§ Mrs. Thatcher
Will the Leader of the House please state the business of the House up to the Easter Recess?
§ The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Edward Short)
Yes, Sir. The business will be as follows:
MONDAY 5TH APRIL—Supply [16th Allotted Day]. There will be a debate on the fishing industry, on a motion for the Adjournment.
Resumed debate on EEC Documents R/3113/73 and R/1150/75 on lead pollution.
TUESDAY 6TH APRIL —My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will open his Budget Statement.
EEC Documents R/622 and 606 on policy guidelines for 1976 will be relevant.
At 7 o'clock, the Chairman of Ways and Means has named opposed private business for consideration.
§ Motion relating to pension schemes and regulations.
§ WEDNESDAY 7TH APRIL and THURSDAY 8TH APRIL—Continuation of the Budget debate.
§ At the end on Wednesday, motion relating to the Medicines (Fees) Regulations.
§ FRIDAY 9TH APRIL—Private Members' motions.
§ MONDAY 12TH APRIL—Conclusion of Budget debate.
§ Debate on EEC Documents R/451/76 and R/ 452 /76 on proteins.
§ TUESDAY 13TH APRIL—Supply [17th Allotted Day]: Debate on the Eleventh Report from the Expenditure Committee in Session 1974–75 on the Children and Young Persons Act 1969, House of Commons Paper No. 534, and any Special Report thereon.
§ WEDNESDAY 14TH APRIL—Subject to progress of business, it will be proposed that the House should meet at 11 a.m., take Questions until 12 noon and adjourn at 5 p.m. until Monday 26th April.
§ Mrs. Thatcher
May I ask the Leader of the House about the possibility of two statements? If the serious situation at British Leyland persists, may we have a statement tomorrow from the Secretary of State for Employment before things get worse next week? May we also have a statement on Monday on the results of the meeting of the European Council of Ministers?
§ Mr. Pym
We are grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for arranging the debate on the two documents on Monday. Will he persuade the Minister of Agriculture to make a statement early next week about the confusion that has arisen over the disposal of skimmed milk powder? Since 15th March compounders have been required to make deposits on protein, and they have done so, but they are unable to redeem them because there is no skimmed milk powder for them to use. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that no compounders have been licensed yet to denature skimmed milk powder and, as far as I am aware, no inspectors have been appointed? It would be helpful to have a statement from the Minister of Agriculture on Monday or Tuesday.
§ Mr. Short
I shall tell my right hon. Friend what the right hon. Gentleman has said. The major confusion in the matter was created initially by the right hon. Gentleman. I made the position clear in the House but the right hon. Gentleman did not retract what he said on the BBC. I wish he had done so. That would have cleared up most of the confusion.
§ Mrs. Renée Short
We welcome the opportunity of a debate on the Expenditure Committee's Report on the Children and Young Persons Act. Is there likely to be a ministerial reply before the debate? My right hon. Friend wrote to me on 11th March and said that the reply would be presented to Ministers shortly and that it was hoped that it would be published in a few days' time. Will it not be difficult to debate this matter unless we know the attitude of the Ministers involved?
§ Mr. Edward Short
I agree with my hon. Friend, and I shall do my best to see that the reply is made available, but I cannot guarantee it. The subject for debate was selected by the Expenditure Committee.
§ Mr. Powell
On what day does the Leader of the House expect to move the motion for the Adjournment for the recess?
§ Mr. Kilroy-Silk
Will my right hon. Friend consider examining the frequency 1583 with which various Departments come up for Questions? It is anomalous that Wales should come up every three weeks whereas Industry and Employment come up every four or five weeks. Does my right hon. Friend remember that on Monday of this week there were only 12 Welsh Questions on the Order Paper?
§ Mr. Baker
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the unemployment rate in certain parts of London is higher than in Clydeside, Tyneside or Teesside? As the recession has hit certain parts of London more seriously than other parts of the country, is it not time for a debate on the Floor of the House on the capital city?
§ Mr. Short
There is no time for such a debate in the House in the next two weeks. I offered a debate next week in the Regional Committee to allow all hon. Members from London to take part. I understand that they have decided that they do not want that. But I shall try to find time for a London debate in the House before the Summer Recess.
§ Mr. Cledwyn Hughes
May I point out to my right hon. Friend that whilst other Departments are as important as Wales none is more important?
§ Sir Frederic Bennett
The right hon. Gentleman will not need reminding about the new, appalling fall in the value of sterling, which has now gone below $1.9 for the first time. Does that not emphasise the need for a statement to be made at the earliest possible opportunity and for the Chancellor of the Exchequer not to wait for the weekend to make it? An early statement might arrest the fall, which could get worse over the weekend if nothing is said.
§ Mr. Faulds
Is it not time for a debate on the problems of Southern Rhodesia, which is ultimately a British responsibility?
§ Mr. Canavan
If there is any ministerial statement next week, will the Leader of the House arrange for advance copies of it to be given to all Back Benchers? Some of us are getting fed up with seeing some hon. Members, even in minority factions, reading advance copies while we have to wait for the words of wisdom to drop from the Minister's mouth.
§ Mr. Charles Morrison
What contingency plans are there for the business next Tuesday? The new Prime Minister, of course, will not see the contents of the Budget until Monday. He may not like it. He may not like the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he may even not like the Leader of the House.
§ Mr. Les Huckfield
Will my right hon. Friend say when the Secretary of State for the Environment intends to introduce his consultative document on transport policy?
§ Mr. Hal Miller
Does the Leader of the House recall the Prime Minister's commitment to the House on 21st April last year, in his statement on the Ryder Report on British Leyland, that the company's operating programmes and its progress would be submitted to the House with the comments of the National Enterprise Board, so that the House could take a decision on the matter before the next tranche of money was given to the company? Can the right hon. Gentleman make arrangements for that to be done before the recess?
§ Mr. Skinner
Is my right hon. Friend prepared to consider the possibility of a statement about the unfortunate position of Alan Grimshaw, sacked by the National Coal Board arising out of his evidence to the Select Committee on Nationalised Industries? Especially as two Select Committees seem to be at variance on the matter, is there not a need for a wide-ranging public inquiry into the whole buying practice of the Board, extending particularly over that period when Lord Robens was at its head?
§ Mr. Short
They are not. There is no conflict between the two. The earlier Select Committee recommended that the matter should be considered by the Select Committee on Privileges. It has been considered by that Committee, which has made its Report to the House. There is nothing more I can do about the matter.
§ Mr. Pavitt
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services had expected that the Bill to phase out pay beds would have its Second Reading before Easter, but that has not proved possible. Will the Bill be published before Easter? Will my right hon. Friend confirm that any arrangement made by Lord Goodman is subject to whatever we in this House decide on that Bill?
§ Mr. Madel
Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that after the referendum campaign just over a year ago he said that he hoped that this year of parliamentary work would be a lighter Session? How can the Government get all the proposed legislation through and start the Summer Recess at a reasonable date, as they promised last year in view of the help we gave them on the Referendum Bill and campaign?
§ Mr. Frank Allaun
When will the report of the inquiry into the supply by Aviation (Jersey) Limited of Centurion parts to the South African Government be published? There is clearly something very fishy in this business. Will it not heighten suspicion if the report is not issued, or if it is issued during the recess when we cannot debate it in the House?
§ Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg
On what day before Easter will the right hon. Gentleman announce the setting up of the sessional Select Committee on Procedure, 1587 bearing in mind that a few replies earlier he said that a matter should go to that Committee, which does not yet exist?
§ Mr. Short
We have collected three items, not very substantial, to go to a sessional Select Committee. I hope to set it up at the same time as the Select Committee on the reform of Parliament, in the very near future—I hope this week. But many hon. Members, almost all, are heavily involved in Committees. [An HON. MEMBER: "Too many."] Not as many as in 1972. But I hope that the work will be lighter after the Easter Recess.
§ Mr. Terry Walker
Will my right hon. Friend give some consideration to a debate on the future of the Concorde aircraft, as discussions have taken place between our Government and the French Government and there are rumours that we are trying to draw another foreign Power into the deal? May that be considered as a matter of urgency?
§ Mr. Short
I cannot offer any time for a debate on Concorde. My hon. Friend will have seen the statement issued by my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Department of Industry after his recent discussions. I have nothing to add to that. In view of the pressure to rise at a reasonable date in the summer, I can offer no time for a debate on a subject of this kind.
§ Mr. English
Will my right hon. Friend correct an ambiguity in his reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Short)? The Expenditure Committee chose the subject for the debate on Tuesday week, but not the date. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the debate should be on a motion by the Committee to approve its Report, rather than on a weak, one-line-Whip "take note" motion? It is probably my omission, but I do not recall my right hon. Friend stating the date of the debate on the motion that the House should adjourn a week on Wednesday.
§ Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles
Does the right hon. Gentleman's reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Morrison) mean that both right hon. Gentlemen who are still in the ballot for the premiership have seen the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Budget Statement and have both approved it?
§ Mr. Spearing
Does my right hon. Friend recall that, in rejecting the recommendation of the previous Select Committee on the procedure for dealing with EEC documents on 3rd November last, the Government spokesman agreed that in the near future the Government would lay another amendment which would give effect to the wishes of the House? Does my right hon. Friend agree that that amendment has not been laid? As there is concern throughout the House on the subject of how we handle this vital matter, why have we had to wait five months?
§ Mr. Short
I do not think that there is great concern throughout the House about the matter. I think that there is great appreciation throughout the House that in the past two years we have built up from scratch the machinery that we now have. When this Government came into office there was no machinery for scrutinising documents from the EEC. The outstanding point concerns something which is very difficult and costly. I am having research done on the matter, and I hope to make an announcement about it very shortly.
§ Mr. Tim Renton
In view of the Lord President's witty remark that there is complete unanimity in his Government, will he ask the new Prime Minister to 1589 make a statement to the House at the earliest opportunity, first, on whether import controls are or are not the policy of the Government and, secondly, on whether he will dismiss Cabinet Ministers who publicly dissent from Government policy?
§ Mr. Hooley
May I press my right hon. Friend on the importance of a considered reply to the very important Report on the Children and Young Persons Act, which we are to debate a week on Tuesday? Is it not somewhat discourteous to the House that we should have the debate in the absence of any considered statement by the Minister concerned?
§ Mr. Michael Latham
Can the Secretary of State for the Environment make a statement next week on what the Government will do to restore the improvement grant programme, which has collapsed and is now running at under half the level it achieved under the Conservative Government?
§ Mr. Russell Kerr
Accepting my right hon. Friend's reluctance to have a debate at present on the Concorde situation, may I ask him nevertheless to take into account the fact that a number of redundancies are threatened in the aircraft industry and that it is most important that we have an early debate on civil aviation?