§ The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Edward Short)
Yes, Sir. The business for next week will be as follows:
§ Debate on EEC documents on sugar (Nos. R/1900/73 and R/1957/74).
§ TUESDAY, 12TH NOVEMBER—My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will open his Budget Statement.
§ WEDNESDAY, 13TH NOVEMBER and THURSDAY 14TH NOVEMBER—Completion of the debate on the Budget Statement.
§ FRIDAY, 15TH NOVEMBER—Remaining stages of the National Theatre Bill.
§ MONDAY, 18TH NOVEMBER—There is a change from what I announced last week.
§ Motion on Norton Villiers Triumph Limited.
§ Mr. Heath
Will the Leader of the House take note of the fact that the 1242 whole House will be grateful to him for taking cognisance of the recommendations that we made to the Government that, instead of a two-day debate on the Budget, there should be a three-day debate? I believe that this is both desirable and necessary. We appreciate the arrangement that has been made.
Concerning the business for Monday, I am sure that the House will want a considerable time to debate the EEC documents on sugar, because I presume that it will be a wide-ranging debate. Whether we can have a proper discussion on the EEC documents on sugar depends on how much time is taken on the motion on the Channel Tunnel Bill.
Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether, on the business for Monday 18th November, which he has just announced—namely, Second Reading of the Housing Rents and Subsidies Bill—the Government intend to try to insert into the Bill in the form of amendments the substantial statement made by the Secretary of State for the Environment yesterday regarding penalties on councillors and the arrangements for the reclamation of the money through either rents or rates?
Finally, will the right hon. Gentleman note, that in view of the Government's complacency, particularly that of the Minister of Agriculture, about the agricultural situation in this country and the unsatisfactory replies that we got in the debate on the Address, we shall want a debate on agriculture at the earliest possible moment after the Minister of Agriculture returns from his discussions in Brussels, which I understand will he on Monday and Tuesday of the following week?
§ Mr. Short
I am grateful for what the right hon. Gentleman said about the Budget debate.
The right hon. Gentleman is perfectly correct about the importance of the consultative documents on sugar. They set out the Commission's proposals on the Community's sugar policy, both internal and external, to the Council of Ministers. I hope that the motion on the Channel Tunnel Bill will be got through at an early stage. Of course, the rule will be suspended for an hour and a half. I hope that there will be time for a good 1243 debate on the two motions, because I agree that they are extremely important.
I can give the right hon. Gentleman the assurance that he seeks on his third point. The legislation dealing with the Clay Cross situation, which my right hon. Friend announced yesterday, will not appear in the Housing Rents and Subsidies Bill. There will be separate legislation.
Finally, I note what the right hon. Gentleman said about agriculture.
§ Mr. Raphael Tuck
Will my right hon. Friend arrange for the Secretary of State for Industry to come to the House at an early date and give us an account of what the Government are doing to try to save the HS 146, and, with it, the British civil aircraft industry, from the wrecking tactics of the spiteful and irresponsible Sir Arnold Hall?
§ Mr. David Steel
May I ask the Leader of the House whether he will ask the Secretary of State for Scotland to make a statement next week on the position in the Scottish teachers' strike? Is he aware that many hon. Members on both sides of the House, together with the employing local authorities, regard their revised demand for a flat-rate increase before Christmas as reasonable and that we believe that a statement ought to be made to the House?
§ Mr. Blenkinsop
Will my right hon. Friend now tell us when we are to have the debate on the Sandford Report on National Parks and on the report on the release of defence lands which was earlier promised for a date in October?
§ Mr. John Mendelson
Regarding the proposed sugar agreement, may I ask whether my right hon. Friend recalls being in the Chamber on Tuesday when demands were made for a debate on the alternative proposals of a five-year sugar agreement with Australia or the proposals made by the Common Market authorities? Does he agree that there ought to be a debate in the House before the Minister of Agriculture finally commits us to either of those proposals?
Does my right hon. Friend recall that in an earlier Parliament, when we were in Opposition, we, as a united Opposition, pressed for a debate on the size of lorries to be admitted to this country before the then Minister was in a position to commit us at the Common Market Ministers' meeting? Ought we not to proceed in the same way as we then insisted that we should proceed?
§ Mr. Short
On the specific point about sugar, I have announced a debate on two EEC documents. They are extremely wide and will certainly give an opportunity to debate the matter that my hon. Friend wishes to debate. On the general question, he will know that today I have put on the Order Paper a motion setting up the Select Committee on Procedure, which is to look at the whole question of how we deal with EEC matters in relation to the House.
§ Sir P. Bryan
Will the Leader of the House arrange for the Attorney-General to come to the House nest week to make a statement explaining to the House how he reconciles his past advice against any reprieve for the Clay Cross councillors with yesterday's Government statement?
§ Mr. Peyton
I watt to put two points to the Leader of the House. First, will he dissociate himself from the totally improper remarks concerning Sir Arnold Hall made by his hon. Friend the Member for Watford (Mr. Tuck)? Secondly, will he reflect very deeply on the fact that Mr. Bernard Levin never gives such bad advice to the Government or to anyone else as the Government provide for themselves? [Interruption.]
§ Mr. Gwynfor Evans
Has the right hon. Gentleman observed Early-Day Motion No. 14 on the Order Paper, concerning the proposed closure of the East Moors steelworks? Is he aware of the very grave importance of this issue to the capital city of Cardiff, involving, as it does, as many as 10,000 men, who would be thrown out of work if these works were closed? In view of its importance, will the right hon. Gentleman seek an early opportunity of allowing us to debate the matter?
[That this House considers that the closure of the East Moors steelworks would have the most serious consequences for the economic and social life of the city of Cardiff in that many other businesses would be placed in jeopardy and many other work people would become unemployed; and urges the Government to give the closest attention to those consequences in its current review of the British Steel Corporation's plant closure programme..]
§ Mr. Stoddart
Has the Leader of the House seen Early-Day Motion No. 28 dealing with Plessey Company's sacking, at a moment's notice, of many of my constituents? May I have an assurance from him that next week he will announce the early introduction of a Bill on employment protection?
[That this House condemns the Plessey Company policy of dismissing at a moment's notice workers in their Swindon establishments and declaring redundancies without previous notice to or consultation with appropriate trade unions, believes that such cavalier and inhumane treatment of working people can only intensify bitterness and divisiveness and calls upon Her Majesty's Government to bring forward, urgently, legislation which will render such action impossible in the future as well as giving priority to taking into public ownership wholly or partly those industries which, like Plessey, derive a large part of their work from Government sources.]
§ Mr. Kershaw
In view of what the Leader of the House has just said, will he nevertheless recognise the very real anxiety in all parts of the country about the bills of indemnity which the Government appear to be about to bring in for crooked councillors? Now, from what—
§ Mr. John Mendelson
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You know, Mr. Speaker, that I very rarely seek to interrupt proceedings—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] That is absolutely true and will be on the records of the House, in spite of the girlish laughter from the Opposition Benches.
Is it in order, Mr. Speaker, for an hon. Member to make an accusation which clearly implies criminal culpability—[An HON. MEMBER: "Yes."] All right, hon. Members may go on record. I am asking Mr. Speaker whether it is in order under the protection of the privilege of this House for an hon. Member to make an accusation of criminal culpability against elected representatives on a local authority within the United Kingdom and 1247 whether the hon. Member ought not to be asked to withdraw the accusation.
§ Mr. Speaker
I regret very much this kind of imputation, either against individuals or against bodies, either inside or outside the House. My jurisdiction applies only to the House. It would be quite improper to make such a suggestion against a Member of the House. I am afraid, however, that what the hon. Member said was not out of order.
§ Mr. Kershaw
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In the first place, I should like to ask whether it is in order to raise a point of order during Business Questions. On the second point, Mr. Speaker, if it is thought undesirable that I should call these councillors crooked, I call them criminal instead.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I hope that the House will calm down. It is perfectly in order to raise a point of order during Question Time. It is not really desirable but it is perfectly in order, and it depends, really, on the provocation. However, I would hope that the House will now proceed.
§ Mr. Kinnock
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I regret delaying the House, but as some of the councillors to whom the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Kershaw) has referred are constituents of mine, including justices of the peace, I should like to ask you, Mr. Speaker, without wanting dictation from the Chair—[HON. MEMBERS: "Shut up."]—or hysterical interruptions—whether you will reconsider the matter of what an hon. Member may call people who are guilty of no crime.
§ Mr. Speaker
Again, I would ask the House to take this matter calmly. One hears all sorts of imputations made, for example from one side against businessmen. I regret them equally. I think that it is wrong for people to use the privi- 1248 lege of this House to make imputations against any section of the community. I hope that we can now move on.
§ Mr. Kershaw
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] May I have an answer to my question? In view of what the Prime Minister said this afternoon—[HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."]—that he proposes also to introduce some kind of indemnity for law-defying trade unions—if I may put it like that on this occasion—is not the Leader of the House aware that this is a very grave constitutional legal situation which the House will want to debate?
§ Mr. Burden
Will the Leader of the House give some indication of when the O'Brien Report is likely to be debated?
§ Mr. Lipton
Does the Leader of the House think that one day will be adequate for the Second Reading of the Housing Rents and Subsidies Bill, with all its complicated algebraic formulae? Will it not take the Minister in charge of the Bill almost all day to explain the Bill to hon. Members?
§ Mr. Fell
While I well understand that it is unlikely that we shall be able to have a debate next week upon the televising of the House, may I have some assurance, nevertheless, that the debate on televising the House will take place fairly soon—at least soon enough so that the memory of the last occasion on which the House was televised will be clear in the minds of Members?
§ Mr. Speaker
I have one thing to add to what I said on the recent points of order, which had escaped my memory. I have now had the opportunity to refresh it. On page 418 of Erskine May it says:Good temper and moderation are the characteristics of parliamentary language.
§ Mrs. Hayman
May I draw the attention of the Leader of the House to Early-Day Motion No. 5, concerning the Hawker-Siddeley 146 project, which stands in my name and the names of many of my hon. Friends? Since hundreds of jobs are involved this week, next week and in succeeding weeks, since thousands of jobs are involved in the aviation industry and elsewhere over the next decade, and since the whole future of the civil aerospace industry in Britain is at stake on this one project, will he, in spite of the pressures of time upon him, make an opportunity for a debate on the subject on the Floor of the House?
[That this House deplores the unilateral management decision to cancel the Hawker-Siddeley 146, the only new civil project being currently developed by the British aircraft industry and involving the future of 20,000 jobs; and calls on Her Majesty's Government to take immediate emergency action to rescue the aircraft and to fulfil the manifesto commitment to take the aerospace industry into public ownership as soon as possible.]
§ Mr. Short
The Government are deeply concerned about the future of the project in the light of the company's decision. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry said he was hoping to meet management and workers concerned and will make a statement to the House when he has considered those meetings.
§ Mr. Fell
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You were kind enough a moment ago to refresh your memory on what had been said during the points of order that were raised a few moments ago on what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Kershaw). During the points of order about what he said there was a certain amount of bad temper, naturally enough. Would it not be grossly unfair, however, for my 1250 hon. Friend to be accused of something of which he was not guilty?
§ Mr. Speaker
I can relieve the hon. Member's mind at once. My remark was directed not to any one hon. Member but to many hon. Members who frequently offend against this rule.
§ Sir F. Bennett
May I refer to the Clay Cross matter in a less contentious fashion—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] Because for once I wish to be heard? Yesterday's statement was very complex. It is difficult for some people to understand exactly how the burden will be redistributed fairly on those who may or may not have gained some advantage in the past. I do not know whether the Leader of the House was looking bewildered or simply unhappy, but he did not seem to be taking in fully what the statement was about. May we, therefore, have considerable time between publication of the Bill to deal with this matter and its Second Reading, or may we have a White Paper published beforehand setting out the details of a complex issue which has undercurrents of great importance to the constitution of this country?
§ Mr. Short
The period of time between publication of the Bill and Second Reading is normally about a fortnight. I will bear in mind what the hon. Member said. If it is the general wish, we would allow more time, but there is no need for a White Paper. The matter is fully set out in HANSARD. I shall bear in mind what the hon. Member said.
§ Mr. Spearing
Has my right hon. Friend seen Early-Day Motion No. 6 concerning the World Food Conference? The motion has been signed by more than 40 hon. Members on both sides of the House. Will my right hon. Friend arrange for a statement by the Minister of Agriculture or the Minister for Overseas Development at the termination of the conference, and, if possible, a debate later on?
[That this House, believing that, in view of the seriousness of the world food crisis, the response of Her Majesty's Government to the proposals presented for 1251 consideration at the forthcoming World Food Conference is disappointing, calls on Her Majesty's Government to make a more positive response to this important world conference.]
§ Mr. John Davies
The Leader of the House is certainly aware of the Second Special Report of the European Secondary Legislation Committee which in the last Parliament recommended the new Parliament to set up as rapidly as possible a repeat of that Committee because of the growing amount of work. I am informed that the backlog with which any new successor Committee will be faced is greater than that which it faced at its inception last May. Has the right hon. Gentleman any intention of introducing an early motion to set up a Committee in order that it may get on with its work?
§ Mr. Short
The motion is on the Order Paper today. The names are not printed because we are still waiting for more names. I have discussed this matter with the right hon. Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies), and I hope that what we have done will help. I had thought that perhaps the Procedure Committee should consider the mater first, but, if it is the general wish of the House, we shall be willing to set up a scrutiny committee immediately. If hon. Members have views about the matter perhaps they will discuss them with me.
§ Mr. Kinnock
How soon are we likely to debate the National Health Service so that we may consider the threat posed by consultants, who are the greatest beneficiaries and the greatest profiteers from the service and now seek deliberately to sabotage it?
§ Mr. Emery
Will the Leader of the House consider, if not next week, certainly in the immediate future the reports of the economic planning councils which are made specifically to the Government, and debates on them? I ask specifically for a debate on the report of 1252 the South-West Economic Planning Council, which has caused a wide division of views between the lower part of the South-West and the areas around Bristol It will do neither the Government's advisory committees nor the work of the planning councils any good if time is not found to debate the reports.
§ Mr. Short
I have a great deal of sympathy on this point. The hon. Member for Lancaster (Mrs. Kellett-Bowman), who is not in her place today, has raised the matter on a number of occasions. We must try to find some way of debating the question. If we do not discuss it in the Chamber, a possibility would be a regional committee or something like that. I shall look at this and discuss it with the hon. Member if he has any ideas to put forward.
§ Mr. Watt
May I draw the attention of the Leader of the House to Early-Day Motion No. 18, which is signed by Members of all parties? Does he not agree that the emergency facing the livestock industry is far greater than the emergency of digging a hole between England and France? Should we not have an early emergency debate on the livestock industry?[That this House, aware of the desperate financial plight of farmers in the livestock section of agriculture, whose situation has been aggravated by the fodder shortage and the appalling weather during harvest time in the uplands and hills, calls upon the Prime Minister to intervene personally, with a view to introducing measures to alleviate their distress and to restore a measure of confidence to the industry.]
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
Under the last Tory Government I and a number of other hon. Members tried—even to the extent of going to the then Prime Minister—to get Ministers to reply to letters from Members of Parliament in periods under five, six, eight and in some instances 12 weeks. Will my right hon. Friend advise all Ministers that they should send a formal acknowledgment of receipt within 10 days. Will he tell them that if an interim reply cannot be sent within two or three weeks a reason should be given, 1253 and certainly a substantive reply should be sent within four or five weeks?
§ Mr. Wyn Roberts
May we have an assurance that there will be a statement next week by the Minister of Agriculture on the urgent consideration that is promised for the reimposition of the 60-day waiting period for Irish cattle to qualify for the slaughter premium? This would obviously help to alleviate mounting tension in the cattle ports.
§ Mr. Molloy
In answer to earlier questions my right hon. Friend said that the sugar debate would be wide-ranging. Will he consider asking the Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will endeavour between now and the debate to see the warehousemen, the refiners and the distributors of sugar so that he may get some factual appreciation of the current situation? I am sure that would assist the debate.
§ Mr. Patrick McNair-Wilson
In view of certain remarks by the chief executive of the British Steel Corporation on industrial disputes and since the corporation is now in danger of losing blast furnace capacity, will the Leader of the House ask the Secretary of State for Industry to come to the House next week and explain the matter fully?
§ Dr. Phipps
In view of the support for Early-Day Motion No. 24, will my right hon. Friend take the opportunity when arranging the timetable for the proposed legislation to ban hare coursing to extend 1254 the Bill so as to include other forms of blood sports, so that they can all be banned at the same time?
[That this House welcomes the Prime Minister's statement that time will be found this session for a Bill to ban hare coursing, but believes that the same time would prove sufficient for a Bill to ban all forms of blood sports; and urges Her Majesty's Government to introduce such a Bill in its stead.]
§ Mr. Farr
Is the Leader of the House able to tell the House when we shall discuss the referendum on the Common Market? How will it be presented to the House? Can he say whether it will be in the form of a Bill, or a debate, or a Green Paper? Can he give some idea when this matter is likely to be forth-coming?
§ Miss Maynard
May I draw my right hon. Friend's attention to Early-Day Motion No. 13, in my name, calling for the abolition of the agricultural tied cottage system? Seventy names have now been appended to this early—day motion. Can my right hon. Friend say when this matter will be dealt with?
[That this House urges the Government to abolish the agricultural tied cottage system in this session.]
§ Mr. Short
I understand my hon. Friend's views on this matter; she has 1255 fought for it during the whole of her adult life, and I pay great tribute to her for this. This matter is part of Labour Party policy. We have so far announced our programme only for the first Session of what I hope will be a five-year Parliament, so my hon. Friend should not give up hope. I hope that proposals on this will appear in a Queen's Speech early in the life of this Parliament.
§ Mr. Hastings
Following what was said earlier about the Hawker-Siddeley 146, does the Leader of the House recognise that many of us on this side of the House regard this as an urgent matter for debate, not least because we realise that it is the uncertainty which arises as the result of the intention to nationalise which is the real threat to this project?
§ Mr. Short
I agreed with, and had a great deal of sympathy with, the hon. Gentleman until the last few words of his question. We share his concern about the project and the decision of the company on it. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is willing and anxious to discuss this matter with both the company and the workers. When my right hon. Friend has completed his review and has anything to announce he will come to the House and announce it.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg
Can the Leader of the House help us? There may have been a misunderstanding. He said earlier, when questioned about European secondary legislation, that he had tabled a motion for a Committee to be set up, but the only motion on the Order Paper appears to be that relating to a Committee on Procedure. Has a wrong heading been put on this?
§ Mr. Adley
The Leader of the House used the word "divisive" in his description of legislation the results of which may be disregarded. This was also his view when he was Shadow Leader of the House. May we on this side of the House now take it that if my right hon. Friend the Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton), as 1256 Shadow Leader of the House, decides that any legislation of the present Government is divisive, people may be encouraged to break the law? Does the Leader of the House realise the state into which he is leading the country?
§ Mr. Peyton
I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on being right for almost the first time this afternoon.
§ Mr. Churchill
In view of the fact that the Leader of the House, the Prime Minister and certain of their right hon. Friends in the Government know all about profiteering, will the Leader of the House now dissociate himself and the Government from the remarks made by the hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock) about hospital consultatnts, who do so much for the people of this country?
§ Mr. Onslow
Can the Leader of the House explain why the motion relating to the Select Committee concerned with the declaration of Members' interests provides that the Select Committee should consist of 14 Members while only 12 names are shown on the Order Paper? What is meant by the injunction in the motion:That the Committee shall report…within the shortest reasonable period…I hope that the Leader of the House can show the House that there is no intention to discourage Members who may wish to give evidence to the Select Committee—like the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton)—from doing so?
§ Mr. Short
There is no such intention. The Select Committee sat a long time during the last Parliament. We have not yet got all the names; further names can be added when they are received. One former member of the Select Committee is no longer a Member of the House. We were anxious to get the Select Committee's report as quickly as possible and so 1257 we have put this matter on the Order Paper.
§ Mr. Percival
I have a clear question and I hope that I shall get a clear answer. Can the Leader of the House say when the Phillimore Report will be published, and can we expect a debate on this before Christmas?
§ Mr. Costain
We had gained the impression from the Leader of the House that we were to discuss the question of seat belts, but he has today made no mention of this being included in the business for next Monday.
§ Dr. Glyn
May I draw the right hon. Gentleman's attention to Early-Day Motion No. 4, which is concerned with giving better opportunities for back-bench speakers? Will he consider a debate on this and other procedural points? Secondly, will he consider re-establishing the Committee on Procedure?
[That this House considers that, in order to increase the opportunities for back-benchers to contribute to proceedings, the occupant of the Chair should have the power to limit the time taken by back-bench speakers to 15 minutes in any debate, except by leave of the House.]
§ Mr. Speaker
I allowed business questions to go on for a long time on this occasion because I had regard for the business before the House today. It must not be taken as a precedent that business questions will always last for 35 minutes.
I shall now deal with points of order. The hon. Member for Yarmouth (Mr. Fell) is first.
§ Mr. Fell
I am grateful to you, Mr. Speaker. On a point of order, you will recall that earlier my hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Kershaw) made some remarks about the Clay Cross coun- 1258 cillors, to which exception was taken by —[Interruption.] Everybody knows precisely what I am talking about. The remarks were taken exception to by the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson). [Interruption.] Yes, indeed. If the House and hon. Members on the Government side will allow me, I wish to raise this matter on a point of order because I believe that a wrong impression will have gone out from the House as a result of the point of order raised by the hon. Member for Penistone. There was earlier an immediate roar of support for the hon. Member for Penistone. [Interruption.] It was absolute nonsense. We are here to protect the rights of individuals, and in a small way I want to protect the rights of the Clay Cross councillors, who are friends of the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner). It is now clear that they were led up the garden in the biggest possible way by the leaders of the Labour Party. This was the reason why my hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Kershaw) tried to raise the point.
§ Mr. Fell
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Nevertheless, Sir, you did take very seriously the point of order raised by the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson), and you interrupted the proceedings a little later to give a further opinion on what had happened. I thought that you were giving the benefit of the doubt against the Clay Cross councillors rather than against certain Members of this House.
§ Mr. Speaker
All I did was to quote from Erskine May, and I shall do so again:Good temper and moderation are the characteristics of parliamentary language.I wish all Members in all quarters of the House would remember that more frequently.
§ Mr. Raphael Tuck
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. A little earlier I was rebuked explicitly by the right hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton), and implied by you, Sir, for something I said which was taken, and probably rightly taken, as a personal attack on somebody outside the House. I did not intend what I said as a personal attack. The phrase I 1259 used was "the wrecking tactics of the spiteful and irresponsible Sir Arnold Hall". What I meant to say was "the spiteful and irreponsible wrecking tactics of Sir Arnold Hall", which is not the same thing.
§ Mr. Speaker
If the hon. Gentleman has made the matter much clearer, I am sure we shall be grateful.