HC Deb 25 March 1976 vol 908 cc625-6
Q5. Mr. Lawson

asked the Prime Minister when he expects to receive the final report of the Royal Commission on the Press.

The Prime Minister

The Royal Commission on the Press hopes to present its final report early in 1977.

Mr. Lawson

Since this may be my last opportunity to say it—[Hon. Members: "Good-bye".]—may I say how much I shall miss asking the Prime Minister important questions, confident in the knowledge that I shall never receive an answer? When the right hon. Gentleman gives his evidence to the Royal Commission, will he explain his curious resignation remark about forgiving the Press? For what trespasses does he forgive them?

The Prime Minister

I have every confidence that when the hon. Member fulfils his promise to the House, we shall win Blaby. The hon. Member has always been an interesting questioner, although usually on the wrong lines. At a time like this, however, one should forgive the Press and all its sinful enormities. To answer the hon. Member's question in full would probably mean the disappearance of all further action on business today.

Mr. Skinner

Is my right hon. Friend aware that when the Royal Commission on the Press finally reports my right hon. Friend will be taking another seat in the House of Commons to listen to it? In line with the discussions that he and I had last night about where that seat will be, I have taken, as shop steward on behalf of the Front Bench below the Gangway, a few soundings of my colleagues. By a majority view they have decided that a novel arrangement could be arrived at whereby a seat can be arranged for my right hon. Friend at the end of this Bench provided that someone else is shunted off it and on to the Treasury Bench.

The Prime Minister

I am glad that my hon. Friend has disclosed to the House the nature of those very confidential discussions. I regard him as the shop steward of that Bench. I was asking only that I might be allowed to sit in the traditional place of someone in my future position, and I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Watford (Mr. Tuck) will move up a little. My hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) will be the first to agree that there was no deal or any question of a transfer from his Bench to this, and that matter will in any case not be under my direction.

Mr. Lipton

Is my right hon. Friend aware that my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) is not my shop steward? Will he take into account the fact that many of us do not want to know what he will be doing during the next week or two, and that all these questions are quite irrelevant?

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend is always helpful in these matters. Once when I was in difficulties on a Question he rose to ask whether I had had a good dinner—which I had. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for all his interventions. We have both been in this House a long time and I hope to be sitting alongside him in the near future.