HC Deb 20 June 1974 vol 875 cc683-8
Mr. Heath

May I ask the Leader of the House to tell us the business for next week?

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

The business for next week will be as follows:

MONDAY 24TH JUNE—Second Reading of the Railways Bill and of the Policing of Airports Bill.

Proceedings on the Statute Law Repeals Bill [Lords], which is a consolidation measure.

Motion relating to the Children and Young Persons Act 1969 (Amendment) Order.

TUESDAY 25TH JUNE—Remaining stages of the Housing Bill.

Motion on the Calf Subsidies (United Kingdom) (Variation) Scheme.

WEDNESDAY 26TH JUNE—Supply (9th allotted day): Until seven o'clock, debate on an Opposition motion on Agriculture.

Remaining stages of the Housing (Scotland) Bill.

At seven o'clock, the Chairman of Ways and Means has named opposed private business for consideration.

THURSDAY 27TH JUNE—Supply (10th allotted day): Debate on an Opposition motion on Rates.

Motions on New Palace Yard landscaping and car parking, and on parliamentary accommodation.

FRIDAY 28TH JUNE—Consideration of Private Members' Bills.

MONDAY 1ST JULY—Second Reading of the Social Security (Amendment) Bill.

Debate on an Opposition motion on pension policy.

Mr. Heath

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, in the following week, we shall be in the month of July, and the Government seem to be getting somewhat behind hand with business? The House will require to have debates on a number of important matters before it rises—for example, the Lane Report on abortion, the Nugent Report on defence land, the Hardman report on the dispersal of the Civil Service, the O'Brien Report on the export of animals, the Younger Report on young adult offenders, the Government's Red Paper on devolution, and the Government's decisions on the nuclear reactors and Concorde. No doubt the House will want to have a two-day debate on economic affairs before we rise, and it may well be that by that time we shall want a debate on foreign affairs. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will take notice of these requirements before we rise for the Summer Recess.

Mr. Short

I take note of what the right hon. Gentleman said. I have not undertaken to have debates on all those subjects, but I think that we can debate most of them, certainly enough to satisfy him.

Sir G. de Freitas

Since last week, the Committee on European Secondary Legislation &c has found another four proposals sufficiently important to require debate in the House. When will the Government provide time, as they are under an obligation to do?

Mr. Short

I understand that we have had two reports from the Committee. I very much hope that in the week after next we shall be able to find time for the three most important of those orders.

Mr. Grimond

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is highly unsatisfactory that we still have not had a full-scale debate on the Kilbrandon Report or on the new paper published by the Government? Will he ensure that at least before the election this time the House is given the opportunity to express its opinion and is given the views of a senior Minister on behalf of the Government? After all, the whole of the rest of the country is supposed to be being consulted now.

Mr. Short

When the Government arrive at a conclusion I hope that it will be debated. The paper we published recently was purely a consultative document which did little more than summarise the Kilbrandon Report.

Mr. Blenkinsop

Will my right hon. Friend consider a debate on the important Nugent Report about the release of defence lands, and will he consider giving time for that to be discussed along with the Sandford Report, which has a close relationship and which deals with land in the national parks?

Mr. Short

As always, my hon. Friend has made a useful and intelligent suggestion which I shall certainly bear in mind.

Mr. Marten

On the point raised by the right hon. Member for Kettering (Sir G. de Freitas), may we have a reassurance that in view of the delay in debating some of the regulations referred to us by the Committee on European Secondary Legislation, the Government will in the meantime place a stop order on any decisions which might be made on those matters which have to be referred to the House? Can we therefore linger on into August until we complete the matters referred to us by the Committee dealing with secondary legislation?

Mr. Short

I understand that the first point on which the Council of Ministers is likely to make a decision is an order on economic guidelines, and I promised last week that the House would have an opportunity to debate this before it went to the Council of Ministers. I shall adhere to that. I hope that the debate will take place in the week after next.

Mr. Ford

Has my right hon. Friend anything to add to the statement he made on Monday when he said that the Services Committee would be meeting urgently to consider matters of security?

Mr. Short

I am told that the Services Committee has met twice to discuss security, once on Tuesday and once today, and I understand that it has laid before the House today a preliminary report on security. I shall take any action that it may be necessary for me to take to see that the report is implemented, in consultation with you, of course, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Hurd

The right hon. Gentleman promised last week to consider the point I raised about European Questions. I pointed out that under the new procedure there will be fewer opportunities to direct Questions about Europe if they are penned into the last 20 minutes of Foreign Office Questions. Since we are having this experiment on Wednesday, has the right hon. Gentleman considered this issue?

Mr. Short

No, but when we consider the point which the hon. Member has raised, I shall bear in mind what he said. If he would like to come to see me about it, I shall be glad to discuss it with him.

Mr. Jay

On the question of the Committee on European Secondary Legislation, will the right hon. Gentleman assure the honourable House that we shall have time to debate all its reports before the recess, otherwise the procedure will lose its meaning?

Mr. Short

I would certainly hope so, unless the Committee decided to swamp us with orders. So far, however, it has sent five orders altogether, and I hope that we can find time to debate them all before the Summer Recess. Three of them are of particular importance, and I hope that we shall be able to find time for them in the week after next week.

Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg

May I press the Leader of the House on the question of security? He says that a document has been laid on the Table. In view of the printing difficulties it may take some time for the rest of the House to see that document. Is the right hon. Gentleman in a position to say something definite about it now?

Mr. Short

The Chairman of the Services Committee showed it to me after he had laid it before the House. I agree that it may be next week before hon. Members see it, but I believe that its more important aspects of advice to you, Mr. Speaker, are that all Members should be required to carry passes and that civil servants should be required to carry photographic passes. They do not have them at the moment because they have ordinary Civil Service passes.

The first of these proposals raises the question of privilege and I shall certainly look at that, but I am sure that hon. Members would be prepared to forgo, or at least suspend part of their privilege in the present rather difficult situation.

Hon. Members

Hear, hear.

Mr. Ashton

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the Select Committee on Members' Interests has decided to sit only once a week, and if that is so, will he explain how he can stick to his original promise that the Committee will report back before the end of July?

Mr. Short

The Committee has decided that it will be impossible for it to report to the House before the end of July, but it has reaffirmed the instruction from the House that it will report at the earliest possible moment.

Mr. Hastings

May we expect a statement from the Government on the forthcoming United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, which I understand has the gravest implications on the economic future of this country?

Mr. Short

I shall convey that request to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

Mr. Faulds

The right hon. Gentleman—or I suppose I should say my right hon. Friend—will be aware of the situation that arose this week concerning the recall of the WEU delegation to Westminster. Does my right hon. Friend realise that because we broke our pairs last night, the Tories have broken theirs tonight, with the result that for most of yesterday and up to today no British Member has been present at that delegation? Is not this unsatisfactory and will my right hon. Friend consider it on future occasions?

Mr. Short

This is a matter between the two parties to be discussed through the usual channels, but I am told that there were no broken pairs.

Mr. Lane

What has happened to the Bill on the safety of sports grounds of which the Leader of the House was reminded several weeks ago?

Mr. Short

The Bill is encountering some difficulty, but it will be coming along eventually.

Mr. Raphael Tuck

My right hon. Friend spoke a few moments ago about the advisability of Members of Parliament having passes. Is it not much more important that Members' wives, secretaries—and, more important, any person who comes in with a parcel or comes in to do a job—should have passes and identity cards? The police know most of the Members of Parliament, but they do not know all the workmen around here.

Mr. Short

All secretaries are required to have photographic passes. The report also suggests that it would be a good idea if Members' wives and families had passes. Workmen are, of course, required to have passes, and I am assured that this system is now being tightened up. It had rather fallen into disuse for casual workers.

Several Hon. Members rose

Mr. Speaker

Order. Because of the special circumstances of today I must move on with business.