior

I shall have to look into that matter. I was not aware that Lord Boyle was likely to produce another report very quickly. I thought for a moment that my hon. and learned Friend was talking about Members' salaries, and I was certain that there was no report on that matter. I will look into it.

Mr. Speaker

May I appeal to the House that, as we have a very important debate ahead of us, questions should be strictly confined to the week when we come back after the recess?

Mr. Shore

May I ask the Leader of the House to press upon whomsoever of his right hon. Friend's is the appropriate Minister to make a full statement on the Government's attitude towards the trading position of Britain in relation to the forthcoming multilateral trade talks with the United States and other countries in the autumn? This is a matter of very great importance.

Mr. Prior

I recognise that this matter will have to be debated in the House. I know that my right hon. Friend in his session after his statement yesterday said that he was disappointed that he had not had more questions from hon. Members about it. I certainly recognise that this matter will have to be discussed in the House.