§ 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:
§ Proceedings on the following consolidated Bills, the Industrial Injuries and Diseases (Old Cases) and Social Security, and the Northern Ireland Bills, and Social Security (Consequential Provisions).
§ Motion on the Census Order.
§ Motion relating to Firearms Certificates and Permits (Northern Ireland) Order.
§ FRIDAY, 21ST MARCH—Private Members' motions.
§ MONDAY, 24TH MARCH—Debate On the motion on financial assistance to opposition parties, until seven o'clock.
§ Afterwards, a debate on the textile industry, on a motion for the Adjournment of the House, when it is hoped to suspend the Ten o'clock Rule for two hours.
§ Mrs. Thatcher
May I put two points to the right hon. Gentleman? He has 806 already given an undertaking that there will be a debate on the Common Market and the Government's attitude to membership. Can he give some idea when that will be? Will it be before the Second Reading of the referendum Bill? Second, it is getting rather near to Budget time. Are we to have a one-day economic debate on public expenditure?
§ Mr. Cryer
Will my right hon. Friend give time for a debate—in pursuit of open government—about the request for information from 70 Labour Members, including myself, concerning the relationship of the EEC to the Industry Bill currently passing through the House? I make this request for a debate since the request for information was made in anticipation of the Second Reading of the Bill, which is now in Committee, and it looks as if the information will be too late anyhow. Second, will my right hon. Friend give urgent consideration to allowing time to debate the question of import restrictions, especially as they affect areas such as my own, the West Riding, where the import of cheap materials has badly affected the textile industry?
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The Leader of the House is to make a statement on these matters. May I ask that questions relating to facilities of the House are kept until after that statement?
§ Mr. Jopling
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that he has announced a good deal of Government business for next week? In view of that, will he give the Government Whips a shake-up so that they make sure they have sufficient 807 Government supporters present to be certain that the business is obtained? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this did not happen last night? Is it not an abuse of the Government's position when they cannot be bothered to muster enough of their supporters to carry their own business?
§ Mr. Ron Thomas
If the Government decide to extend the scope of Section 128 of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act, may I ask my right hon. Friend to make sure that the House has an opportunity fully to debate that Act because we on the Labour benches are concerned about the way the powers given to the Home Secretary under this legislation are being used?
§ Mr. Bradford
Has the right hon. Gentleman noticed Early-Day Motion No. 321:
[That this House calls upon Her Majesty's Government to assist by way of financial assistance under section 8 of the Industry Act 1972 in respect of the Heysham-Belfast Ferry Service.]
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this requests financial assistance for the Belfast-Heysham ferry service? In view of the overall implications for Northern Ireland and the employment implications for the United Kingdom, will the right hon. Gentleman give the House the opportunity to debate this important closure?
§ Mr. Spriggs
Is my right hon. Friend aware that Early-day Motion No. 321, referred to by the hon. Member for 808 Belfast, South (Mr. Bradford), is in my name? Does he appreciate that the proposed withdrawal of the Heysham-Belfast ferry service has been dealt with in a quite unsatisfactory manner? Will he provide time for the House to debate these proposals in full or else institute an independent inquiry?
§ Mr. Short
No, Sir. I cannot do that. I know of my hon. Friend's great interest in this matter, which would be an appropriate subject for the Easter Adjournment debate or for the Consolidated Fund Bill on Monday.
§ Mr. Charles Morrison
Does not the fact that there were fewer than 20 Labour Members present last night to support the calf subsidy scheme demonstrate that even on the Labour side of the House there is a total lack of support for the Government's agricultural policy? Does this not emphasise the need for an agricultural debate in Government time before Easter?
§ Mr. Short
It may demonstrate a number of things. One thing it does not demonstrate is that there is a need for such a debate. I pointed out last week that the Government have already given three days in this Session to agricultural matters. The Opposition have given one of their days. The time is divided between the Opposition and the Government.
§ Mr. Hooley
When does my right hon. Friend intend to honour his undertaking to have a debate on foreign affairs before Easter?
§ Mr. Stephen Ross
If the Leader of the House cannot provide time for a debate on agriculture before the Easter Recess, will he provide time for a limited debate on the horticultural situation? If he can do that for the textile industry, surely we can have three or five hours on horticulture?
§ Mr. Short
No I cannot, but I understand that there are one or two agricultural subjects to be debated under the Consolidated Fund Bill. That will be an appropriate occasion.
§ Mr. Noble
Will my right hon. Friend accept the thanks of all the Labour 809 Members from the North-West for having a debate on textiles? Will he pass on to the Prime Minister an expression of our pleasure at learning during Questions this afternoon that he is now taking a direct interest in this matter, and will the Leader of the House ensure through his good offices that when we have a debate on textiles we shall have action as well as words?
§ Mr. Skinner
Has my right hon. Friend seen Early-Day Motion No. 343:
[That this House believes that it would be in the national interest, having regard to statements that have been made by former employees of the National Coal Board, that a public inquiry should he made into the purchasing practices of the National Coal Board since the date of inception, and that any person should be free to give evidence in that inquiry, without let or hindrance.]
It appears in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Mr. Kelley), myself and many others and it deals with purchasing by the National Coal Board between the late 'fifties and the early 'sixties. There is a very disquieting air about the whole affair since five inquiries of various kinds have been held—some in secret and some by the Coal Board— and yet still the matter has not been cleared up. Is my right hon. Friend aware that the terms of reference of the last Select Committee were too narrow and that the matter needs to be cleared up once and for all? Will my right hon. Friend lend his powerful 810 voice to the setting up of a public inquiry so that the matter can be dealt with and the whole question of alleged overspending of £74 million dealt with once and for all?
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
On Monday's Consolidated Fund Bill, will my right hon. Friend ensure that the Minister who replies to debates on horticultural matters gives the total amount that would be necessary to finance all the different subsidies for which the Opposition are now asking for horticulture, agriculture, fisheries and one hundred and one other activities? Many of my hon. Friends would like to have that total figure.
§ Mr. Ian Gilmour
Although we read in the Press that the Sex Discrimination Bill was presented to the House yesterday, it is not available in the Vote Office. When will it be available? In view of the right hon. Gentleman's responsibilities to the House as a whole, as opposed to his responsibilities as a Government business manager, will he take note that if the Bill is not available today or tomorrow it will be quite impossible to have a Second Reading debate before Easter.
§ Mr. Short
I shall certainly look into what the right hon. Gentleman said, but I checked on this with my right hon. Friend this morning and we were told that copies were available this morning. 811 We are experiencing difficulties, of course, and I shall have something to say about this when I make my statement later.
§ Mr. Wigley
Has the Leader of the House seen Early-Day Motion No. 312:
[That this House takes note of the fact that although the permissible number of Questions for Oral Answer has been reduced from two to one for each Member, Wales appeared at the head of the order for oral answers only once in the last parliamentary term, and only twice in the current term totalling one hour ten minutes in all; regrets that on both occasions during this term, insufficient time was allocated for all the Questions on Wales to be answered and consequently calls for Welsh Questions to be allocated the full hour between 2.30 p.m. and 3.30 p.m. on each occasion; proposes that Welsh Questions should appear at the top of the Order Paper at least once every month ; notes that on those Mondays in the present term when Welsh Questions are not at the head of the Order Paper, they do not on one single occasion appear second on the Order Paper; and proposes that all subjects have an equitable rota system for their positioning on the Order of Questions.]
It deals with the time allocation and the frequency of Welsh Questions. Will he say when we are to have our annual Welsh debate, because 12 months have passed since the last one?
§ Sir John Hall
Will the Leader of the House say when it is intended to introduce legislation to give effect to the système international form of metrication, which 812 is being introduced into industry, commerce and schools, without, as far as I can see, Parliamentary consent?