HC Deb 11 April 1974 vol 872 cc647-51

12.28 p.m.

Mr. Edward Heath

May I ask the Leader of the House to state the business for the week after we return?

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Edward Short)

The business when the House resumes after the Easter Adjournment will be as follow:

MONDAY 29TH APRIL—There will be a debate on London, which will arise on a motion for the Adjournment of the House.

TUESDAY 30TH APRIL—Second Reading of the Channel Tunnel Bill, which it is hoped to obtain by about seven o'clock.

Motion on the Value Added Tax (General) (No. 1) Order.

WEDNESDAY 1ST MAY—Supply (3rd allotted day): Topic for debate to be announced.

Remaining stages of the Rabies Bill.

THURSDAY 2ND MAY—A debate on Nuclear Reactors, on a motion for the Adjournment of the House.

FRIDAY 3RD MAY—Private Members' Bills.

Mr. Heath

With regard to the motion on VAT, will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that the debate will run until 11.30 p.m., having started at seven p.m.? As regards the debate on nuclear reactors, will he confirm that this will not be the occasion for the Government to announce final decisions on a nuclear reactor programme but, rather, for an exchange of views? If that is so, as this is an immensely complicated subject, will the right hon. Gentleman ask the Secretary of State for Energy to take care to set out as fairly as possible the various options open to the Government in reaching their decision?

Mr. Short

The debate on the VAT motion will run until 11.30 p.m. As for the right hon. Gentleman's second point, the Government will not take any action until we have heard the debate in the House. I shall pass on the right hon. Gentleman's request to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy.

Mr. Lamont

Will the right hon. Gentleman seek to ensure that Ministers observe what I believe to be the convention that information is not made available to the Press when it is the subject of a Parliamentary Question in this House? Will he therefore investigate the circumstances in which the Minister for the Civil Service refused to answer a Question from me about a list of Labour Party appointees in Whitehall on the very day that such a list was published in a national newspaper?

Mr. Short

There are no Labour Party appointees in Whitehall, but there are some Government appointees. However, I will look into the point that the hon. Gentleman made and write to him about it.

Mr. Dudley Smith

As the Home Secretary's statement will have gone a long way towards destroying confidence in sensitive areas such as the West Midlands that the Government intend to have a tight policy on immigration control, irrespective of what Mr. Speaker may decide, may we have an early debate on the Government's whole immigration policy?

Mr. Short

I do not accept the premise on which the hon. Gentleman based his question. I am afraid that there will be no opportunity in the near future for a debate on this matter.

Mr. Speaker

It might be of help to the House if I were to say now what I have decided on the matter raised by the hon. Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Blaker). He has until 1.15 p.m. allotted to him for his topic. If he chooses to raise the matter of immigration he will not be out of order. However, I must make it clear that the debate will stop at 1.15 p.m.

Dr. Winstanley

As hon. Members on this side of the House are anxious that statements made in the House should have proper publicity, may I ask the Leader of the House when he will provide time to debate Motion No. 22 regarding the broadcasting of the proceedings of the House?

[That this House agrees in principle to the radio broadcasting of its proceedings (including at an appropriate time "sound on vision" and instructs its Services Committee to prepare, for the approval of the House, the necessary arrangements on the lines of those recommended by the Select Committee on Broadcasting, &c. of Proceedings in the House of Commons of Session 1966–67.]

Mr. Short

I said on a previous occasion that I hope to arrange a debate on that subject some time in this Session.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

The Leader of the House will be aware that there is a substantive motion on the Order Paper expressing dissent from the ruling given by Mr. Speaker yesterday. As it is the custom of the House that such a substantive motion should be debated and disposed of with the minimum delay, may I ask when he will give time for it to be debated?

Mr. Short

I am afraid that I cannot give any undertaking about that at the moment.

Mr. Silvester

Does the Leader of the House intend to introduce a motion after Easter to set up the Committee governing secondary legislation from Europe?

Mr. Short

I hope to table a motion on the day that the House returns after the recess.

Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles

Will the Leader of the House tell us what the procedure will be about the Armed Forces Pay Review? This is now ten days overdue. It was due on 1st April. With troops on patrol in Ulster drawing perhaps only a third of what miners now draw, it is a matter of great interest to the Army. Will this review be announced during the recess or will it have to be delayed until after the recess?

Mr. Short

The hon. and gallant Gentleman raised this matter on the Adjournment debate on Tuesday, to which I replied. I am afraid I have nothing to add to the reply that I gave on that occasion.

Mr. Patrick Jenkin

Will the Leader of the House convey to his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy that it is essential for the House to be furnished with a forecast of electricity demand if the debate on nuclear reactors on the Thursday after we come back from the recess is to have any meaning? This seems to be a very important matter.

Mr. Short

Certainly I will pass on to my right hon. Friend the point made by the right hon. Gentleman and that made by his right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr. loan Evans

Does my right hon. Friend realise that we welcome the statement on immigration made to the House today? We hope that the practice of Ministers making statements to the House will continue, unlike the practice followed by the previous administration who went into recess to make awkward statements.

Mr. Shersby

Will the Leader of the House arrange an early debate on the serious situation that has arisen following an instruction by the National Association of Local Government Officers to its members not to volunteer their services for the London borough council elections to be held on 2nd May?

Mr. Short

I am afraid that I cannot promise a debate on that matter. However, the hon. Gentleman will know—I mentioned this matter in the debate on Tuesday—that a number of discussions are taking place on it.

Mr. Michael Marshall

On the assumption that we are to lose the debate on the horticulture industry today, may I ask the Leader of the House whether he will undertake to provide time for us to discuss the long-term problems of this industry which will remain, notwithstanding the announcement that has been made today?

Mr. Short

I cannot promise a debate on that matter. My right hon. Friend has answered a Question on it today. I cannot hold out any hope of a debate on the glasshouse sector of the agriculture industry in the near future.

Mr. Newens

Will my right hon. Friend allocate time to debate the decision on sending warships to Chile announced yesterday by his right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary? Will he provide us with an opportunity of discussing the ramifications which will arise from that decision?

Mr. Short

I cannot promise a debate on that matter, but I will certainly consider it. I should point out that the only ships going to Chile are those for which there are contracts between this country and Chile.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. I think that we must now proceed to other matters.